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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Romans by the Book (Lesson 59)


Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4


Romans by the Book                                                                        Lesson 59


Welcome to HBS.  Thank you for taking the time to study your Bible along with us.
For the benefit of our new visitors and as a refresher for those who have been with us since the onset, I thought I would begin today’s lesson by quickly going over some of our apostle Paul’s teaching points.

In chapters 1-4, Paul described how every person is a sinner before God from the morally depraved pagan to those trying to climb the religious ladder to heaven; and of their need for righteousness and justification.  He wrote how God provided for these through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for both the Jew and the Gentile. 

In chapter 5, Paul speaks to those who have been justified by faith (plus nothing else) and now have peace with God.  Chapter 5 (verses 1-11) is a description of the benefits of justification by faith.  Chapter 5 (verses 12-21) is an explanation of the foundation of justification and sanctification. 

In chapter 6, Paul offers a compelling explanation of the need for a change in the Believers’ lifestyle due to the fact that we are dead to sin, and alive to Christ Jesus.  Therefore, in light of this truth, we are to “put to death” those sinful activities we’re enslaved to and walk “in newness of life.” 

In Chapter 7, Paul reveals the conflict of the two natures which makes it impossible for us to live the righteous life we want to live; our flesh is hopelessly lost.  But God has provided the remedy for this condition:  just as Jesus Christ is the only answer to salvation similarly Jesus Christ is the only answer for sanctification. 

Please be aware I have parked all of the previous lessons beginning at Romans, chapter 1 in the archives on this site and they are available for your viewing.

Now, if you’re ready I’m prepared to teach, so please open your Bible to Romans, chapter 8. We’ll drop in at verse 19. 

Romans 8

19: For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the (what) revealing of the sons (and daughters) of God.

Verse 19 contradicts man’s philosophy and his scientific approach (through pure imagination) as to why things are.  Evolution for example is no longer a theory but a fact , actually it’s both according to the scientific community, and this belief is being taught in schools and colleges across this great land while creationism along with the Creator is ridiculed and banned (2 Peter 3:3-4). 

But God, through Scripture, has revealed how things came to be, and when, and what they will ultimately be.  However, the majority of humanity has chosen to be ignorant of these things through their exercise of free will. 

In verse 19, God is telling us all creation is eagerly waiting and by this He means the creatures in the air, in the sea, those moving on the ground, and even the inanimate objects (Luke 19:39-40).  What is all creation, even the angels of heaven, eagerly waiting in anticipation of - the revealing of the sons (and daughters) of God.  The day of our great and glorious “manifestation” is coming.

The Greek word for “revealing” is:  apokalupsis (pronounced:  ap-ok-al’oop-sis) and means – a laying bear, a disclosure of truth – instruction concerning things before unknown used of events by which things or states or persons till then withdrawn from view are made visible to all manifestation, appearance.

Picture a well-known artist who after many years has completed his sculpture and scheduled an unveiling.  Of course his artwork remains covered and away from public scrutiny until the event.  Meanwhile, the art world and the public wait in eager anticipation to examine the artist’s work.  Likewise, the children of God are veiled at this time.  We’re wrapped in our sinful flesh, and we look just like everyone else.  But true Believers are the children of God.  We have already received “the spirit of adoption.”  However, our adoption has not yet been fulfilled.  The day is coming and all creation is waiting with eager anticipation “our revealing” (manifestation) on the Day of Redemption.

Romans 8

20: For the creation was subjected to futility (or vanity), not willingly, but because of Him (the LORD God) who subjected it, in hope.

The word creation in verse 20 refers to this earth.  Scripture confirms this in Colossians 1:23. Paul speaks of the gospel being preached, “…in all creation under heaven.”  
         
Paul tells us in verse 20 the LORD God placed a curse on the earth, and not on the man Adam.  In so doing, He subjected the entire planet earth to “futility” i.e. uselessness (Genesis 3:17-19).  We find a similar word and instruction in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 1

2: “Vanity of vanities,” says the preacher, “Vanity of vanities!  All is vanity.”

3: What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun (or on the earth).

These are the words of Solomon, the son of David, King of Jerusalem.
Now the word “vanity” as used in this context does not mean self-admiration (ego). 
It means useless.  The same meaning is applied to the word “futility” in Romans 8:20.

