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Passage: Romans 1-3

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, Yujin wrote,

For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine (Romans 1:11-12).

Here is an interesting statement by Paul. He writes of imparting "some spiritual gift" to the Roman believers. Many commentators have brushed aside the notion that Paul had any real spiritual gift in mind, like those listed in passages such as Romans 12 or 1 Corinthians 12; however, I cannot see why this run around is necessary. What theological problem arises from seeing Paul impart spiritual gifts to believers? After all, did he not do this for Timothy?

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands (2 Timothy 1:6).

He also did this for the disciples of John the Baptist:

When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:6).

I have commented before that this imparting of spiritual gifts, particularly by the laying on of hands, seems not something just any believer can do but only the apostles. Even though Philip exercised spiritual gifts, he could not impart any of them. He had to wait for Peter and John. Other than the apostles, among whom Paul is included, no other believer is said to have this power to confer spiritual gifts (note: 1 Timothy 4:14's reference to "elders" is sufficiently vague in terms of reference and may have Paul or the other apostles in mind, for Peter and John are also called elders in 1 Peter 5:1 and 2 John 1). 

If, as I have argued, the imparting of spiritual gifts (i.e. gifts of the Holy Spirit) came only by way of the apostles, and particularly through the laying on of their hands, then, what many claim are "spiritual gifts" today are nothing of the sort. These gifts, then, would have passed away, not with the apostles, but with those that the apostles directly influenced. 

Friends, today we speak of gifts so willy nilly, making a distinction between the gifts, as if some were supernatural and others were not. Some make a disctinction between the prophetic gift of foretelling versus forthtelling. The prophets of old did both, and they were never distinguished in this way, as if one allowed for errors while the other did not. The prophetic gift, in whatever form, was always supernatural and left no room for error. The same goes for every gift of the Spirit. They were all supernatural and revelatory, not skills or talents to be developed through study and practice. I feel that we water down the weight of these gifts simply because what passes for "spiritual gifts" today are not gifts of the Spirit at all, and some want to find biblical justification to claim that they are. This is simply unnecessary and wrong-headed.

Passage: Romans 1-3

On Thursday, January 31, 2013 (Last Updated on 2/1/2013), Fernando wrote,

Romans 1
Background on Rome's church:
Nothing is revealed in the New Testament as to the start of the church in Rome. It is possible that
visitors to Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost following the Lord's ascension were among the 3000 saved and later took the gospel with them back home (Act 2:10). Or it could be that among those dispersed following Stephen's death were some that went to Rome and preached the gospel there (Act 8:1-4).

The first we read of Christians from Rome is possibly that of Aquila  and Priscilla, who along with all Jews were expelled from Rome by Claudius and were found by Paul at Corinth during his second journey (Act 18:1-2). After travelling with Paul to Ephesus and working with the church there (Act 18:18-19, 24-26; 1Co 16:19), we find them back at Rome and hosting a church in their house (Romans 16:3-5).

The reputation of the Christians in Rome was widespread; both their faith (1:8) and obedience (16:19) were well known. For this reason Paul had long wanted to see them (15:23), with the goal of sharing in their mutual edification (1:11-12) and to be assisted on his way to Spain (15:22-24).

Romans 1 starts with some interesting lines of God’s anger. I wanted to break down the lines, so here’s my thoughts.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed

For what did God get angry?

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God... 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

So what was the vengeance, what was the justice God delivered?

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

Again, why did he give them this justice?

25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,

What does it look like when God “gave them up… to impurity, to the dishonor of their bodies;” what happens to people?

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise

So homosexuality is a result of idolatry?

27...[they received] in themselves the due penalty for their error.


28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

So if you are in idolatry you will become a homosexual? NO! This is one example of debasement that occurs. Others include:

29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

When we dishonor God by dishonoring his creation we leave him. We leave THE source of goodness and greatness, we succumb to the curse that comes with walking away from God. Just as you are blessed for blessing God, you cursed for cursing God – Abraham’s blessing in Genesis 12:3 applies to everyone and the “you” is God: I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Consider this blessing is speaking of Abraham’s seed -> Abrahams seed is Jesus (Galatians 3:16) -> Jesus is God.

All immorality comes from not placing God as God.


Romans 2
15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

I wanted to share a thought on the accuse/excuse idea. This is a significant area to understand to be able to hold a gospel presentation for some people. Even with civil laws we strive for an innocence plea because of ignorance to the law. But while we may not know that it is illegal in a particular school to wear a particular color because of gang related events, we do carry a general sense that we should not cause needless trouble in another's life. We carry a sense that we should not be without some sense of modesty.

This sense would accuse us and is the law in everyone's heart

I imagine the excusing element will be similar to what has been explicitly revealed truth - we have revelation that others do not.

David sinned "only to God" with the Bathsheeba/Uriaha incident. No sacrifice would have been accepted only a contrite heart. Similarly, someone who has "conflicting thoughts" about what they have done could be a sign of contrition. This “excuse” phrase requires a wrong to be done, otherwise there is nothing to "excuse."

