Patience? Whose?

Vol. 3, No. 21 – May 27, 2018

Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads to repentance? Romans 2:4

Romans 2 is a chapter that speaks of a crisis of character.

The greatest threat before us is no longer a Russian invasion or a nuclear holocaust. Neither should our greatest concern be a stock market crash, or even the erosion of the ozone layer. The greatest challenge before us is not an external threat but an internal one; a crisis of character. We are now a nation where the values that restrain inner vices and develop inner virtues are eroding. Unprincipled men and women, disdainful of their moral heritage and skeptical of truth itself. Are destroying our civilization by weakening the very pillars upon which it rests. –Charles (Chuck) Colson

Chapter 2 opens up with these words: Therefore you are without excuse, every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself for you who judge practice the same things.

It is akin to this: Well, you may be saying, “what terrible people you have been talking about!” But just wait a minute! You and I are just as bad. When we say they are wicked and should be punished, we are talking about ourselves as well. We are guilty of many of the same things. We read the writings of the 21 outcroppings of sin (1:29-32), and we cannot escape the fact that we are guilty of at least one or two of them; perhaps more if we are honest. But to be abandoned, that seems a stretch.

Have I been abandoned by a Holy God? No way! I have a threefold special favor that leads me to repentance (the COMPLETE turn-around).

The wealth of His goodness is generous. We can never out-love Him. There is this common grace of God that brings blessings to unregenerate mankind that allows them to live in peace, to amass fortunes, to live in health as a product of the goodness of God. God does release a lavish gentleness.

There is the wealth of His toleration (God’s toleration is not like ours). God holds back; most of our Bible versions use the term forbearance. It is not gone for the unbeliever, just delayed for the time being. Overlooked; passed over for a time. It is as though the Lord lifts in His one hand the thunderbolt of His wrath against unregenerate people of the earth, and then with the other hand restrains Himself from the punishment that is merited by people of the earth.

This is the sumptuous restraint of Almighty God; God’s reckless unrestrained love for those He created!

There is the wealth of His loooong suffering. The idea of slowness in avenging wrongs is foreign in our thinking. However, remember the children of Israel in their famous march for a week around the city of Jericho? They did it in absolute silence, which was well-calculated to impress upon the inhabitants the lesson of the long sufferings of God. It was a teachable moment on the liberal patience of God.

Think back in your own life, upon your life style, upon your desires, and upon God’s activity in your life. What do you see; what do you remember? How great is loves worth?

All we like sheep have gone astray
Each of us has turned to his own way.
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
to fall on Him (Isaiah 53:6)

All means all, and that is all all means!

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

God Gave Them Up . . . ?

Vol. 3, No. 20 – May 20, 2018

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper. Romans 1:24, 26, 28

I was invited to Colorado to a pastor’s conference – the scenes were awesome to me. I could not believe the color and the change in geography! There were mountains, red and brown rock formations rising from the floor, Pike’s Peak, the Garden of the Gods, grassland to forest, and Glen Eyrie where I stayed in a cabin (the black eagles and the deer were plentiful, along with a herd of mountain sheep). However, in the mountain area it was sparsely populated.

You might ask why. Nothing is cared for. In fact, in one area that looks from a distance as a great invitation for to settle, people are leaving. It is a gorgeous mountain retreat; but in the middle of the housing plots rests a sewage treatment plant that is overpowering.

It is a putrid picture is it not? A stench in the midst of incredible beauty!

In this portion of the Book of Romans there is a stage set for the remainder of the book. It is bad news for the reader until the good news is released. There is the dirty story of men and women before the clean response of God’s grace. You see, God’s Word provides the biblical diagnoses of our heart problem. Our heart problem, and we all have them, is our own personal sewer system.
Read it for yourself.

You may not like what it says, but God’s truth is “never changing.” Instead of looking to God, men and women have looked into the darkness of their hearts to arrive at a philosophy that brought their evil hearts to bear upon society and the culture. What people vote for may change laws, but it never changes truth. What is lawful is not always just; what is just is not always made lawful in the economy of the people of the earth.

The people of the earth mostly live in a self-centered kingdom instead of a God-centered kingdom. Three times the Apostle Paul uses the expression: “God handed them over.” What He does is abandon them to their own lusts, let them go, and He permits the people of the earth to have and do what they desire. That gave license for mankind to delve into their own darkness practicing every sort of sexual sin, every kind of vile and sinful thing with each other.

