Sunday, April 16, 2017, 6:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 1:1-17 (NASB).
Obedience of Faith (vv. 1-7)
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We, who are believers in Jesus Christ, are called of God as saints. So, what does it mean to be a saint? It means we are set apart from (different, unlike) the world of sin because we are being conformed to the image of Christ. It means “likeness of nature with the Lord” because “different from the world” (biblehub.com). We are sanctified (made holy, purified) by God’s grace through God-given faith in Jesus Christ. We are not like the world. We are not conformed to the patterns (ways) of this sinful world, but we are transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of our minds. Not only are we set apart from the world, but we are set apart to God and to his service. We are called to the obedience of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Yet, this is not what is being taught in many of our churches here in America. The vast majority of the church here apparently is preaching a gospel of salvation different from the one Jesus and his NT apostles taught. These masqueraders of truth are telling people only half the truth, which is a lie, because many of them willfully leave out the other half.
Yet, many are telling the people that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, and that he was resurrected from the dead, and that he ascended to heaven, and that he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his followers. And, they are teaching them that it is by grace we are saved, through faith – and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). This is obviously true, but they leave out the next verse which says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
So, they only tell them the half about Jesus dying for us, but they don’t tell them the half of what it means to truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord (owner-master) of our lives. They tell them that he died that we might be free from eternal damnation and have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth, but they don’t tell them that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. They reduce faith to something of human origin, but the kind of faith which saves us is God-given. Since it is given to us by God, it is conformed to God’s holiness and righteousness. This God-given faith means that we are divinely persuaded by God as to his perfect will for our lives. If we are persuaded, then we submit ourselves to the cross of Christ, to our Lord, to the obedience of faith, to his holiness, and we surrender our all to Jesus. He is now our Lord and we are his bond-slaves.
Encourage One Another (vv. 8-15)
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 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. I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
So, how about us? If our faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world, what do you suppose people would be saying about us? How would they describe our faith? And I am including myself here, because I am still growing in faith. We all should be. As well, if we are to encourage one another, each of us by the other’s faith, what would that look like, as well? And, do we do this? If so, what words would we be saying to each other to encourage each other by our own faith? Do we even have a concept of what that might look like? And, is this something we have ever experienced?
From my own experience, I would have to say that up until maybe 1986 I had people in my life who did this with me, and me with them regularly. Since then it has been hit and miss to find people who even have a desire to do this, or who even have some idea of what this entails, except for maybe some people on the internet, or occasionally with some people in person. And, I miss this kind of Christian fellowship which I experienced in years gone by. I find, often, that Christians today are uncomfortable talking about spiritual things unless it is in an organized gathering of the church where they are talking about what the Bible teaches on a particular subject. There are people who do talk about the Lord as part of their daily conversation, but it doesn’t seem to be many who do, at least not where I live or have lived.
So, why is this? Why do Christians have no problem talking about everything but the Lord? Why do we get this idea that “religious” conversations are to be in the setting of church gatherings, but not part of our everyday lives? Or, that we should keep the topics of conversation light and fluffy, so as not to offend anyone? Why are we afraid of what people will think of us? Why is it ok to talk about TV, movies, Facebook, sports, hobbies, and the like, but not talk with each other about our personal walks of faith in Christ in order to encourage one another to also walk in holiness? Has the church gotten so worldly that they have lost sight of what it means to be a follower of Christ?
I’m Not Ashamed (vv. 16-17)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
We should not be ashamed to talk with one another about Jesus Christ, his gospel, and our faith in him. This should be as natural to us as anything else we do, and even more so. And, we should not feel uncomfortable when others attempt to share their faith in Jesus with us, to encourage us in our walks of faith. Back in the day, my friends and I would call each other on the phone and we would share with each other something from our devotions from that day, or something God had laid on our hearts, or something we felt God was leading us to share with them specifically, like a song or a scripture. I still do this with other believers, but I don’t find that many people are receptive to it, or that they are responsive to it, even though scripture says we are to do this, and we need to do this with each other.
We should also not be ashamed to talk with unbelievers or with people we don’t know about Jesus Christ, or even with friends and family members. Time is short, and there are many people who need to believe in Jesus. So, we need the courage of the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom of God, and we need to follow the example of Jesus Christ in his daily walk, and we need to share Jesus with those who don’t know him, and we need to share our faith with one another, because we need to be encouraged and strengthened in our faith, especially in the times in which we now live. May God direct us in this.
Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012
I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.
Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.
Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.