Conversely, having conflicting thoughts (not before but) after and having no contrition will be their accusation at judgment. So does it follow that one who does not know the Christ can enter heaven if they have lived their life in contrition?

Well Romans 2 does say:
26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?

29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter (of the law.)

There was a time that saints were saved to God before the gospel was revealed and they died. There was a time that saints were saved and the gospel was being revealed but not completely actualized, as with John the Baptist - even he questioned after his own proclamation, if Jesus was the one, asking if he "should seek another." There is a time when the gospel is revealed, saints are saved, even if they have been near the gospel for years and did not respond, as with Fernando Borrego until his mid 20's.

29...His praise is not from man but from God.

Salvation is wholly and completely God's doing. He saved before the gospel, during the gospel, after the gospel; We can only judge (discern) what we know and know by what has been revealed to us. This is a reason we should be slow to judge.

So can someone enter heaven and not know Jesus?

It has happened – speaking of those before Christ. But we don't have the revelation on any particular basis to discern this spiritual matter, we don't need to. I recommend not even trying. Concluding someone is okay because they are ‘contrite-like’ this could make your hands bloody (Ezekiel 33:8). Our mission is not to bring people into the kingdom smelling of smoke and barely passing, but full of crowns, reaping in a harvest of similar disciples! We should not play it safe, being scrupulous, leading in our sphere of influence the light of the gospel.

Passage: Romans 1-3

On Monday, December 3, 2012 (Last Updated on 12/2/2014), Yujin wrote,

What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin (Romans 3:9).

This is the conclusion of the argument that Paul initiated in Romans 1:18. He makes the case that both Jews and Gentiles, that is, all people, stand guilty before God. There is no one who has not submitted themselves to the power of sin. 

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin (Romans 3:20).

As a corollary to the conclusion that all are guilty, Paul gives a perspective on the Law. He says that it does not, indeed cannot, save anyone. All it does for those who hear it is to identify their sins and their sinfulness. 

Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law Romans 3:31).

It is not so much that faith has nullifed the law, but faith has upheld the requirements of the Law. Paul has just demonstrated that all the world is under the power of sin, and whatever law you have in mind, whether it is the law of nature, conscience, or the Mosaic law, no one keeps the law. The law only reveals how far short human beings come from God's standard of righteousness (Romans 3:20, 23) . However, what the law could not do, God did through redemption in Christ by presenting "Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood" (Romans 3:25). In other words, Christ fulfilled the righteous demands of the Law, and the benefits of this is received by people through faith. Therefore, faith establishes the Law for everyone who believes. The righteousness from keeping the Law is imputed to the believer's account, so that even though we are unrighteous by nature, God declares us righteous (i.e. "justifies us") in Christ. 

It is because of this declaration of righteousness that any of us has hope. And because God has accomplished it for us through Christ, there is no place for boasting (Romans 3:27), for "all are justified freely by his grace..." (Romans 3:24). Therefore, as Christians, having been declared righteous, we also pursue a behavioral and attitudinal righteousness in keeping with His Word. But we do this not for merit but out of a new loyalty to the Lord and compelled by an indwelling Holy Spirit and an abiding faith.  

Passage: Romans 1-3

On Friday, March 9, 2012, Bill wrote,

Paul writes to a church in Rome admonishing the Jews that boast of their piousness and adherence to the law (Mosaic law). Pauls point was that righteousness was given by God through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. The Jews sin, particularly the Pharisee, was their hypocrisy as they outwardly worshipped God but this was more for show and to receive recognition from men. The Jewish leadership was often corrupt and dishonest, even taking advantage of widows and showing no compassion for the poor and sick.

(Romans 3:21-31)

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

What I love about Paul was his analytical style of writing, he would have made a good engineer ;o) Paul gives a great testimony to the purpose of Christ sacrifice, which was for the redemption of Jew and Gentile - for all call short of the glory of God! Jews cannot earn their righteousness with their half-hearted attempts to follow the Mosaic Law, but they must depend on Gods grace.

Paul wants the Jew (and Gentile) to know that the law of God requires faith. In fact that our justification (and redemption) comes by faith alone (verse 28), Paul writes that justification is 'apart' from the Law. Finally he writes that faith is not contrary to the law, but Faith upholds the Law. Salvation by faith was given by God and thus is a completion or fulfillment of Gods covenant with the world.

What I take from this passage this morning was Gods amazing grace and love which redeemed us not by our own strength but His. Humanities salvation requires us all to be holy and righteous, but we cannot hold our up our end of the deal (we are sinners). God in his endless compassion and love carries this burden for us through the sacrifice of his son. What an amazing God we serve.

