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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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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Romans by the Book (Lesson 65)



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 65

Welcome back to HBS and I offer a special greeting to those who are visiting ministry for the first time.  I pray you’ll take the time to see what we’re about and return often.

Let’s begin with a short prayer

Lord, You know our hearts and our weaknesses;
You know we are diligently seeking Your truths daily and hiding them in our hearts.  We ask You now to speak to us today through Your Word, teach us, inspire us; help us in our efforts to become more like Your Son, Jesus.
Amen

Please open your Bible to Romans, 8; we’ll drop in at verse 28.
Let’s read Scripture together.

Romans 8

28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

29: For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

30: and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

We leave one sensitive subject (prayer) and prepare to embrace yet another.  I’m referring to Predestination vs Foreknowledge of course.  At the moment I can’t think of another church-related topic that has caused more anxiety, misunderstanding and fractured faith this one.  I know people who have a negative attitude towards God concerning this topic and it’s all due to the misinterpretation of this doctrine. 

Before we start, here are a few ground rules for the Bible student:

Always let Scripture interpret Scripture.  Since the Bible is God’s Word it is capable of interpreting itself.

Always interpret Scripture in a way that is consistent throughout.  Remember, God is never inconsistent. His Word changes not.

Never take a phrase (verse) from Scripture out of context, or out of the meaning of the sentence itself, and then claim that is a truth from God.

While I’m on this tract, did you know studies have shown that Scripture has been written at the 6th grade level?  You know what this means, right?  All of us should be able to understand God’s Word.  Ask yourself, isn’t this what He wants…

Before we jump into the deep end of the pool regarding Election, Predestination, and Foreknowledge I want to spend a few minutes talking about God’s sovereignty.

In verse 28, our apostle Paul is saying that God the Father is sovereignly in charge of all His creation.  Which means, all things are under His rule and His control; and nothing happens without His direction or His permission – who works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11b).  In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ controls human history based upon the sovereign design of the Father (Matthew 28:18).

I begin with the Doctrine of God’s Sovereignty because this is foundational to the Believer’s life.  Ask yourself, were He not sovereign, absolutely, could we trust Him implicitly, and believe His promises?  Could we depend on His faithfulness?

As we go about living our lives, walking by faith, we must firmly believe (know) where we stand in relation to Him, trusting Him and His purpose, or our human nature, being what it is, will rise up and resist conforming to His will (Romans 12:2).  We must recognize that He is not only with us, but that He has “infinite power” and is controlling every situation in our lives.  The Bible is filled with examples of these type situations, but I have two in mind.

Digging Deeper

The LORD told Moses,  “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

From this passage we learn that God was ultimately in control of this situation when from the Israelites perspective the situation appeared to be “out-of-control;” and then the Word of God is as essential to spiritual life as food is to physical life.   In the midst of the famine/hardship the Israelites could not see a purpose let alone God’s purpose.
But the LORD was in control.

Since this is true, all things that happen to us Believers i.e. distress, hardships, famine, peril, and persecution, are ordained in such a way that they work together for good to those who love God.

God never promised us a Rose Garden!

During a sermon not too long ago, a pastor said, “If you’re not currently enduring a storm (trial) in your life, you should be preparing for one.” 

As we follow Jesus, we soon discover how “stormy” life can be.  In Scripture, another name for storm is “testing” and the point of the storm isn’t for us just to survive it but to come through it with greater spiritual wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30), stronger faith (Matthew 8: 5-10), and a greater trust in God (Isaiah 46:10). 

God intentionally “shakes” things up in our lives and for His purpose.  He deliberately takes us through the storms of life, but never leaves us, to expose our spiritual weaknesses and in some cases our unbelief – deficiencies in these areas interfere with His purpose in our lives (Mark 4:35-41). 

This brings me to example #2.  Please turn to Genesis, chapter 50. 

This is the story of Joseph.  His envious brothers planned to kill him.  But they sold him into slavery instead.  Either way, he was out of their lives for good…or so they thought.  Some years later Joseph was appointed a ruler in Egypt and eventually he and his brothers were reunited.   At the reunion his brothers were afraid because Joseph, in his position, held power over them and they could be held accountable for their actions. 

Genesis 50

19: But Joseph said to them (his brothers), “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?

20: “As for you, (read carefully) you meant evil against me, but (the sovereign) God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive…

When Joseph was being mistreated by his brothers, threatened with death, but then sold as a slave into Egypt instead, you’d think his thoughts would circulate around the word “revenge.”  But you’d be wrong.  The circumstances that brought him to this place were inconsequential.  Joseph was where God wanted him…for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).   And Scripture says the LORD was with Joseph (Genesis 39:2) for he was a man of faith.   
He “trusted” the LORD to accomplish His purpose through him.  So, Joseph didn’t use the power of his office or his influence to get even with his brothers.  Instead of carting around the baggage of bitterness and hatred, Joseph loved. He longed to be reunited with his family to bless them as the LORD had blessed him. 

We too must understand that God is sovereign and therefore His purpose is sovereign.  Whatever He sets Himself to do this He will accomplish.  (Psalms 115:3; Psalms 135:6; Matthew 20:15).  

He permitted Satan to enter Eden to secure an apparent triumph there, and God granted Satan leeway at Calvary, at the cross where Jesus died, but what appeared to be a victory for Satan is but the means of securing the purpose of God…salvation for all those who choose to believe.

So it goes with every calamity we Believers face, “but God meant it for good.”

Now flip back to the book of Romans, please.  As I understand verse 28, God has promised all things to work together for good and there are two descriptions of the recipients of this promise:
  
Those who love God
Those who are called according to His purpose

So, the question at hand is who are these recipients?  Who are these that may stand and say with all certainty that all the pain and suffering I’m enduring in this life is under the sovereign control of God?

The answer to this question is in the verse.  Paul defines the beneficiaries of this promise first by what they do toward God, and second by what God did toward them.

First, God causes all things to work together for good, “to those who love God.” 

The recipients are those people who love God (1 John 4:19). 

What is the first and greatest commandment, my friends?  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…” (Matthew 22:36-40).

With this truth in mind, let’s go to 1 Corinthians 2:9.  but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

Since love is a verb, how do we demonstrate our love towards God? 
We can’t send flowers.  Turn to John, chapter 5.

John 5

24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes (trusts, obeys) Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life…

We prove our love for God by believing Him (obeying).

Second, the recipients of this promise are, “those who are called according to His purpose.”

In addition to loving God, the beneficiaries of this promise are also “called” according to His purpose? These two items, loving God and called, go hand-in-hand.

But what does it mean to be “called” by God?  Several “opinions” currently exist as to the meaning of this single word, but what does this book say? 

Always let Scripture interpret Scripture.  Since the Bible is God’s Word it is capable of interpreting itself.

We’ll put a bookmark here and I’ll answer this question next week.

See you then.


(To be continued)


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