The man must eat to survive so he rises and works the land from sunup until sundown knowing that tomorrow is going to be identical to today, as was the day before, exclusive of illness, injury, or death; in that the chores must be done in their proper sequence.  After the father dies, these things are passed on to his son.  Generations come; generations go.   
What advantage does man have in all his work…? 

Now let’s update that picture.  I’m not sure of the expression they’re using today but I referred to it as “The Rat Race.”  It’s all about acquiring the money.  This term describes a frustrating, hard-to-break financial lifestyle.  It involves subjecting one’s self to a time-consuming job, saddling one’s self with a mortgage or rent, multiple monthly bills, children, and all that implies, and other liabilities, such as putting food on the table, which forces the individual(s) to continue to work at the same job (most likely) with the delusion that working at this job will somehow better my situation and my family’s. 

Many people believe there’s an off ramp from “The Rat Race.  These folks attempt to alleviate the stress of financial hardship by working harder, working longer, or for higher wages, but those who subject themselves voluntarily to The Rat Race just wind up digging for themselves the same financial hole, and around and around we go. 

King Solomon asks, “What advantage does man have in all his work?”  
The answer is much, which we’ll discover in just a bit. 

In your Bible and mine Genesis 3:17 reads, “Cursed is the ground because of you…” or “on account of” you which is attempting to show that the ground’s curse was the direct result of the man’s sin.  Several Bible scholars believe this three-word phrase is poorly translated and should be rendered “for man’s sake” instead.  Here’s why.

God who knows the beginning, the middle, and the end of history had the end picture in mind even as He uttered this curse.  The ground would be cursed, for man’s benefit or his good.  The curse, in the end, would benefit all mankind, although initially it would bring about hardship, suffering, toil, and loss.

This isn’t the way the LORD God wanted it.    If you know the Genesis account, then you know the man was put in the Garden of Eden to “cultivate and keep it” (Genesis 2:15); he was given “dominion” over all the earth and the animal life; this was a blessing and not a hardship.  Since the garden watered itself (there was no rain), and the man didn’t have to deal with the negatives such as:  heat, pests, weeds, wild animals, etc, I imagine the labor was pleasurable, rewarding, and probably not too demanding.  You see the earth worked with the man in perfect harmony to produce his food; and the man needed food to survive.  Food production was one of the primary purposes of the garden (Genesis 2:9).

After the curse was pronounced, the earth from which the man and the woman acquired their food became most uncooperative.  Instead of the earth and the man working in harmony together, now the situation became man versus nature.  Adam would have to use his intellect and all his strength to discipline the earth.

The earth was capable of supporting Adam, Eve, and their offspring but only after Adam forced it to yield its bounty through hard labor in:  plowing, planting, fertilizing, watering, weeding, cultivating, and harvesting.  I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the insects, and animals such as deer and wolves which infiltrated and destroyed his crops, herds, and possessions.  Wild animals were even capable of stealing a life on occasion. 

In addition to all this, Adam would have to deal with the forces of nature:  earthquakes, erosion, landslides, volcanoes, wildfires, unproductiveness and various storms. 
The weather could either be his friend or his enemy.  Too much rain or too little rain affected his crops in the ground.  Thunderstorms brought hail and tornadoes. 
Entire villages, not just crops, could be wiped out by nature and disease.

If you’ve spent any time at all working outdoors in the Florida heat and humidity, then you can appreciate the fact that the sun can be merciless.  Coming from the north, I’m aware that the sun can withhold its heat for months on end.  Adam probably dealt with both these issues.  It was either feast or famine, but it was always hard labor and sacrifice, day after day, due to the curse.

This is what Adam and Eve and their descendants dealt with after the LORD God drove them from the Garden of Eden.  Without a doubt it affected their food supply, but primarily it affected their survival.  Remember, the LORD God said they would die.

In other words, the ground wasn’t going to just give up the food as before; now Adam had to “strive” for it.  Consequently, God’s curse impacts everything mankind attempts to achieve.  If you’re earning a weekly paycheck, saving for your child’s college fund, or keeping the weeds out of your beautiful flowerbed then you’ve experienced the effects of this curse.  Who hasn’t pricked their finger on a rosebush or been stung by a bee?
 
