Home Bible Study

"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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Friday, February 27, 2015

Romans by the Book (Lesson 83)



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 83


Welcome everyone to HBS and to our study of the book of Romans verse-by-verse.
Before we begin this week’s lesson I’m going to respond to a question:

Why did I start this on-line Bible study?

Statistics show traditional Bible study attendance is still declining and this is true whether it’s held in a church or in the home of a church member.  There are multiple reasons for this, of course.  Some people have been significantly “hurt” by a church group and are reluctant to attend a Bible study or a church for that matter.  Then there are those who are uncomfortable in a small group setting because they “feel” their Bible knowledge is not “up to par” with others in the group.  Some people are home-bound.  Some are just too busy; they would prefer to arrange and keep their own schedules and fit Bible study in when they have time.  I could continue because there are literally as many reasons as there are people in the congregation.  Therefore, the need exists for an on-line community of Believers gathering together regularly to study God’s Word in the safety and comfort of their home.  HBS and other sites like it have helped fill that niche.

Thank you for the question

Please go to Romans chapter 10 and we’ll drop in at verse 5.

Paul marks the difference between the way of the Law vs the way of faith

Romans 10

5: For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live (by) that righteousness. 

Paul wisely chooses to develop his argument by quoting Leviticus 18:5 and Moses, the man who wrote it, where the LORD God says, ’So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them…
  
The word “if” in this command from God makes it a conditional statement.  If Israel would obey all God’s commandments 24/7; 365, then they will LIVE – simply said.  The Israelites listened to these words and responded in unison saying, All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 24:3). 

There’s a small word in Israel’s response that’s often overlooked.  It’s the word “do.  The Mosaic Law was legalistic.  It was a work-based religious system.  But please understand the element of faith has always been a requirement for salvation.  You can trace this truth all the way back to Adam and the woman in the garden, after Adam’s act of disobedience.  Nothing is specifically mentioned, but we have evidence that an act of faith took place on the part of Adam and the woman because her name was changed to Eve meaning:  the mother of all the living.  You pick up a couple more clues regarding the need to believe God and obey Him in Genesis 4:3-7.  Thus, taking God at His Word and obeying Him have always been an essential element in one’s salvation. 

Therefore, you cannot separate the two.  Faith and obedience go together.
The LORD God required animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering of the Israelites sins and there were certain procedures prescribed by God which they had to perform (Leviticus 4:35, 16).  The Israelites couldn’t deviate from God’s spoken word. 

When they obeyed the LORD God, they were demonstrating faith in what God had said.  However, as time passed, the faith element slipped away, and all that remained was the rote religious system – the people just did the “works.”  And God won’t stand for this:  “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.  ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ “(Matthew 15:8-9).

Contrastingly, we see this in the church today.  People go to their local house of worship, sit in the same seat each week, sing some songs, put a few dollars in the basket when it passes by, fight sleep while the church leader sermonizes, or check their e-mail on their smart phones, leave early before the service is over to beat the rush out of the parking lot, and then return to the practices of the “world” until Sunday comes around again.  There is no element of faith involved.  People are just participating in the “rote religious practices.”  It’s a sad commentary but the majority of Christians today are ignorant concerning what God has said.  These folks are doing the “things” they think need to be done (works) but without faith.  Just as Paul said, they have a (kind of) zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  And God won’t stand for this!  Scripture says, without faith it’s impossible to please Him…

Getting back to Paul, and Moses’ statement in particular, I’m paraphrasing here, perfect obedience to the Law would obtain eternal life from God.  If this were not true, the LORD God wouldn’t have said it.  But both Paul (Romans 3:9-19, 23) and the Old Testament (1 Kings 8:46) declare that absolutely no one gains eternal life this way because we all sin.  But the principle that the LORD God’s demand for faith and no sin is crucial because none of the O.T. sacrifices, or the cross of Christ, makes sense without it. 

Paul writes:  And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.  You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be (what) justified by law; you have fallen from grace (Galatians 3:3-4)

In other words, if you’re one of those who want the “righteousness from law,” you must keep the whole law PERFECTLY and by a PERFECT faith (see Numbers 14:11, 20:12).  Only one Man has managed to measure up to God’s perfect standard.

Let’s go to the next verse.

Romans 10

6: But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follow:  “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), (Deuteronomy 30:12; Romans 9:30)

This verse speaks of achieving self righteousness through human effort.

