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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #24 “What If . . . ?” (A Study of Romans 9)

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 9 each day this week.

What a fascinating section! We have two categories of people here: (1) “the objects of his wrath” and (2) “the objects of his mercy.” And we have two “What if” questions. As I understand this passage, God “bore with great patience” the objects of His wrath. For what purpose? To “show His wrath and make His power known.”

There seems to be a second reason for God’s response to those “objects of His wrath.” He did this “to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy”! What a contrast!

In that second category belongs every born-again believer in Christ, the ones “whom He also called.” And one’s ethnicity is irrelevant — note: “not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.” We have been “prepared in advance for glory”!

What’s one takeaway from this text . . . for you?

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2021 in Romans 9

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #18 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #5c

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s continue to think about the fifth blessing: WE CAN NOW GLORY IN OUR SUFFERINGS (vv. 3-4)!

In the West we suffer from a poor theology of . . . suffering! We do. We need to get back to the Scriptures and recover a biblical glorying in our suffering!

We listed several clear, biblical statements about the believer’s suffering in our last post. But how do we GLORY in our suffering?

Here in Romans 5 Paul explains a bit more what glorying in our suffering involves. He writes, “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Suffering is productive! It is not wasted. There are results that can come about, presumably only by suffering. Want to persevere more? You need to do some suffering! Want to have your character built to be more like Christ? You’re going to have to go through some suffering! Want to have some biblical, not worldly, hope? Apparently that kind of hope can only come through suffering!

Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe Paul is saying that we pursue suffering or that we take a psychologically-twisted joy in suffering. No! But suffering is inevitable as a believer. And the real question is — What will you and I make of our suffering?

May I ask you — how are you suffering right now? The death of a loved one? A struggle at work? Covid-fatigue? Financial challenges? Use your suffering to become more like Christ! And glory in that!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #17 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #5b

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s continue to think about the fifth blessing: WE CAN NOW GLORY IN OUR SUFFERINGS (vv. 3-4)!

In the West we suffer from a poor theology of . . . suffering! We do. We need to get back to the Scriptures and recover a biblical glorying in our suffering!

We listed several clear, biblical statements about the believer’s suffering in our last post. But how do we GLORY in our suffering?

Romans 8 indicates that when we suffer we are somehow sharing in Christ’s suffering (v. 17). To share anything with Him ought to lead us to a sense of glory! We also learn in Romans 8 that present suffering shows us (by way of comparison) the greatest of the glory that will be revealed in us (v. 18). The Apostle Paul defines the suffering of the Ephesians as “your glory” (Eph. 3:13)!

Suffering is a gift that no one wants, but it is described as something granted to the believer (along with belief in Him) (Phil. 1:29). Our participation in Christ’s sufferings is integral to getting to know Christ! (Phil. 3:10).

If someone sent you an invitation that began with the words, “Please join me in suffering . . .”, wouldn’t you think them strange, twisted, in need of medical attention? But the Apostle Paul actually invites the believers in 2 Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel” (1:8; cf. 2:3).

Peter tells us that we’re to follow in Christ’s steps in suffering ( I Pe.2:21); that we’re to suffer for what is right (I Pe. 3:14); that we’re to rejoice in participating in the sufferings of Christ (I Pe. 4:13); that we are to praise God that we suffer as Christians (I Pe. 4:16); and that we’ve been called to God’s eternal glory in Christ after we have suffered a little while (I Pe. 5:10). Wow! If those passages don’t help us to GLORY in our suffering, we’re not paying attention!

But here in Romans 5 Paul explains a bit more what glorying in our suffering involves. And we will look at his explanation in our next post.

 

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #16 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #5a

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s notice this morning the fifth blessing: WE CAN NOW GLORY IN OUR SUFFERINGS (vv. 3-4)!

That just seems pathological, perverted, twisted, abnormal, doesn’t it? We flee suffering. We avoid it like the plague (and we do all we can to avoid plagues too). Why in the world would we “glory” in our sufferings?

Well, we are never told in Scripture to pursue suffering. But suffering inevitably comes to the child of God. Suffering we did not choose for ourselves. Suffering we cannot escape. But what use do we make of suffering?

We follow our Savior, that’s what we do! And He told us clearly that we would suffer.

In the West we suffer from a poor theology of . . . suffering! We do. We need to get back to the Scriptures and recover a biblical glorying in our suffering!

The Lord Jesus said in John 15:20 “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” Acts 9:16 records God’s declaration about the newly converted Saul: “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Here are several clear, biblical statements about the believer’s suffering:
1. We share in Christ’s sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Rom. 8:17).
2. We are to do a cost/benefit analysis and realize that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:18).
3. Suffering and glory are often connected with each other in Scripture, such as in Ephesians 3:13- “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.”
4. We learn that suffering is a grant, a gift. Philippians 1:29 says, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him . . .” According to the Apostle Paul, it is a privilege to participate in Christ’s sufferings as integral to getting to know Christ (Phil. 3:10).
5. Paul actually invites the believers in 2 Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel” (1:8; cf. 2:3).
6. We also have several references to suffering in I Peter (we’re to follow in Christ’s steps in suffering, 2:21; we’re to suffer for what is right, 3:14; we’re to rejoice in participating in the sufferings of Christ, 4:13; we are to praise God that we suffer as Christians, 4:16; we’ve been called to God’s eternal glory in Christ after we have suffered a little while, 5:10).