One aspect of this curse that I believe most people overlook is from the very moment the LORD God pronounced the curse on the ground this planet began to die.  Why? 
Sin tainted God’s perfect world (2 Peter 3:10-14). 

Everyone has read about or experienced in some way the effects of our dying planet. 
Who hasn’t heard about the disappearing arctic ice caps, the polluted ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, seas, and oceans and the acid rain?  We’re buying bottled water and acting as if this is normal! 

Irresponsible farming practices have put America’s land and water at risk.  In some regions, Iowa for example, soil loss was found to be 12 times greater than the stated average, as storms stripped up to 64 tons of soil per acre of land.  The Dust Bowl or the Dirty Thirties weren’t so long ago that the people of my generation have forgotten the major ecological and agricultural affects to American farmlands.

Modern farming practices permit pesticides, fertilizers, and manure to run into our water resources, which renders the water undrinkable, our beaches unfit to swim in, and has created an area in the Gulf of Mexico so contaminated that aquatic life has to flee or die – this area is known as “the dead zone.” 

As I write this, one of the largest Red Tide blooms in history is slowly making its way towards the West coast of Florida and will soon impact the shoreline and beaches for miles.  Numerous fish kills have already been reported. 

Our planet’s death throe was subtle at first but over time the pace has quickened, but it all started when God cursed the ground, “for man’s sake.”

From Flavius Josephus’s “Antiquities of The Jews,” we find:  “…the ground should not henceforth yield its fruits of its own accord, but that when it should be harassed by their labour, it should bring forth some of its fruits, and refuse to bring forth some of its others.”

How can such a curse be “for man’s sake?”
Please turn to Romans, chapter 8. 

Romans 8

20: For the creation was subjected to futility (this word has been translated as:  vanity, emptiness, uselessness, things without purpose, and folly), not willingly, but because of Him (the LORD God) who subjected it, in hope.

The apostle says here that God pronounced the curse on the creation, "in hope."  
That is to say, He did not intend to leave the ground or His animal creation under the curse forever.  He did this only for a time and for a purpose.  Verse 21 tells us why.

Romans 8

21: that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

The ground and God’s animal creation was placed in the slavery of corruption when the man sinned but it is to be delivered from this state into the glorious freedom of the children of God, after we are glorified (adopted) on the Day of Redemption.

You’ve probably seen a lion chasing down its prey, or a pack of wolves circling a helpless animal while viewing the History Channel or some other program.  Animals live in fear.  Men live in fear.  The United Nations strives to achieve peace with men and nations all over the world while Scripture teaches that this is “vanity.”

This is the way things are now because of the curse.  But one day creation will be at peace as it was before man’s fall from grace.  Scripture gives us good idea as to how this will look (Isaiah 11:6-9).

So, “What advantage does man have in all his work?”  My reply was much!
 
When the LORD God said, “Cursed is the ground for man’s sake” He is saying the introduction of death into the world will be the means of their salvation.  It is for man’s benefit that death was introduced so that Jesus Christ could, in time, take death upon His own body thereby relieving the creation of this curse.  (Romans 5:12-21; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 3:13)
 

(To be continued)


© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Romans by the Book (Lesson 58)



Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4


Romans by the Book                                                                        Lesson 58


We’ve been studying the book of Romans attentively for some time now and we’ve eased the pace a tad more while we explore the “treasure” that is Romans chapter 8.
 
Most recently we studied the role of the Holy Spirit in the Age of Grace and now here we are in the middle of the chapter and the truth concerning the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the Believer just keeps unfolding.  The more you examine this topic the more you see.  It can be a bit overwhelming trying to absorb all this information all at once, which is one of the reasons we’re taking our time and we’re doing this verse by verse.

In the previous lesson, one of the things we learned is that the Holy Spirit was gifted to us as a guarantee of our inheritance.  He is a “down payment” of our eternal glory.

You may be wondering what our inheritance will be. 
You may be asking what’s eternal glory.

To be quick, our inheritance, suffice to say, means we’re going to inherit everything God our Father possesses and God owns everything in this universe and beyond… 
In addition, we’re going to be made like His Son, and we will rule and reign with Him throughout eternity (Ephesians 2:6; 2 Timothy 2:12).  This is what He has promised us (and more) and God the Father “sealed” the deal by giving the Holy Spirit to each one of us Believers as a “down payment;” a guarantee of our inheritance.