Passage: Romans 1-3

On Friday, January 20, 2012, Unmi wrote,

My long commute back and forth to work is considered "my time."  This is the only time that I have alone.  For 30 minutes back and forth, I talk to God and reflect on my past days and my days to come.  I love listening to Christian music during this commute. Yesterday, I heard a song on the radio called "Someone Worth Dying For."  I've probably heard it before without really thinking about the actual lyrics:

You are more than flesh and bone
Can't you see you're something beautiful
Yeah you gotta believe, you gotta believe
He wants you to see, He wants you to see
That you're not just some wandering soul
That can't be seen and can't be known
Yeah you gotta believe, you gotta believe that you 
Are someone worth dying for
You're someone worth dying for 
You're someone worth dying for

As I thought about the lyric, it actually made me quite upset. Let me explain:

If I am worth dying for, then Christ did nothing special for me when he died on the cross. If I pay $10,000 for a diamond ring that is worth $10,000, then I have not gained or lost anything.  I just paid what it was worth, net gain zero. If I am worth dying for and someone dies for me, then nothing special was done.  The person paid what I am worth. 

The message of the gospel is the exact opposite. I am NOT worth dying for, but Christ died for me. Christ paid a price above and beyond what I am worth. That is what makes the sacrifice so special. To say that I am worth dying for belittles what Christ did for me. 

 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; 
11 there is no one who understands; 
   there is no one who seeks God. 
12 All have turned away, 
   they have together become 
there is no one who does good, 
   not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

It is not I, but Christ who is worth dying for
As Paul said of his life:
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24)
As I write this and read what Paul wrote, it puts me to shame.  Am I living my life like "someone worth dying for" or like someone who believes that Christ is worth dying for?  This is something that has challenged me in the past and still challenges me quite a bit....
I don't mean to be so negative, putting so much "doctrine and theology" into it, but aren't these songs meant to praise God? 
 1 It is good to praise the LORD 
   and make music to your name, O Most High, 
2 proclaiming your love in the morning 
   and your faithfulness at night, 
3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre 
   and the melody of the harp.
 4 For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; 
   I sing for joy at what your hands have done. 
5 How great are your works, LORD, 
   how profound your thoughts! 
6 Senseless people do not know, 
   fools do not understand, 
7 that though the wicked spring up like grass 
   and all evildoers flourish, 
   they will be destroyed forever.
 8 But you, LORD, are forever exalted. (Psalm 92:1-8)
Let us exalt the LORD and praise His good name!


Passage: Romans 1-3

On Friday, December 3, 2010 (Last Updated on 12/3/2011), Yujin wrote,

Friends, do not read this book too quickly. It is filled with life-transforming truths about God and about us and about salvation through Christ. If you read the first three chapters of Romans and conclude that there are good people and bad people in the world, you missed the point, and you are likely blinded by a too-high estimation of yourself and your own misguided sense of righteousness. Paul addresses three groups of people, the "ignorant" ungodly pagan in 1:18-32, the "godly" pagan in 2:1-16, and the "Jew" in 2:17-29. I placed the quotes in describing each group because each group imagines that they are righteous before God when they are, in actuality, unrighteous. Paul argues that God has revealed Himself, whether through creation, through conscience, or through the Law, to each of these groups so that they are without excuse in their unrighteousness. Then, through a series of questions, Romans 3:1-8 expresses the frustration of each group, beginning with the Jew, then the "godly" pagan, and then the "ignorant" ungodly pagan.

So, what is the conclusion of the matter? It is that "both Jews and Greeks are all under sin" (Romans 3:9). And just in case someone might argue that there is a person here or there who might stake a claim to being righteous, Paul continues, "There is none righteous, not even one..." (Romans 3:10). And just in case someone might argue that there is a person here or there who is partially righteous because they seek God or because they do some good things, Paul continues, "There is none who understands, there is none who seeks God; All have turned aside; together they have become useless; There is none who does good, there is not even one."

There are likely some passages where "none" does not mean "not anyone." And there are certainly a number of passages where "all" does not mean "every single person." The reason for this is because there is a difference between "all without exception" and "all without distinction." The first suggests every one or thing in number while the latter may only point to every type. For example, if I say God saves all people, whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free, I am not meaning that every single person will be saved but rather that people of all sorts, without respect to their nationality, gender or class, will be saved. But if I say God will save all people, every single one (this is just hypothetical and not what the Bible teaches), then I would mean not only will God save some of every sort, but He will save every person without exception.

What we have in Romans 3:10-12 is not a "none" without distinction but a "none" without exception. In other words, Paul argues that every single person is under sin, is absent spiritual understanding, does not seek God, and turns away from God. Why is this important? It is a strong argument against those people, who claim that a person's "free will" can muster the faith needed to (1) understand the message of the Gospel and (2) to receive the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. In this text Paul argues, "No way!" The Spirit must regenerate ("new birth") a person for a person to apprehend the Gospel. And God must give the faith "by grace" for a person to believe. But what about "free will"? My friends, by "free will" we become more and more corrupt. By "free will" we will self-destruct and suffer the judgment of God. It is only when God overcomes our "free will" with His grace that we are saved. A careful reading of passages like Ephesians 2:1-10 will reveal this.