But how do we glory in our suffering? We will tackle that question in our next post on this topic of suffering.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #15 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #4

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s notice this morning the fourth blessing: WE CAN NOW BOAST IN THE HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD (v. 2).

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a clue what that expression means! Boasting in the Lord makes perfect sense. Boasting in our salvation — brought about by His grace — makes perfect sense. What does it mean to “boast in the hope of the glory of God”?

We will see in our next blessing that we are to “glory in our sufferings”! Perhaps this boasting in the hope of the glory of God is one way to describe our settled position in Christ. We have the certain hope that we will share in His glory and live forever in the presence of the beauty and magnificence of the Trinune God.

But right now — I’ve got some boasting to do.  And so do you. Talk about your hope in Christ today — and brag about His grace and mercy in saving you!

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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One More Quote from Pastor John Piper: God’s Greatness

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in God's greatness

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! (A Study of John 11) Part 23

I believe there is a place for what I call sanctified imagination. If Christians are right about their immediately going to be “with the Lord” upon death, wouldn’t it be the case that Lazarus has just spent several days with His Lord? In heaven?

I know. I know. Some believers think that the Old Testament saints went to a kind of pre-heaven, a holding tank where they awaited the Lord Jesus’ completing the work of atonement and then they would be transferred into heaven proper.

I know the theory. I don’t buy it. I don’t think David and Moses and Abraham were in a lesser state of existence after they died simply because they were Old Testament believers.

So, if we assume Lazarus had been with the Father in heaven, let’s go one step further and imagine a conversation the two had together:

The Father: “Lazarus, it is so good to have you here!”

Lazarus: “Yes, Lord. That sickness was awful and I thought Your Son would save me from death, but I’m sure He had His reasons for staying away.”

The Father: “Yes, Lazarus. About that. We have a plan, but we need your help.”

Lazarus: “My help? I’m dead, Lord.”

The Father: “Yes, yes. I know. And I’m sure you are enjoying the sights and sounds here in heaven with me.”

Lazarus: “Absolutely. It makes death almost welcome to be here with You!”

The Father: “Lazarus, there was something far more important for my Son than His keeping you from dying.”

Lazarus: “Whatever could that be, Lord?

The Father: “Raising you from the dead, as a public event, would provide a significant proof of my Son’s identity and that I sent Him to planet earth on His mission.”

Lazarus: “I’m more than glad to help, Father. But wouldn’t that mean . . .”

The Father: “Yes, Lazarus. I’m afraid so. I need you to go back and get resurrected.”

Lazarus: “Father, I will do it. I want Your Son brought glory more than anything else. More than I want to be with You here in heaven!”

The next voice Lazarus heard was Jesus’ — and it was shouting, “Lazarus, come out!”  (to be continued)

 

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2017 in John 11

 

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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 19)

As we eavesdrop on this famous prayer from the Lord Jesus, we have to be impressed with how often He uses the word WORLD in His prayer.  We’ve looked at 15 of the 17 times He uses the term WORLD (cosmos), asking what He means by that term.  In some verses, He is referring to the PLANET, in some to the PEOPLE of the planet, and in a few to the PAGAN SYSTEM opposing God and the things of God.  Let’s look at His sixteenth use of the term WORLD found in verse 24.

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before 1the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of 2the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for 3the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in 4the world no longer, but they are still in 5the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in 6the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and 7the world has hated them, for they are not of 8the world any more than I am of 9the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of 10the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of 11the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into 12the world, I have sent them into 13the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that 14the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then 15the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of 16the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though 17the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

 

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in glory

 

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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 6)

The Lord Jesus was a man of prayer.  The Son of God, the Second Member of the Trinity, needed to pray!  He became fully human and humans need to pray!  Some of His prayers were for the benefit of others.  Just before He raised His friend Lazarus from the dead, we read, 41 “So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (Jn. 11).  Allowing others to eavesdrop on His pray was important to the Lord Jesus — it was so “they may believe that you sent me.”

Here in John 17, Jesus is alone with His Father.  And His prayer is rich and personal.  But His requests are for His disciples.  Let’s notice this section one more time —

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

What does He pray for concerning His disciples?  First of all, He gives thanks that His followers have obeyed God’s Word and have accepted the words Jesus gave them (vv. 6-7).  Second, they believed that the Father sent the Son (v. 8).  Third, Jesus states that “glory has come to me through them” (v. 10).  Wow.  Embarrassment, certainly.  But glory?  Fourth, He prays for His disciples who will remain in the world and continue His work (v. 11).  We will look a bit at the believer in the world in our next post.  Today?  Bring glory to the Lord Jesus!  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2017 in prayer

 

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What Did Jesus Pray About? (Part 4)

Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 merits serious attention by the believer.  Let’s ask what prayer meant to Him. What does His prayer say about His relationship to the Father?  His relationship to us?  Here’s the section of that prayer we want to focus on one more time.

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

The Lord Jesus makes some astounding claims in these verses.  He claims a unique relationship with the Father, a claim that led to His execution.  He claims to have been given the authority to give eternal life to all that the Father has given Him!  And He asks that His pre-creation glory be restored!  Isaiah 42:8 says that Jehovah would not share His glory with another.  Here we learn that Jesus shared the Father’s glory.  The only conclusion possible is that Jesus is God the Son!

This is the One who is praying.  And if He, the very Son of God, needed to pray this way, how much more do we need to prostrate ourselves before the Lord?  For today.  And today’s challenges.  (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2017 in prayer

 

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