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Archive for the 'Romans' Category

Sermon - Romans 5:1-11

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Count Your Blessings, Christian!

Romans 5:1-11 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but let us also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Introduction

Part 1

1. We have peace with God.
2. We have access to God.
3. We have a glorious hope.


Steve Testimony

Part 2

4. We develop Godly character.
5. We have God's love.
6. We have the Holy Spirit.
7. We have salvation from future wrath of God.
8. We have reconciliation with God.

Part 3 - Recap and Conclusion


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Sermon - Freedom To Live

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Freedom To Live!

Romans 8:18-30

Freedom to Live

In the Bible, all roads or paths seemingly lead to Romans. Paul here in chapters 5-8, is giving glimpses from different angles about the Christian living under and within grace – God’s unmerited favour to undeserving sinners. It’s like he is creating this fabulous stained glass sphere depicting life for the Christian believer who is now under grace and has Jesus as their master and Lord.

In our passage from Romans 8, we come to another angle with another scenario. This passage of the Bible is diamond encrusted gold. The purest of gold and clearest of diamonds! Some people consider that speaking about this passage is akin to somebody trying to describe Beethoven’s 9th symphony with mere words. If that were true, then tonight we have the Ode to Joy!

We live in a troubled world. I am sure you are aware. As did the original recipients of Paul’s letter. Now Paul is assuring his Roman readers that even when the troubles of life hit them, God is secure and their salvation is assured – despite what anybody can do to them or what troubles they may have to endure. Paul is assuring them that God will not separate Himself from them during their pains and trials of life.

I wonder what you are undergoing currently in your life. Suffering comes to us all in one-way or another. John! Cathie! Suffering of varying degrees is common to all people of all time and of all cultures. Whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others, troubles and sufferings unite all of humanity. It is a common denominator. And of course there are no easy answers. With that said, let us look together at this most wonderful piece of Scripture.


1. Freedom from pain and suffering.

a. Creation groans (Read vs. 18-22).

When God finished His creation, it was a good Creation. Just as Adam was made in the image of God, so are we. But because of Adam’s sin, this imperfect world, including us, bears the mark of sin. The creation is fallen & marred as are all humans. Creation is groaning. There is suffering and death; there is pain, all of which is, of course, the result of Adam's sin. It is not the fault of creation. Note the words Paul used to describe the plight of creation: suffering (Romans 8:18), pride (Romans 8:20), bondage (Romans 8:21), decay (Romans 8:21), and pain (Romans 8:22).

However, this groaning is not a useless thing. Why? Paul goes on to compare it to a woman giving birth. There is pain, but the pain will end when the child is born. One day creation will be delivered, and the groaning creation will become a glorious creation! As people of the kingdom, Paul exhorts his readers to not focus on the sufferings of today; but look forward to the coming glory. Today's groaning bondage will be exchanged for tomorrow's glorious freedom.


b. The Members of the Kingdom groan (Read vs. 23-25).

The creation groans as do we. The reason we as Christians groan, writes Paul, is because we have experienced what he calls "the first-fruits of the Spirit!" That is a foretaste of the glory to come when we shall live with our King in glory. Just as the nation of Israel tasted the first-fruits of Canaan when the spies returned (Numbers 12:23-27), so we Christians have tasted of the first blessings of heaven through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This should encourage us to want to see the Lord, receive a new body to live with Him and serve Him forever in everlasting life. We are waiting for "the great adoption," which is the redemption of our bodies when Jesus returns again. This is the thrilling climax to "the adoption" that took place at our conversion when the "Spirit of adoption" gave us the standing of an adult in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus returns, we shall enter into our full inheritance.

Meanwhile we wait and hope as Paul writes here in Romans 8v24. What hope is this we ask? It is "The blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). The best is yet to come!! As Christians, people of the Kingdom of God, as God’s children, we should not get frustrated as we see and experience suffering and pain in this world as we live in the Kingdom. Paul exhorts that Christian believers should know and remember that the suffering of today, will one day give way to eternal glory.


c. The Holy Spirit groans. (Read vs. 26-30)

So creation groans. God’s Kingdom people groan. What about God? Is He a distant God who is not concerned with the sufferings of His creation or His people? By no means!! Our God is not a distant God but a God actively concerned for His creation and for His people! God is concerned about the sufferings we go through and the troubles we endure. He desires for the redemption of His creation and His people!

When Jesus walked the earth, He saw what sin was doing to men, women and creation (Mark 7:34; John 11:33-38) and this happened. Jesus wept. Isn’t that profound?

Paul writes that God the Holy Spirit groans with us and that He feels the burdens of our weaknesses and suffering and lifts us. He is the Comforter. He is the Counsellor! He is the Helper who lives within us. As we struggle to persevere as we sometimes do, is it because forget to ask for His help, His comfort and His wisdom?