Eternal glory is your destiny if you’re a true Believer.  You see, God is setting up His eternal kingdom at this time (John 14:1-4), and He uses suffering, trials, and testing in the lives of true Believers to work our glory.  Our trials are the way to glory.  They are the very “hand” of God preparing us, and molding us into the likeness of His Son. 
Therefore, suffering is your destiny as well.  But God rewards those who persevere.

True Believers will be eternally rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ for their faithfulness and their willingness to use their spiritual gifts voluntarily  (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:11-12).  This is the primary subject of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. 
(2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Romans 14:10-12) 

It is also significant that among the final words of Revelation, we find these words of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Revelation 22

12: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My (what) reward is with me, to render to every
man according to what he has done.

God gives us salvation as a free gift, through faith.  But He rewards us for “good works.”  God supplies the resources by which we may serve Him and others but the decision to employ those resources is ours.  When we choose to “labor for the Lord,” this is voluntary and becomes our responsibility so He rewards us.  (1 Corinthians 15:10; Colossians 1:29)

There are 5 Crowns (rewards) mentioned in Scripture but they are described in general terms.  There isn’t anything specific, in other words.  What we do have is this:

The promise of Crowns:  may be a symbol of victory, authority, and responsibility

The promise of heavenly treasure:  (Matthew 6:20; 1 Peter1:4) – stresses their eternal value and security

The promise of accolades or commendations:  this is seen in those passages where a reward is administered in the form of something like, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21; 1 Corinthians 4:5b)

The promise to overcomers:  this crown could refer to rewards for those Believers who persevered through suffering, tests, trials, temptations, and death.

The promise of special responsibilities and authority of the Lord’s possessions:  (Matthew 19:28, 24:45-47; 25:21, 23)

Now before some of you get the “big head,” our rewards may be likened to our spiritual gifts and then maybe our opportunities.   But we will not wear them like badges of honor!  Scripture says all our crowns will be cast at the feet of Jesus Christ – for only He is worthy (Revelation 4:10-11).  Some of us may be given authority over many things or cities, which could include galaxies in this universe or another afar off.
(Matthew 25:21, 23, and Luke 19:17-19).  
  
I say “some” because Scripture says there will be a loss of rewards.   
Evidently, not everyone will reign with the Lord.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “There are no Crown-Wearers in heaven who were not Cross-Bearers here below” - food for thought.

Let’s review the Bible passages we are concerned with today:

Romans 8

17: and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed (since) we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Electricity and water for the most part choose a path of least resistance.  This is natural.
And if given an option we prefer a life of comfort and ease?  This too is natural.
Who wants stress?  Who needs difficulties; and suffering – no thank you, right?

Now no one likes to deal with suffering.  But it’s a fact that every true Believer will encounter a certain amount of it in their life time.   According to verse 17 above, suffering is a required component of a Believer’s preparation for glory. 

However, these verses are not talking about any and all types of suffering for everyone suffers here on earth even non-believers.  Paul is speaking of the suffering we Believers endure for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:29).

Please turn to the book of Matthew, at chapter 16.  I want you to consider Jesus’ story – the Man of sorrows.

Matthew 16

24: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus told His disciples that He was going up to Jerusalem where all things written through the prophets about the Son of Man would be accomplished (Luke 18:31-34); this included His “suffering.”  But even as He went to the cross, the twelve were in a state of disarray and did not anticipate this event.  Jesus had been preparing them for what was to come after His departure (John 15, 16).   Jesus told them the world would hate them, and they too would suffer, as He suffered.
 
To highlight the fact that they did not understand His words, one day, James and John came up to Jesus requesting that He grant them seats, one at His right hand, and one at His left hand in glory.  The Apostle Mark gives us Jesus reply:

Mark 10

38: But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink (Matthew 26:39), or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

Both James and John couldn’t see it.  They lacked understanding. 
If they could have seen ahead to “the cup” Jesus spoke of in the garden and in reference to His suffering and death, they would have back off this request. 

The message in this verse is simply this:  the greater glory in eternity is related to our suffering in this life. (John 17:1)

Our coming glory is not connected to rank or privilege, which is what James and John had in mind.  It is directly connected to our “suffering” on earth; the greater the suffering, the greater our glory, if we persevere.