God gave them up to degrading (vile) passions. (1:26)

That refers to the heart; moral perversion that is blatant and aggressive. In our own country, the United States of America, those who have abandoned themselves to fearful vices and all sorts of perversion have banded together and are demanding public recognition for their perverted lifestyle.

The very foundations of our society have rotted as the practices of perversion are officially countenanced.

God gave them over to a depraved mind. (1:28)

It is the mind which leaves God out of consideration; the mind fogs and its function disqualifies itself from reflecting the character of God.

The body, soul, and spirit become anti-God. The reaction of God is a response to include action toward the self-philosophy of mankind. He does something that might seem subtle, but it is appalling to the participants of perversion. He gives those the absolute right to choose their own course of action, and gives them the perfect freedom to live with the outcomes and consequences of their choices. –D. Stuart Briscoe

Christians and Christian Leaders must stay focused on God’s Word, for it is the foundation for building our character that God wants; it is a character that God promotes in the thought: “You can be more like Me, if you so choose!”

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Vol. 3, No. 19 – May 13, 2018

The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:17

Words mean different things to different people. “Ball” is associated with a beautiful dress and an evening dance to a debutante; a ball means to the athlete something to throw, kick, or catch. To the business executive, being “on the ball” is an indication of competence and knowledgeable acumen.

The word can also appear in conversation when you have a conversation with a person whose ideas are off; they would be referred to as a “screw ball.” And then when the night is almost perfectly clear, the moon hangs in the sky like “a ball of green cheese.” My guess is that you have other illustrations.
The biblical word “just” means different things to different people as well (but to God it is specific in meaning).

One of the difficult teachings of the Scripture surrounds the explanation of justification, justify, justice, and just. God intends it to mean more than being upright, equitable, conforming to a standard, or even well-adjusted.

Theological stumblebums want it to mean what they want it to mean; and their position is, do not tinker with what they say it means.

The fact: It is for the man who is in a right relationship with God, not because of the works of his hands, but because of his utter faith in what the love of God has done – that is where the meaning and application of “just” falls. When the believer appears in eternity’s courtroom and hears the verdict of guilty, Christ steps forward to speak on their behalf. “No, not guilty,” redeemed through His atonement. The believer, by name, is pronounced cleansed, just-as-if-they-had-never-sinned! Justified. Not because of what they have done, but totally on the basis of what God has done for them. That is how His grace and mercy work!

That is the underpinning and the launching pad for the entire book of Romans.

The just shall live by faith; six monosyllables that sum up the Cristian doctrine. It is for every human that has chosen to follow Christ, receiving salvation offered by Him. It is accepting the grace that came down from heaven through a willing Savior, God’s Son Jesus Christ, offered to those who would believe and live in this broken world. It, salvation and justification, is available for every person of the earth; sadly and tragically, not every person of the earth will accept God’s offer.

The truth offered is really a text for the world;  the new world’s text and the preacher’s text, the layperson’s text and the text for the Jews and the Greeks (Gentiles). It is the truth for Europeans, Asians, and Africans – well for everyone!

The text is true currently, but not exclusive for us. Over 2600 years ago, in a time that should have withered the stoutest heart, God’s servant placed a truth – I can see it in my mind’s eye, maybe on a billboard in downtown Babylon (Iraq) – it reads, “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). God’s Word does not disappear; the message is unchanging, appearing at least three times in the New Testament.

In Romans 1:17 the we read the truth again; the just shall live by faith. In the Galatian church under pressure, it is clear that the truth is once again present,  the just shall live by faith (Galatians 3:11). Then in the Book of Hebrews, there it is again, re-echoed for the reader, the just shall live by faith (Hebrews 10:38).

How many times does God have to say it?

These six words have started revolutions, revivals, and reformations. These six words have changed lives in families, churches, and even nations. The Jews reworked God’s Ten Commandments to turn them into 613 laws reflective of the number of Hebrew letters used in the Ten Commandments.

Sometimes religionists expand what God has said attempting to help Him out. It then gets confusing.
In Psalm fifteen, David brings them back to eleven; Isaiah reduces them to six, and Micah reduces them to three. And then whoa, Paul brings the words down into one dynamic, fantastic idiom: The just shall live by faith.

Six things about justification: God thought it; Christ bought it; the Holy Spirit wrought it; the Bible teaches it; faith seeks it; and Satan fights it.

And the absolute truth is that when you are justified, the position never ever changes because it depends upon God, and God is absolutely dependable.

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