But the Spirit does more than groan: He prays for us in His groaning so that we might be led into the will of God. We do not always know God's will. We do not always know how to pray, but the Spirit intercedes for us so that we might live in the will of God even though we are suffering in some way. The Holy Spirit shares the burden with us as we endure and persevere.


2. Freedom for God!


I would like to concentrate here on verse 28 and I like the way The Message translation of the Bible paraphrases it “That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

“For your good” is a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament. Joseph, Moses and Jeremiah were surely in Paul’s mind! For example, from Genesis 50, Joseph after he is reunited with his brothers said this:

Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Moses as he tried to get Israel into shape, while they whinged and whined about the Law frequently told them it was for their own good.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

Or take Jeremiah, as the ancient Israelites were in exile

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Millions of Christians over the centuries have taken great comfort and hope from Romans 8:28. I wonder if any of the recipients of this letter, recalled Paul’s words to them when that horrible little man, the Emperor Nero butchered the Christians in Rome just a few short years later. I wonder what their response was and I imagine that they were comforted.

Paul writes here “In all things God works for our good.” Now the phrase, “all things” includes not only the good, the happy and the pleasant things in life, but also the bad, the unhappy and the unpleasant things as well. It includes evil, sickness and death. At the times when we are happy and things are going well, it is very easy to agree with this verse. But in times of trouble, this verse is hard to understand and still harder to believe.

For the millions, of Christians who have spent their lives in jail, or have been killed for the faith, we cannot possibly say that all things have been for their good in this world. If that is so, how then are we to understand this verse?

Perhaps we should understand it this way. All the things that happen to us here on earth, God will work for our good in heaven. In the previous verses, Paul teaches about our future hope and future glory. Therefore, in this verse the good that Paul talks about is heavenly good, not earthly good.

But having said that, it is also true that God is concerned for our welfare in this earthly life. He cares about our bodies, our health, even our food and clothing. When God allows trouble to come into our lives, He usually uses that trouble to bring about some good result in our lives here on earth according to both our writer, Paul and to the Apostle James (Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4). For example, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had that stroke back in 2003. It is through troubles that our faith is tested and strengthened (1 Peter 1:6-7). Through various kinds of trouble God disciplines us, so that we might become more that is more like His Son, Jesus Christ, according to the writer of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 12:7,10-11).

The most important thing to remember about this verse, however, is that the promise given here is only applicable to those who love God - those who are his children and in His kingdom. That is those have been called according to His purpose and are therefore members of the kingdom of God. If we love God, called according to His purpose, and therefore members of the Kingdom of God, then we can fully trust Him to work for our good in all things. Our hope is in God; He is faithful and able to fulfil all He has promised. If this does not describe you, then please do see somebody after we finish in a short time.

As those who are in the Kingdom of God, that would call themselves believing Christians, Paul exhorts us to never give up in times of trial and suffering because God is at work in the world (Romans 8:28). Paul encourages us that God has a perfect supreme plan (Romans 8:29) and that He has two purposes in that plan: our good and His glory.

Ultimately we will be transformed into the Lord Jesus Christ – that is God’s ultimate goal for us – to be like His Son. Best of all, God's plan will succeed – He has the victory and that victory was gained at the Cross of Calvary. It started in eternity when He chose us in Jesus Christ. God predestined that one day we would be like His Son. The word predestination here applies only to those in the Kingdom of God, not to those outside the Kingdom. Nowhere in Scripture are we taught that God chooses who will remain outside the kingdom.

If people remain outside the kingdom, it is because they choose to, by refusing to trust and believe in Jesus Christ. Those whom He chose, God called (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)' when they responded to His call. He justified them by taking away their guilt and sin, and He also glorified them. This means that the believer has already been glorified in Jesus (John 17:22); the revelation of the glory awaits the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Recapitulate

So let’s recapitulate and then conclude. There is no point somebody speaking up here if there is no application given to us to go on with as we walk the Christian life under grace.

We have seen together that God is not distant but is close and personal and that we know He Himself has suffered. He cares for His creation and for His people through the ministry of the God the Holy Spirit. Times of trouble may come, and we are being transformed into the image of God the Son, Jesus Christ.

We have seen that we will one day have freedom from pain and suffering. Freedom to truly live! We also saw that there is to be no fear from separation from God. God is for us. Christ died for us. God the Holy Spirit lives within us, praying for us, guiding us, empowering us and is the seal of our salvation. God has declared us His sons and daughters if we choose to follow Him. Jesus Christ prays for us and He loves us.

Do you sometimes get discouraged and frustrated in times of trouble as I do sometimes? I have to ask myself questions. Questions such as how can we believers ever be discouraged and frustrated when we already share the glory of God? Our suffering today, guarantees much glory for us, when Jesus Christ Himself returns in glory!

How can we be discouraged when the God we love and serve, who has called us to follow Him, who Himself had great anxiety the night before He suffered and died on the cross? How can we be discouraged, when we know that this Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back to the Father. Jesus still had his scars when he ascended. How can we be discouraged when this Jesus will come back again one day to gather us?