By suffering Scripture does not mean physical suffering, essentially.  The book isn’t talking about our physical problems or occasional illnesses.  It’s not referencing our bad marriages, our rude children, and the boss at work who doesn’t treat you well. 

It’s referring to all manner of suffering for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Now I need to break this down a bit further because I don’t mean to imply that only preachers and teachers meet the criteria or that you need to be actively spreading the gospel, and suffering while doing so, for this to pertain to you. 

You see just by being a true Believer, and living a Believer’s lifestyle (walking with the Lord Jesus Christ) you are going to attract negative attention.  For instance:  have you tried to pray in a public building recently, or tried to read Scripture out loud in a school or at work?  If you tried, I bet you attracted some negative attention. 
 
Some of this pessimism comes from within your own family.  I know parents who have been alienated from their children for their beliefs and for standing up for God’s Word.

You may be at odds with some of your friends that you’ve known for many years because of your faith.  It happened to me.  A good friend of mine, of 15 years, disappeared from my life after I became a man of faith. 

Some of you may have experienced “suffering” in the workplace.  Believe it or not, it’s possible to experience “suffering” for the gospel of Jesus Christ in the church. 

Scripture clearly teaches us that affliction is a necessary part of our preparation for our coming glory and the measure of our glory is directly related to the degree of our suffering. 

Please turn to 2 Timothy, chapter 2.

2 Timothy 2

11: It is a trustworthy statement:  For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

12: If we endure, we will also reign with Him;

Our walk with Jesus, in this life, will include suffering.  This is what Paul meant by “endure.”  Paul wasn’t speaking about enduring a life of comfort and ease.  Paul was sharing with us what living the life of a Believer would bring to our doorstep.  Paul knew what he was preaching about – he lived it.

While we’re here in the book of 2 Timothy, flip over to chapter 3.
 
I’d like to draw your attention to the Apostle Paul at this time; a man who suffered greatly for the gospel, but God said he would (Acts 9:15-16).  However, this didn’t deter him in the least.  In fact, it was in the midst of his trials and his sufferings that Paul did his best work.  The books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon were written by Paul during his 1st imprisonment in Rome for example. 

When Paul wrote this letter to his protégé Timothy, he knew his days were numbered; before his time was up he had to pass the torch to his brother in Christ Jesus, Timothy.   
Paul wrote this letter in part to let him know that all those who live for the Lord will suffer.  But Paul didn’t want him to see this as a negative and therefore neither should we.   
It’s a positive.  It’s in preparation for our glory. 

2 Timothy 3

10: Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,

11: persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me
(2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

12: Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Now you may not lose your life, but since you’ve chosen to live a godly life there is bound to be some level of alienation from your family, your friends, your co-workers, society, and so on it goes.             

You see, you’re 180 degrees out from the way the world thinks and acts.  You’re in conflict with them and their ideals so don’t be surprised when they turn up the heat.

We need to adopt the same attitude as our apostle Paul and look at our sufferings for Christ Jesus as both necessary and our path to glory.  In other words, the more you practice being faithful here, the more you pursue godliness here, the greater your eternal glory, when Jesus comes. 

Philippians 1

6: For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until (when) the day of Christ Jesus.

So you have a few troubles in this life.  You're misunderstood.  Your children think you’re weird?  You're hassled at home and at work because of your faith. 

When you open your mouth to speak you're criticized or mocked – so was Jesus.
You can’t catch a break.  You're rejected.  You're alienated – so was Jesus.
As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus…” 

Hebrews 2

7: YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS;
YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;

8: YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”

Jesus Christ is the Firstfruits of the resurrection to come.
Jesus Christ is the forerunner, God who became man, lower than the angels for a time, He became the first to be exalted to glory and life eternal.

Paul said:  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

These trials are testing your faith and that’s natural.  But you pass the test by persevering – you press on towards the goal and your destiny. 
 
When you suffer rejection, or worse, for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ you give God the glory, and you keep moving forward.  As Paul said, “You run to win the race.”  Therefore, these light and momentary displeasures are more precious than gold which perishes, because these good things when tested by fire won't perish, but will result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus comes.


(To be continued)


© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved