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Discuss the tough questions relating to the Christian Faith. Present the Scripture in an interdenominational fashion demonstrating those things we hold in common and provoking thought whenever possible. Hopefully you will find things here that will encourage you to study more deeply that all of Scripture will be at home in your heart.


Romans 1:25 - The Day Trader

Romans 1:25

"For they exchanged3337 the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (NASB)

"Who changed3337 the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." (KJV)

"They traded3337 the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen." (NLT)

Exchanged (metēllaxan). First aorist active indicative of metallassō, old word for exchanging trade, used only here and Romans 1:26 in N.T. What a bargain they made, “the truth of God for (en) the (tōi) lie.” “The price of mythology” (Bengel). A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament

"We shall the less wonder at the inefficacy of these natural discoveries to prevent the idolatry of the Gentiles if we remember how prone even the Jews, who had scripture light to guide them, were to idolatry; so miserably are the degenerate sons of men plunged in the mire of sense." Matthew Henry (1662 - 1714)

"The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He trusts something that can't help him at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, "Is this idol that I'm holding in my hand a lie?" Isaiah 44:20 NLT

"The whole human race is foolish and has no knowledge! The craftsmen are disgraced by the idols they make, for their carefully shaped works are a fraud. These idols have no breath or power." Jeremiah 10:14 NLT

"This is your allotment, the portion I have assigned to you," says the LORD, "for you have forgotten Me, putting your trust in false gods." Jeremiah 13:25

We live in a day where technology has transformed the way we live in ways that we could not imagine.  My father was born in 1899 and lived to see the Wright Brothers fly and watch man land on the moon while sitting in front of his own television set.  I am sure that even then he could not have foreseen a time when people would be walking down the street talking on cell phones and sending electronic messages from their personal digital assistants.  Yet we have an admonition from Matthew Henry to help us keep on track.  It is not hard to see how the gentiles (that's us) could so easily turn from the "One True God" and worship things created when the Jews, who had the light of God's Word to guide them turned away as well.  What about us in this twenty-first century?  Do our lives reflect the object of our worship?  Do our leaders manifest the integrity resident in our forefathers?  Or are we, like the gentiles and Jews of then, "plunged in the mire of sense?"

Thank you God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for your longsuffering toward me and the sinful heart that beats within my chest.  Thanks for the salvation that is in Christ Jesus to everyone who believes (even me!).  Thanks that I am somehow inexplicably yoked with the Son of God in everyday life that I might grow in Him.  Help me today to see the world through the eyes of your Son.


Romans 1:24 - Abandonment

Romans 1:24

"Therefore God gave them overG3860 in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them." (NASB)

"Wherefore God also gave them upG3860 to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:" (KJV)

"So God abandoned themG3960 to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired.  As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies." (NLT)

παραδίδωμι
paradidōmi

Thayer Definition:
1) to give into the hands (of another)
2) to give over into (one’s) power or use
2a) to deliver to one something to keep, use, take care of, manage
2b) to deliver up one to custody, to be judged, condemned, punished, scourged, tormented, put to death
2c) to deliver up treacherously
2c1) by betrayal to cause one to be taken
2c2) to deliver one to be taught, moulded
3) to commit, to commend
4) to deliver verbally
4a) commands, rites
4b) to deliver by narrating, to report
5) to permit allow
5a) when the fruit will allow that is when its ripeness permits
5b) gives itself up, presents itself

Gave them up — This divine abandonment of men is here strikingly traced in three successive stages, at each of which the same word is used (Rom 1:24, Rom 1:26; and Rom 1:28, where the word is rendered “gave over”).  “As they deserted God, God in turn deserted them; not giving them divine (that is, supernatural) laws, and suffering them to corrupt those which were human; not sending them prophets, and allowing the philosophers to run into absurdities.  He let them do what they pleased, even what was in the last degree vile, that those who had not honored God, might dishonor themselves” [Grotius] as cited in A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown.

We are all familiar with the law of gravity and who created it.  He begins the revelation of another law herein called "divine abandonment."  We often forget that our sin brings with it a certain reward.  This becomes then the gravity of our own sin.  We are abandoned by God to swim in a pool full of our own sin that permeates every fiber of our being and leads us ever onward toward total perversity.  The key repeated phrase then becomes, "God gave them up."  First here abandoned to our own hearts.  He begins the battle between the "law of my mind," "the law of God," "the law of sin and death," and the "law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus."  In the former there is no hope. In the last there is every hope!  This multiple chapter indictment used to be taught in law school.  In fact in times past a Biblical education was required to enter law school.  It was thought that if you could not rightfully divide God's law, you had no business writing law.

Thanks you dear heavenly Father for your presence in the daily battles of life.  Thank you that because of your love that stooped for me that I am held safe in your hands.  Thank you for your word that reveals who I really am and also reveals the hope of salvation in Christ Jesus.  May your word touch the hearts of a lost and dying world today.


Spiritual Warfare - Know the Enemy

What I would like to ask, and then answer is this: "Of those three; the world the flesh and the devil, which one should we as believers be most concerned with? Can we consider one above the others a more 'formidable' enemy? Have you ever thought about it? Why or why not?

Consider those rhetorical questions, I am not after an argument or debate. I think scripture tells us which of the three causes us the most problems; not in exact words, but implicitly nonetheless.

Some years ago now, when I was traveling in Christian circles that made much of battling Satan, and blaming him for just about everything from the evils in the world to individual sins (If he didn't tempt us we wouldn't sin, would we? ), I had one of those "moments", the kind that happen when you hit a passage of scripture that sort of settles an issue, or question you might have about your Christian walk. There have been a few of those through the years, some more memorable than others. This was one of those more memorable "moments".

Now that you're sitting there on pins and needles for the answer I said I would give you, here it is:

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." - James 1:14

As far as I'm concerned, that one passage tells me which of the big three I should be more concerned with. All that the world has to offer me would be nothing to me if I didn't have "my own lust" - those desires still lurking within that are at odds with, yet live along side the new nature in Christ. If you don't believe me just ask the Apostle Paul - read Romans 7. Likewise, Satan would not be able to tempt me with anything If I did not have "my own lust". All of his schemes and cunning devices would be worthless!

So there's an old soldier's answer to the original question. I hope that didn't sound too simplistic. Our own flesh, with it's evil desires, is our most formidable foe in the battle against the Big Three.

So what do we do? How to defeat the flesh? How do we "walk in the spirit"? There are probably several sound biblical answers to those questions and I'm glad you asked. (You were asking, weren't you?)

Of all the things I can come up with that we should be doing, the activities or behavior we should or should not be engaged in, one thing stands out as of most importance:

" For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" - 2 Cor 10:3-5 (Emphasis mine)

What does that mean? How do you do that? Again, thanks for asking! I don't think that's rocket science either. Read the Book. If you are His, you already have a desire to do so, a grand desire to know Him, His thoughts, His commands, His desire/plan for you as His child (Phil 2:13). read His book! Get to know Him and you will truly taste eternal life here on earth (John 17:3)

Friends, the front line of spiritual warfare begins at home, in our own minds, in our own thought life!

If you were waiting to hear the Ephesians 6 thing about putting on the armor of God, while that's part of it, we'll get to that in another post.

May God richly bless you as you "bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ"!


Romans 1:23 - American Idol Rewind

Romans 1:23

"and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." (NASB)

"And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." (KJV)

"And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles." (NLT)

Here is a place in Holy Scripture that gives exacting refutation to the idea that man climbed out of the tree and began worshiping a stick and then worked his way up to worshiping God.  We did not evolve but rather declined or degenerated.  What kind of "Sonlight" do we seek?  Do we wish to bask in the glorious glow of the incorruptible God or would we rather recline in the tanning booth?  According to this writ we are prone to the latter.  Is this really our "free will" choice or rather the choice of the depraved?

Father in Heaven thank you for the Amazing Grace that transforms slave traders into pastors.  Thanks that you found me in the midst of depravity where I chose not to worship the only true God but rather the things of this world.


Once Saved, Always Saved?

While that might be true, it might not be the best way to ask the question, or discuss the issue. Passages that support the position that once a person believes in the person and work of Jesus Christ as God's Son (has been 'saved' from condemnation), that person will remain 'saved' are these:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them , and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

“We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Any one who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (I John 5:9-12)

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 5:13)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. Through faith you are shielded by God’s power until the coming of salvation…” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

The above passages are often used to support the slightly broader subject of the 'assurance' of salvation, that we can know with certainty that, as believers, we are in fact children of God through Christ. They bring great comfort to us when the enemy brings doubt into our minds. Two passages specifically speak to what can be more properly termed the 'perseverance' of believers - that once a person belongs to God through Christ, he/she will always belong to God through Christ.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them , and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. Through faith you are shielded by God’s power until the coming of salvation…” (1 Peter 1:3-5)

There is a subtle difference in saying "I was saved and I will always be saved." or saying "The God who saved me can and will also keep me in His hand." While both might be true, the focus of the former often becomes "I" and focus of the latter is God. The first often gives rise to boasting (or the appearance of boasting) while the second gives God all the credit.

The bottom line, no matter how we discuss the issue, Scripture simply rules the day!


Romans 1:22 - A Fool Full of Wisdom

Romans 1:22

"Professing to be wise, they became fools," (NASB)

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools," (KJV)

"Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools." (NLT)

Professing themselves to be wise - This was the common boast of the philosophers of antiquity.  The very word by which they chose to be called, “philosophers,” means literally “lovers of wisdom.” (Barnes)  This is also our boast of today.  How many of us think that we know? A short walk through the halls of our institutions of national government reveal 565 opposing opinions. The reality is that as humankind we don't care much about right, we just want to win the argument.  This boasting about our wisdom is not a new thing!

Rom 1:14 "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish." (NASB)

1 Cor 1:19-22 "For it is written, 'I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;" (NASB)

1 Cor 3:19 "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS;'" (NASB)

2 Cor 11:19 "For you, being so wise, tolerate the foolish gladly." (NASB)

G3471
μωραίνω
mōrainō

Thayer Definition:
1) to be foolish, to act foolishly
2a) to make foolish
2a1) to prove a person or a thing foolish
2b) to make flat and tasteless
2b1) of salt that has lost its strength and flavor
Part of Speech: verb

Mat 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become3471 tasteless3471, how, can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."

To be called foolish by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be made nothing!  It is from this nothingness that I have been purchased by the precious blood of the Savior.  He sought me when I was not seeking Him.  He bought me when I was deep in sin.  He cleansed me and calls me His friend.


Predestination, Election, and Foreknowledge

Ephesians 1:5 tells us that God “predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” According to this verse, the basis of our being predestined is not something that we do or will do, but is based solely on the will of God for His own pleasure. As Romans 9:15-16 says, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.” Similarly, Romans 9:11 declares regarding Jacob and Esau, “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls.” Then again in Ephesians 1:11 we see that people are “chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” From these and many others passages, we see that Scripture consistently teaches that predestination or election is not based upon something that we do or will do. God predestined people based on His own sovereign will to redeem for Himself people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. God predetermined or predestined this from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) based solely on His sovereign will and not because of anything that He knew the people would do.

But what about Romans 8:29 where it says that those “He foreknew, He also predestined”? Doesn’t that seem to say that predestination is based upon the foreknowledge of God? Of course, the answer is yes, it does teach that predestination is based on the foreknowledge of God. But what does the word foreknowledge mean? Does it mean “based upon God’s knowledge of the future,” meaning God simply looks down through the future and sees who will believe the gospel message and then predestines or elects them? If that were the case, it would contradict the verses above from Romans and Ephesians that make it very clear election is not based on anything man does or will do.

Fortunately, God does not leave us to wonder about this issue. In John 10:26, Jesus said, “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.” The reason some people believe is that they belong to God. They were chosen for salvation, not based on the fact that they would one day believe, but because God chose them for “adoption as sons in Christ Jesus” before they ever existed. The reason one person believes and another person does not is that one person has been adopted by God and the other has not. The truth is that the word foreknew in Romans 8:29 is not speaking of God's knowing the future. The word foreknowledge is never used in terms of knowing about future events, times or actions (God’s omniscience). What it does describe is a predetermined relationship in the knowledge of God whereby God brings the salvation relationship into existence by decreeing it into existence ahead of time.

The word know is sometimes used in the Bible to describe an intimate or personal relationship between a man and a woman. In a similar sense, before God ever created the heavens and earth, and a long time before we were ever born, God knew His elect in a personal way and chose them to be His sheep, not because they would someday follow Him but in order to guarantee that they would follow Him. His knowing them and choosing them is the reason they follow Him, not the other way around. The issue really is not whether or not God knows who will believe, but why some believe and others do not. The answer to that is God chooses to have mercy on some and others He leaves in their sinful rebellion.