Where is God? What does He have to do with it? God does not shelter us from the sufferings and hard times of life because we need them for our spiritual growth (Romans 5:3-5) and for our transformation into the image of Jesus, God’s Son. As we read in vs.28, God assures us that the difficulties of life are working for us and not against us. God allows trials and sufferings to come that they may be used for our good and His glory. We endure trials for His sake (Romans 8:36), and since we do, do you think that He will abandon us? Of course not! Instead, He lifts us through the hard times.


Conclusion

Folks, we all have troubles. There are no easy answers to most of them. I don’t even have answers for my own troubles. My memory some days is like a sieve. Other days it is more like a funnel. But I know God is there – I may forget many things but I have not yet forgotten that. It is God whom I depend upon and personally know to be totally reliable in every way. For those in the community out there, we need to be God’s hands and feet. We need to radically show people out there and in here, that God radically cares and loves for each of them. Too often people in need, both within the church and outside it, are shown care and concern for a little while. But gradually as time goes on, the caring and loving of that person diminishes and ultimately ceases. Dogged persevering to love and care is required. We can love and care for all using the power and imagination of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
All sorts of excuses are given for not showing care and love, but in reality, there can be no excuse or reason. Not caring means not loving. Love is to be for all people, regardless of personalities, conflicts, opinions, gender, sexuality, prejudice and bias. You don’t have to agree with people’s choices but you do have to show you love and care for them.


Lots of people leave churches through the back door, because they don’t get the care they need and desire. Lots of people won’t even listen to us because they see that churches and Christians are not showing love towards them or others they know. Too often, I would say.

Too often a church can be too interested in its own little world, concerned for its own little programme, rather than God’s programme of love and care for all people. They are churches that look after only the interest of select people within its walls and community. The church is to look after all interests of all members of its local community and those who come within its walls. .

If you are a Christian here tonight, the troubles and suffering we endure, are all part of living in the kingdom of God. Part of life. It is, as we look to the future, as we see that we are being transformed into the image of Jesus and to the supreme glory of God. Not for our own glory. In any pain or suffering we endure, we shouldn't give up, we persevere. God perseveres with us because God has not given us up and neither has He given up on us. God the Son died on the cross and rose again from the dead so that you may have new life! God the Holy Spirit lives within you! For it is when we are weak, that God is strong. Hold on to Jesus. The Jesus who said “Come to me all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

The Jesus that will one day take our face in His hands and wipe away our tears. Oh what a day! We will say, it was all worth it. And yet, even though I know this, I still have the impudence to often cry out with frustration and confusion to the Father “Why Dad?” And then He assures me that he loves me with an everlasting and enduring love.

As CS Lewis once wrote: “If God is wiser than us, His judgement must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil.”

Let’s go and radically love and care for others that we meet or others that we know who need to see God’s radical love and care in action.

However, if you happen not to be a Christian, you are separated from God. He doesn’t have you in His hand. To be in the kingdom of God, you simply have to trust in Jesus, and believe in Him for your future. If that is you, please do not leave here tonight without talking to somebody such as Chris and Sue about how you can take that step. They would love to help you.

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Sermon - Romans 1-3

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A God of Salvation

Romans 1:16-17

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed-a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." 


Romans 3:21-24

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Introduction

Paul in this letter is writing to Roman believers a synopsis of his beliefs, and to church leaders in Jerusalem where he would have to make an adequate explanation of himself.  The language and concepts shared in these passages are that the Gospel of God is that salvation is for all who believe; righteousness of God; universality of both salvation and judgment; and that salvation and righteousness are available through faith.  The adversative "But" in Romans 3:21 heralds the solution, but the text in between these verses highlights humanity's unrighteousness and need of God's righteousness.


1. The Problem

"All have sinned" (Romans.3:23).  Our inherent sinful nature of unrighteousness comes to all mankind from the first rebellion against God by Adam.  To be with God eternally we need to be declared righteous, for unrighteousness cannot enter the holy and righteous presence of God.  So for humanity, created in God's image (Genesis.1:26) to re-enter God's presence, each person needs to be declared righteous and thereby justified. 

Justification is the transformation from a condemned criminal to that of an heir awaiting a majestic legacy.  If God doesn't punish unrighteousness, then God would have to destroy not only us, but also Himself.  Holiness is an absolute attribute of God, which requires the punishment of any impurity or unrighteousness (that is sin), and if unrighteousness remained unpunished, God would cease to be God and we would cease to be human.  Ergo, since the first rebellion God has had a Gospel plan to restore righteousness to man.

2. Initial Questions

2a. What is the Gospel plan?



The Gospel is one, which Paul is separated to according to his own words in Romans.1:1.  Paul announces it is the power of God for the salvation of all in Romans 1:16.   The Gospel is the good news that God has provided the means for rebellious humanity to be rescued from His wrath and judgment.

The Gospel is a two-fold message: it is deliverance from the final judgment resulting from God's anger against sin and a crediting of righteousness upon sinful man.  Not only will humanity be saved, but has been saved.This Gospel creates faith (Romans.1:16-17); brings life (Romans.1:16) and judgment (Romans.2:16)



2b. What is wrath?

When we think of wrath, it is usually of an uncontrollable rage or temper tantrum.  God's wrath does not portray the human weaknesses of vindictiveness, or an uncontrolled pique.  We can dismiss such ideas, since due to His forbearance, God's anger and judgment has been smouldering since the first rebellion of Adam and Eve.  God's wrath invokes justice (Romans.2:5).

2c. What is righteousness?

There are three meanings to this key phrase of Paul's: "righteousness of God".  Firstly, righteousness is an immutable characteristic of God, in that whether it is a righteousness that judges or a righteousness that saves, it is still God's righteousness.  Secondly, that His righteousness demands God actively keeps the promises He has made.  Thirdly, that His righteousness makes us righteous. So, who needs this righteousness?

3. God's Judgment

When we describe God's judgment, similarly there are three aspects to it, all of which give a total and clear picture. For God's judgment to only have one or two of these characteristics, would mean it was not the judgment of a holy God. God's judgment is inescapable, righteous and impartial.



3a. Inescapable

We are inherently self-righteously hypercritical of others.  Paul tells us that this makes us hypocritical and we have no right to stand in condemnation over people, as what is common in all humanity is a universal sinfulness or separation from God (Romans.2:1).  We set unachievable high standards for others and yet remarkably low standard for ourselves.



3b. Righteous

God will judge according to what each person has done (Romans.2:6).  While we may be justified and declared righteous by faith, we will be judged based on the works we do, to earn rewards.  Our faith is to be supported by good works (Galatians.5:6; James.2:18).  Paul here shows two destinies.  Eternal life, glory, honour, peace and immortality for those who enduringly desire to perform good works (Romans.2:7,10).  Juxtaposed to this are the self-indulgent and disobedient who shall incur God's indignation, wrath and righteous judgment (Romans.2:8-9).



3c. Impartial

God shows no favouritism (Romans.2:11), so whether Jew or Gentile, both can be saved and be declared righteous.  God is eternally just and righteous.  It is a reflection of His mercy, that nobody can claim God is unfair.

4. All have sinned and need God's righteousness

4a. The Gentile is in need

Gentiles, non-Jews, require this righteousness of God.  Unrighteousness is universally endemic as all humankind has rebelled, "fallen short of God's glory" (Romans.3:23) which has been passed down since the original sin in Genesis.  Whilst God has given the Jew the Law, how has God revealed Himself to the Gentile? He has revealed Himself and His invisible attributes, fully to all humanity through their individual conscience (Romans.1:19) and His creation (Romans.1:20).  In Christ, God has now revealed Himself fully in visible form (Colossians.1:15-17) so that humanity has even less of an excuse not to worship God, follow Him and be obedient to Him.  Whether it is through ignorance they did not glorify Him (Romans.1:21); through foolish wisdom (Romans.1:22) or self-indulgence (Romans.1:25); God allowed man free will and gave them over to their desires (Romans.1:26, 28).  This is viewed in non-heterosexual practices (Romans.1:26-27) being viewed as an abasement and denial of God.    It is noticeable also through idolatrous attitudes and actions.  Humanity began as creations' pinnacle but ended up beneath creation when man started worshipping creation instead of the Creator (Romans.1:23).  Gentiles are without excuse (Romans.1:20) and their actions decree their eternal destiny.  Having suppressed God, God thereby debased man's mind to all kinds of wickedness (Romans.1:28) so that humankinds temporal pleasure may be appeased, and of which, are still in evidence today.



4b. The Jew is in need

Jews had the Law and boasted in it (Romans.2:23).  However, possession of the Law was of no consequence to God and Paul claims it is practicing the Law, which matters.  Their religion was an external action but not an internal attitude.  Jesus' regular denunciation of the Pharisees reflects this.  Adultery, robbery and idolatry (Romans.2:21) were perfectly possible for a Jew to commit secretly according to the Sermon on the Mount.  Instead of being God's light to the nations, Jews were dishonouring God (Romans.2:24; Isaiah.52:5).  Packer in his book "Knowing God" reflects: "The Law cannot save us, for its only effect is to stimulate sin and shows us how far short we fall from God's righteousness."

If not the Law, then surely through circumcision a Jew will be declared righteous!  After all, the circumcision is the mark of God's covenant with Israel (Genesis.17).  Again, Paul says no.  Circumcision avails nothing if the Law is not kept (Romans.2:25).  An uncircumcised Gentile who keeps the law is more acceptable to God than a circumcised Jew who breaks the Law.  A Jew is one who inwardly experiences God, not one who exhibits external worship alone (Romans.2:28-29).

