Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Romans 2 : 12-16

"For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Romans 2:12-16)

Discussion Questions:

1.  In Romans 2:11, Paul writes that "there is no partiality with God."  How is this the case when he points out in verse 12 that Gentiles will "perish without law" and Jews "will be judged by the law?"  Is that fair?  Explain.

2.  How do nature and human conscience relate to the law and the judgment of God?

3.  How do you witness or evangelize?  What do these verses suggest that our witness/evangelism should be like?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Romans 2 : 5-11

"But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God." (Romans 2:5-11)

We can appropriately title this study, "Judgment by Works."  This is a sticky subject because there is always someone who will misinterpret this as being "saved by works."  We, obviously, are not saved by works; we are saved by Jesus Christ.  But, the Bible teaches that the evidence God will use to justify His judgment will include our deeds.  Paul is correctly applying the same lesson that was taught by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke:

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:43-45)

So we can see that the product of our deeds (the fruit that we bear) is the determining factor in God's righteous judgment.

Discussion Questions:

1.  In light of Jeremiah 17:9, how is it possible for sinful humans to produce "good fruit?"  (Consider Luke 18:27 and John 15:5-8)

2.  What is the difference between those who "seek glory, honor, and immortality", and "those who are self-seeking?"  (Consider Mark 14:36)

3.  Are you a fruit-bearing tree? (Be careful with your answer!)

God bless

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Faith of Jesus

When I was very little, I went through a phase where I was afraid of the dark.  It was near impossible for me to get to sleep unless there was some light in my room.  My son is going through the same phase.  "Mommy, Daddy, don't leave me!"  I always tell him to close his eyes, that it will be morning soon, and there will be light again.  We leave the night-light on for him anyway.  Someday he will conquer it.  But that's fairly simple; a child's fear of the dark is usually temporary, because faith that the sun will rise again overpowers the fear.
This is what the faith of Jesus is about.  It's so easy to succumb to the horrors of the world we live in; where boogeymen lurk in shadows and dark alleys.  It's easy to be afraid of the uncertainties of life and to be cornered by the inevitability of death.  It's easy to get swallowed up by the abyss of loneliness.
When Jesus came to Gethsemane, He was being swallowed whole.  He was distressed by the lonely, perilous path before Him.

He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him.  And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:35-36)

Like a small child left, for the first time, to sleep in his own bed; left to contemplate the impending darkness, Jesus was sad and distressed.  "Daddy, don't leave me!"
It wasn't humanity's sins that distressed Him; it wasn't the darkness that overwhelmed Him; it was the inevitability of being ripped from His Father's side that had devastated Him.  You see, Jesus had never before been separated from His Father.  And now the time had come.  Jesus would experience the effects of sin.
Friends, without His sacrifice we would be separated from our Father in heaven.  Without Him, we would be exposed to the disease of sin and pronounced terminal!
So praise His name with each and every breath, because Christ believed that the sun would rise again!  Christ believed that He would be reunited with His Father!  Christ had faith!
You can claim His faith today!

"Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." (Revelation 14:12)

There is no fear that can overpower the faith of Jesus!  Follow Him...

The Verb

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.
(Mark 1:9-20)

Our God is alive!  Our God is working!  That's what I love about the Gospel of Mark. In John's gospel, Jesus is the Word; but, in Mark, He is not just any Word!  In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is The Verb!  The "Active Word!"  According to Mark, Jesus' actions are deliberate and "immediate."  In chapter one we discover that the word "immediately" is used 8 times!  Jesus is certainly not asleep at the wheel!  Doesn't that give you confidence?

But, upon closer examination, we find that Jesus is not alone in His "immediateness."  In verse 12, we find the Holy Spirit "immediately...drove Him into the wilderness."  And, in verses 18, 20, and even in verse 28, we find that human reaction to Christ is also immediate.  Simon, Andrew, James, John, and the multitudes that came into contact with Jesus, were changed immediately!  

Friend, I believe that everyone who meets Jesus can change.  The rich and poor; the popular and the outcast; the Christians who have lost their way and even the atheist can be changed by encountering the Verb!  
But, the immediateness of that change is up to you.  God wants to fill you with His Spirit of Change today and refine you into a precious jewel!  He wants you to experience a life that overflows with the victory of His Son, Jesus Christ!  Will you answer His call, today?