The following quote by John Murray is excellent in dealing with this issue:

"Even if it were granted that ‘foreknew’ means the foresight of faith, the biblical doctrine of sovereign election is not thereby eliminated or disproven. For it is certainly true that God foresees faith; He foresees all that comes to pass. The question would then simply be: whence proceeds this faith, which God foresees? And the only biblical answer is that the faith which God foresees is the faith He himself creates (cf. John 3:3-8; 6:44, 45, 65; Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29; 2 Peter 1:2). Hence His eternal foresight of faith is preconditioned by His decree to generate this faith in those whom He foresees as believing."

From: GotQuestions.org

Recommended Resource: Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer.


Romans 1:21 - Dark and Confused

Romans 1:21

"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (NASB)

"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (KJV)

"Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused." (NLT)

G1097
γινώσκω
ginōskō

Thayer Definition:

1) to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel
1a) to become known
2) to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of
2a) to understand
2b) to know
3) Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman
4) to become acquainted with, to know
Part of Speech: verb

Even the words of “Marcus Tullius Cicero,” the Roman philosopher and politician in the waning years of the Roman Republic, (de Natura Deorum, lib. ii. c. 6) will show that they had the knowledge of one God.  “There is something in the nature of things, which the mind of man, which reason, which human power cannot effect; and certainly what produces this must be better than man.  What can this be called but “God?...What can be so plain and manifest, when we look at heaven, and contemplate heavenly things, as that there is some divinity of most excellent mind, by which these things are governed?”

The process outlined herein is this:
(1) That people had the knowledge of God.
(2) that they refused to honor him when they knew him, and were opposed to his character and government.
(3) that they were ungrateful.
(4) that they then began to doubt, to reason, to speculate, and wandered far into darkness.

Isn't this who we are today? We wander away from God. We have the knowledge of God, but we do not love him; and since we are dissatisfied with his character and government, we begin to speculate, fall into error, and then “find no end in wandering mazes lost1,” and sink into the depths of heresy and of sin.

1Milton, Paradise Lost, II. 560-1

"Jesus answered them, 'To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.'" (Mat 13:11 NASB)

"and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:19 NASB)

Oh how thankful is my heart to know Christ and to see the vast pit from whence I was saved.  Elation of my inner being gushes forth into praise hallelujahs that cannot be restrained.  In the midst of my sin darkened heart burns a flame unquenchable the essence of a pure and holy love that stooped to save a "wretch like me!"  Maranatha!


Why Does God Save Sinners?

Does these passages give us a clue to the main reason God forgives and saves sinners?

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)

For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake! (Psalm 79:9)

Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you. (Jeremiah 14:7)

We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you. Do not spurn us, for your name's sake; do not dishonor your glorious throne. (Jeremiah 14:20-21)

God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26)

Your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. (1 John 2:12)

As evangelical Christians, we are charged with spreading the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The manner in which we carry out that charge, the reasons we give for trusting in and receiving Christ as Savior and Lord, will always communicate to the hearers why God desires to save their souls. After all, we all have reasons for why we do what we do and for the decisions we make. We will always give reasons why our hearers should choose Christ. 

The challenge for all of us who are carriers of the good news of Christ is to communicate the right WHY. It is even possible to determine if we in fact are communicating the right 'why'. We can examine how we present the gospel and ask ourselves if our how communicates the why.

Food for thought. . .


Romans 1:20 - The Witness of Creation

Romans 1:20

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (NASB)

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" (KJV)

"For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." (NLT)

The invisible things of God refer to that which cannot be perceived by the senses.  It is not an implication that His divine character can be seen by the eye but that there are things about Him that we may discover.

We all have our reasons in life for not knowing God.  We are raised in a society that considers science to have fully enlightened the world.  We are, after all, Americans and we put men on the Moon.  But from where did the Moon come?  I guess it must be the arrogance that lives in my heart that would allow me to think that the orderliness that exists in the universe is a matter of "natural selection" or the descendent of the primordial soup.  But I am without excuse because the handiwork of Almighty God is displayed for my eyes to see.  The more I look the more wondrous it becomes.  The bigger the telescope or the stronger the microscope the larger and more complex the questions to be answered.