Paul continues. All humanity has rebelled against God, both Jew and Gentile.  Paul cites Old Testament verses to back his claims that all men are unrighteous before God's wrath (Romans.3:10-18).  There are no excuses.  Just like the excuses we come up for when caught speeding in our cars.

5. Salvation for all

5a. Revealed for all who believe by faith

All people are under God's wrath and are therefore condemned. This wrath, Carson writes is brough forth by universal human wickedness".  We are in need both of rescue and to be justified before God.  Paul, continuing with the adversative "But now" (Romans.3:21), explains that God has also provided us with a righteousness that is available immediately so that we may be saved from His wrath.  The Law as we have seen condemns any who do not keep it. Yet combined with the Prophets, the Law bears witness to this righteousness.  How do we achieve this justification?  Faith, succinctly described by JI Packer in "Knowing God", reminds us, "is a self-abandoning trust in the person and work of Jesus."  By exhibiting faith in Jesus, as it is due to him, we have been declared righteous and have a legal status of being justified, if we choose it.  Can we earn it? We have seen how both Gentile and Jew have failed in trying to achieve salvation (Romans.3:23).  Nevertheless, we need to believe in order to receive the righteousness we have asked for.  This grace (Romans.3:24) declares believers "righteous at the beginning of their course, not at the end of it".  This gift, which is free, enables believers to be justified through the act of redemption (Romans.3:24).

5b. God's Wrath Propitiated through Redemption.

Redemption implies ransom.  It is the purchase of a slave, simply to set that slave free.  It involves a ransom payment.  God's grace pays God's justice on our behalf so that righteousness can be declared.  God's grace is the origin of our justification.  This redemption, results from God the Father presenting Jesus Christ as a sacrifice to appease His wrath.   Our redemption involved the death of Jesus as our payment.  God's righteous wrath now averted and appeased through this act of propitiation, means we are therefore liberated as a demonstration of His righteousness (Romans.3:25-26).  All humanity are slaves or prisoners to sin (Romans.3:9), and it is from this slavery the Gospel declares we have been delivered.   The full consequences of this redemption will not be experienced until we have overcome and persevered to gain our eternal inheritance (Romans.8:23-25).



Conclusion


Is there any difference today?  People are still blasé and ignorant of God, having suppressed the truth.  People still declare that the existance of God cannot be proven by rational science and advanced knowledge.  People are still both hypercritical of others and therefore hypocrites.  It is to this world, we are to apply our theology.  This gospel of salvation, which justifies us in order to declare us righteous, thus sparing us from God's condemnatory wrath, is the one we are to use to spread the good news, that God's righteousness is free by faith, to all who humble themselves, admit their guilt and ‘lost-ness' and ask God for forgiveness.



For those who would already call themselves a Christian, you are to tell others about this salvation and you are to serve Him, where ever you are and where ever you go! Jesus is the one you are following and its on His terms alone that you are His disciple.  If you view Him as a superhero, somebody who you call upon only when you need something or even as your boyfriend, then beware: Jesus will not be mocked - He wants all aspects of your life to be submitted to Him!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who defied Hitler, wrote these words "When Jesus Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Jesus Christ, nor is it hero worship, but intimacy with Christ."

Want to be intimate with Jesus Christ? Worship him alone and exhibit your faith to all you come into contact with! Too often Christians and churches side with the rights of the powerful and elite, while forgetting the poor, oppressed and marginalised. Too often Christians and churches neglect to feed the hungry, seek justice for the oppressed and help the poor.

There are enough Christians and churches in the UK to make significant positive change to their local communities. Too often Christians sit around on their backsides discussing good theology while in that same community people die of loneliness & neglect.

You say you have faith in Jesus Christ and are dedicated to Him! Good! Then show it and this community will be transformed to the glory and praise of Jesus Christ! Go tell somebody this good news of Jesus Christ.  Won't you go tell somebody this very day, this week, this message of salvation?  Salvation, as a free gift and available to all who ask, because nobody can earn it or buy it. The price has already been paid - by Jesus Christ alone on a Roman cross two thousand years ago.  If you ever hear people say that I have died, tell them that is false.  Tell them I am now more alive than ever before.



For those who would not yet call themselves Christian, you need to bow your knee before Almighty God. If you want to turn to God there is no need for delay. He is ready and willing to take you as His own right now.  You only have to ask Him to forgive you and to give you help on the journey ahead.  It is a partnership between God and yourself. When you place your faith in Jesus, becoming utterly dependent upon Him, you turn to God.  You don't need to do or change anything to become a follower of Jesus!

However once you have made that decision, you leave behind your spiritual isolation and rebellion against Him. As you live each day, becoming more involved with Jesus day by day, you will find yourself changing. You will stop doing those things that separated you from Him. You will find yourself doing things that please Jesus and develop your relationship with Him.  God asks that you accept his guidance and management of your life.  His point of view and His strength become your point of view and your source of strength.  You turn your mind, will and heart to Him for all you do.

If you want to become a Christian there are three simple steps to follow.  Firstly, admit that you have done wrong against God and His ways.  Secondly, believe and trust in Jesus.  Call on Him, receive, trust, obey and worship Him, recognizing Him for who He is and what He has done.  Lastly, confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.   Once sin has been confessed, and Jesus is believed in and trusted as Saviour, then you are a Christian. Now you are ready as Peter writes in the Bible, "to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 7 Welcome to the family of God. God has chosen you; Jesus has paid for you and has put His mark within you through His Spirit. Come and talk to one of us after our final hymn! Lets pray.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 30: Do good!

v21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.


I am sure you are aware that evil is all around us in this world. It is easy for us to become unenthusiastic and downcast in the face of the stress, pain and atrocity of evil. What is our response to be, says Paul? We are to overcome evil with good. We are to overcome evil by living such good lives of love of God and others, that evil is vanquished.


Evil wants to snatch away your inner joy and dependence upon God. We can overcome and conquer evil by submitting all to God - remembering that our love for God must always be stronger than any other love. That is good overcoming evil!


It is why in what we call the Lord’s Prayer, we pray “Deliver us from evil!” We have three enemies – satan, the world and our old nature. All three evils died a death when Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross and rose again to new life three days later. They just refuse to accept it! Light always overcomes darkness, good always overcomes evil.


When we are tempted to sin, we are to resist. That is one way you conquer evil – by refusing to bow to it’s seductive requests. When our enemies do wrong against us, we are to forgive them. Just as God forgives us. That is good conquering evil. That is light overcoming darkness! Remember that God who lives within you, is greater than anything that would tempt you away from Him. Let His light dispel the darkness and evil which threatens to over come you. Resist in the power of the Holy Spirit and overcome evil with good.


Go! Live such a good life, that nobody can accuse you. Go – let your light shine in darkness! Overcome your enemies with love! Overcome evil with good.


Throughout this chapter Paul has chronicle living a life worthy of loving God. The Christian life is to be active and dynamic – reflecting a God who is also active and dynamic in this world! How so? Because He has people like you and I who are living lives worthy of being called His children! WOW!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 29: Love your enemies

v20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”



Paul continues on the theme of loving enemies! Now he recalls an ancient proverb! The meaning of the proverb is that by doing good to those who wish us harm in some way, that person will become discomfited and humiliated for the wrong he has perpetuated. If our enemy doesn’t repent or relent after doing that, then God’s judgement will be upon them.


Do you have people who are against you? How are you treating them? Do you desire to win them over – loving enemies so that they become friends? Isn’t that also a picture of God? God loves us! Once we were enemies of God but He has done all He can do to get us over to be friends with Him. When Jesus was on the cross, He handed all judgement of those who persecuted him, over to God. It is God’s place and right to execute judgement upon people. It is our place to love our enemies and win them over as friends. We can do it by using the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Pray that God will stimulate your imagination to plan how you may do it and use His power to help you!


As Christians we are to love people into the Kingdom of God. Doing kind deeds to all –those who are actively against us, those who ignore us and treat us with contempt as well as those that love us. As Christians, our job is to love. If those that despise us are hungry, we are to feed them so their hunger is gone. If they are thirsty, we are to offer them something to drink, so their thirst is satiated.


Can imagine what your town would be like if you and your church acted like that towards other people? The Church actively loving the town where they are located. For we are to love – love not just in words but also in action. Pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the minds of the churches as to how you can put love into action. Then you will win enemies over as friends.


Go! Show kindness to those who oppose you and win them over as friends – just as God did for you!



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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 28: Leave it to God


Romans 12:18 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.




How do we react when somebody hurts us or hurts somebody we love? Our natural reaction is to try and find some way to get even with them. This can be done in various ways. It could be by ignoring them – withdrawing away and not having any communication with them directly. Or it could be the spreading of malicious gossip that is a revenge tactic. When in the church hall after a church service people talking to each other “Did you hear what so and so did to me?” Those are forms of revenge.



Remember as Christians, we are to be in harmony with each other and to do all we can to be at peace with each other. We are not to seek revenge on others in any form. We are commanded by Jesus, who is our Lord, to forgive others who have sinned against us. While our inner nature and desire maybe to seek revenge, we are commanded to forgive and restore ourselves to those who have hurt us. If we have bitterness inside us, it eats away at us. It keeps eating away at us until we rid of that bitterness.

Paul here quotes from a book he would have been well familiar with – Deuteronomy 32:35. ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’ Why does Paul do this? Because it is not our place to exact revenge! It is God’s place to avenge! It is God’s place to judge evil and not ours.



Now there may well be times when we need to seek justice against those outside the church in order to seek justice. But this is not to be done out of revenge. As for troubles with those inside the church? We are, you may remember, to do all we can to be at peace with each other and do all we can to be harmonious.



Remember when Jesus was on the cross and people hurled insults at him? Did he retaliate? No – he forgave. That is also what we are to do also. We can do it if we ask for the Holy Spirit to help us.



Go! Be ready to forgive those who have done you wrong!

Go ask for forgiveness if you have done wrong against somebody else.


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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 27: Be a peace-doer


v18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

As part of bringing honour to God Paul now says that followers of Jesus are to do all they can to live at peace with everyone! It isn’t possible to live entirely at peace with everyone! Why do I say that? Evil and evildoers must be opposed, as must be those who are oppose Jesus – very difficult to be at total peace with everybody, particularly those who oppose the work of Jesus and the work of the Church for God’s glory!

Many people endeavour to oppose Jesus and His Church and want to block the work being done by you and I to bring honour and glory to God. And that is the key – the glory and honour of God. As much as we are cajoled to compromise our faith, we are to resist. We can resist in the power of the Holy Spirit within us – resisting temptation to capitulate to sin.

We are to refuse to inflame quarrels. We are to take the initiative towards positive peacemaking with those who are against us. But sometimes people are either uninterested or unwilling to be at peace with us! How do we overcome those people with good – particularly those who insist we compromise our faith and our morals? Ask the Holy Spirit for help and guidance! He will help in the most surprising of ways!

When peace is broken or unattainable, is that because of the other person or is it because of our own action or inaction? If you have done all you can for peace, then your conscience is therefore clear. You can leave it with God and let Him handle the situation. It is by His grace and His grace alone that the most difficult of tasks can be overcome.

Within the Church itself however, there is always to be peace between the Christians. Part of being at peace with others is encouragement and edification of others and of self. There is to be no quarrelling accusations, prejudice and judgmentalism with the church as we have seen previously in these studies. For sure, people are to be allowed their opinions – otherwise the Church will be operating as a brainwashing Cult and not a Jesus-centred, God-glorifying Church.

Go! Be a peacemaker and as far as you can, be at peace with others – inside the Church and outside it.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 26: Be honourable

v17 Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable.


As we saw in our last study, we are not to pay back evil with yet more evil. We are to retaliate against others with love to those who would wish us harm. We are to behave in such a way that we are above and beyond reproach – that is being criticized for our behaviour! That is what Paul means by honourable here. We are to refrain from doing what is evil and wrong but we are also to do what is right.


As Christians we are to act in such a way the people will ask the reason why we are so different. They will ask why you do what you do – particularly if you do the things that Paul has been talking about in this chapter! You will be seen to be living a life of honour which reflects your relationship with God. As you do this you show to others that you are a Christian – a child of God – who is in an exciting and dynamic relationship with God. People will ask why are you so different from us – giving you honour! But not only that, even if they are atheist or agnostic, they will be giving honour to God because you are His child.


Can you imagine if more people took seriously what Paul is writing here in Romans 12? The world would be turned upside down and a revolution would be in evidence! Not a revolution borne from violence but a revolution of loving God and loving others! That is what the Church is supposed to be like – harmonious communities of Christians proclaiming that they love God and showing that they do that by loving other people. Christians doing things which bring praise and honour to God and people outside the Church remarking how honourable they are! Imagine!


Can it be done? Yes! If we as Christians asked the Holy Spirit to help us as He empowers us!


Go! Live your life in such a way, that you are seen as honourable and therefore the God you claim to love is also honoured. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you – He will help if you ask!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 25:

v17 Never pay back evil with more evil.

I wonder if you have ever been hurt by somebody else. I know that I have. I also know that not only have I been the victim, I have also been the one to inflict and hurt others. So how are we to respond to those who would wish us harm? After all, we are commanded to love those people.

Paul here commands that we don’t pay back evil for evil. That will just perpetuates a circle of evil in our life and prove to be a distraction from living a life that is honouring to God – living a life of worship and devotion to Him.

What does this mean in practise? We know we are to love our enemies. Jesus taught it and Paul also. We are to do good to everyone, including those who are against us. We are to actively bless our enemies and repay that way! WOW! That goes against our culture, which usually dictates either at best to ignore or at worst to retaliate!

Our natural reaction, if we are honest, is to retaliate against others. Either with evil against the perpetrator or by simply just ignoring them. But that is not what Paul suggests! We are to desire to win them over for the glory of God! WOW! Let us as members of His Church retaliate that way. We are to show mercy and forgiveness to those who would harm and hurt us in anyway - – physically, spiritually, emotionally or mentally. After all, God has done that to us through Jesus Christ despite all we have done against Him! If He can do it, so can we!

Remember, as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living within us! How easily we forget to ask Him to help us do things what humanly speaking seems impossible – including repaying evil with good. People maybe able to harm our bodies but they can never harm us spiritually. Sometimes those within the Church, including the Church we regularly attend, seek to harm us in some way. Let us win them over too – for the sake and glory of God! We also need to seek forgiveness of those we have done wrong as well as forgiving those who have wronged us? Again, this is possible when done using the power of the Holy Spirit.

Go! Do good to all, bless them, forgive them if necessary – including those who would seek you harm.

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 24: Humility of mind and spirit

v16 - Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!

Here are two of the main reasons that churches lack harmony – pride and know-it-alls!! Do you think that may describe somebody that you know? Or even yourself?

There is to be no place in the Gospel, and therefore the Church itself, for pride and conceit. There is to be no favouritism within the life of the Church. Love does not show favouritism or partiality but love treats all people equally. The best person for the job, is the best person for the job – not the one shown favouritism. That isn’t to say we can’t have some people as friends and others not! But we are not to make differences between people based on things such as bank balances, social status, education, birthplace etc. Let not the educated look down upon the uneducated. Let not the financially rich not look down on the poor & homeless. Let males not look down upon females or females look down on males.

Structure within Churches is important or there would be chaos. Remember a Church is to be harmonious – and those of higher importance in Church structures are to associate & work with those of the least importance in Church structures. Why?

Because of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, being the Son of God, made Himself nothing in order to become a human being. Jesus, the Lord of the Church, was willing to do everything possible, so that you and I may be able to become children of God. Jesus Christ, and therefore God Himself, treats equally all sections of society, and so must those who claim to follow Him.

And we all know somebody who is a know-it-all – they have an answer to every question and like to let everybody know that they do! Now it is good to be wise in the ways of God but let not that lead to pride! Such a person is hard to teach – hard even to God. Wisdom comes from studying God’s word, being willing to be changed by the Spirit who lives within all believers without distinction. The so-called uneducated are usually more willing to be wise from this method than the educated.

Go! Be practical in your love of God to all people without partiality or distinction. And don’t think you know it all – coz you don’t!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 23: Be Harmonious

v16 Live in harmony with each other.

I can hear you saying to yourself “Yeah right, Paul! Get a life, mate! Me? Live in harmony with that person over there? No way!”

Yet to live in harmony with each other is to be our goal says Paul. If we were loving God and loving others as we ought, in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within ALL believers in the church community – then believers should be able live in harmony with each other!

As we have seen earlier, any group of believers in one location has spiritual gifts! No gift is more important than the other, yet I know from experience, that some Spiritual Gifts are lifted up more than others! The local church with its people is akin to a human body. Can a foot say it is more important than the brain? No! The brain controls the foot! Can the brain say it is more important then the heart? No! The heart pumps the blood which keeps the brain alive! Can the heart say it is more important than the foot? No! Because without exercise, the heart grows weak! That is what it is like in the church – local, national and worldwide!

To live in harmony is to live in agreement with each other! We are united with other Christians whether want to be or not! We all have the one Spirit living within us. There was only one Cross, therefore there can only be one Kingdom and church. There is only one God, therefore there could only be one people and one church known by its unity. Jesus Christ is the one Great Shepherd and there is only one flock, when referring to Himself and his followers the church (John 10:16).

Unity however does not mean uniformity. With the proviso that core beliefs are maintained, there appears to be room for some digression regarding secondary beliefs (Paul alludes to that in Romans 14:1–15:13). Individual churches have different local needs to be faced, and have therefore dissimilar requirements. Tomorrow we will see one of the main reasons churches don’t have harmony! But for now, go! Do all you can to be harmonious with others and show Church unity to the world!

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Romans 12: Living Life

Study 22: Rejoice and sorrow

v15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

I wonder if some times you are like me –you are sad when people you know have reason to be happy! We are like that as people! Jesus in Luke 15:25-30 indicates that this behaviour comes from envy! Or you are happy when people have reason to be sad or in trouble – your attitude is “They deserve it!” This is nothing short of malice. And unsurprisingly, it can come quite naturally to us! Paul here challenges the Roman readers and by proxy, us, with something totally alien to our natural way of behaving! Paul goes “be happy to the happy and weep with the weeping!”

That is a counter to the way the world we live in operates. Sure some people who are not Christian may do it Paul’s way but in general they don’t. But that is not the way it is to be with the Church! We are to love others as we would want to be loved. Love is not detached or ignorant of other people’s joys and sorrows. Love does not simply ignore or bear malice. Love lifts, encourages, embraces and emboldens! Love in action is offering a shoulder to cry on to somebody in need of help. Love in action is rejoicing with that brother or sister who has cause for celebration. Love offers solidarity with the other person, regardless of mood or emotion.

So how can we show this love to others? We maybe able to do it in our own strength, but we assuredly can by using the power of the Holy Spirit! Oh how easily we forget He is living within us! WOW! If we ask for His help, He will help – often in the most amazing ways. Let the Holy Spirit stimulate your imagination as to how you can practically rejoice and be happy with those who are rejoicing or to show you how you can weep with those who are weeping and in sorrow. And if we have reason to rejoice, let us not forget to be so overcome that we neglect to weep with those who are weeping. Or conversely, if we have good reason to be weeping, let us now forget to somehow rejoice with that brother or sister who has reason to be happy!

Go! Let your love for others be practically seen – whether with smiles or with tears!

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