In verse 6 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 9:4 where God warns Israel:  DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART – when the LORD your God has driven them out (Israel’s enemies) before you, ‘Because of My righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land…  In other words, Israel’s receiving the Promised Land wasn’t because of anything they had done.  It wasn’t due to their ingenuity or military might.  It wasn’t because they had kept all of God’s commandments perfectly, so it had nothing to do with their righteousness.  It was due to God’s undeserved grace apart from any human effort. 

In a nutshell Paul is saying all their good works accumulated over a lifetime (keeping the Law), couldn’t please God.  There is no life or salvation in the Law; it can only condemn and kill: For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be (what) fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).

God’s way is the only path to “righteousness” and this is by faith in Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected, according to the Scriptures.  People in Paul’s day who were building their own “stairway” to heaven based on their good deeds or their own merit system are excluded, as are the people who fall into this category today: For all of us have become unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like filthy garments (Isaiah 64:6).

When Paul says, WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN, he is referring to all the Israelites who were (are) storing up works, trying to be good, to achieve righteousness.  It amounts to saying, “I’ve no need of the cross or Jesus Christ because I got this.  I can make it on my own.”  In effect these people are denying Jesus Christ’s work of the cross which is absolutely necessary for God’s righteousness.    

Let’s go to verse 7.

Romans 10

7: or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). “(Hebrews 13:20)

Here Paul is saying don’t presume you can gain God’s righteousness by paying for your own sin for Scripture says:  No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him – For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever (Psalms 49:7-8; Matthew 25:8-10). 

The only way an individual can be saved today is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
Now that’s a narrow path, I know it is and the world believes in “wide paths” or the “many option” plan.   But where will those other options take them?  That’s the question.  If you’re relying on Mohammed, Buddha, Judaism, Hindu gods, or any other religious cult, and some so called Christian systems fit into this category today, for reconciliation none of these religious systems will transform you from being an enemy of God to a saved individual.  (Matthew 7:13-14; Romans 5:6-10; Ephesians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:18-19).   

When the nation of Israel (or anyone) tries to live under the righteousness of the law, or some other merit system, no slip-ups are allowed.  One lie and you’re done.  One angry word and you’re out of bounds, and there is no penalty great enough to redeem yourself.  For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers (here’s that word “do” again) of the Law will be justified.  (Romans 2:12-13; Matthew 7:21)

Before we move on from here it’s imperative that you all understand where our Apostle Paul is coming from.  He’s emphasizing to his brethren that both Jew and Gentiles are included in God’s plan of salvation by grace alone through “faith alone,” in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  The act of believing (plus nothing else) imputes Christ’s righteousness to the Believer.  After that, when God the Father looks at the true Believer He views them “just as if they never sinned” – having been justified by faith (Romans 5:1a).  Philemon 18 is the perfect illustration of our sin being imputed to Christ’s account.

Our Apostle Paul preached salvation through “faith” (alone) and it’s important that you understand there is nothing added to this declaration.  You don’t need to climb a high mountain, swim a swollen river in the winter, walk on broken glass barefoot, join a specific church group, pray a certain prayer, be baptized with water, keep every commandment perfectly, or tithe a certain amount on a regular basis.  When Paul says all you need to do is believe in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures to be saved, plus nothing else that’s what he means (Galatians 1:3-10).  Anything added to Paul’s gospel is “works.” 

It’s my responsibility to bring to your attention what the Scriptures say and what they don’t say.  In regard to the salvation experience, at no time did the Apostle Paul invite the individual to “accept Jesus into their heart, and you’ll not find any mention of a “sinner’s prayer” in Paul’s writings.  I’m not interested in starting an argument.  I merely point these truths out to you because people have a tendency to “lock on” to the traditions of men forgetting what God said. 

A 2011 Barna Study revealed that nearly half of all adults in America have prayed such a prayer, and have heard such an invitation during an altar call.  Subsequently they believe they are going to heaven, although many of them rarely, if ever, attend a church, read the Bible personally at home, and have lifestyles that conflict with the written Word of God.  This brings up the question of legitimacy regarding their salvation.

Engaging in debates as to whether it’s right or wrong for someone to use the expression “Ask Jesus into your heart” is a fruitless waste of time, much like riding a merry-go-round it gives you something to do, but takes you nowhere.  However, it may interest you to know that some evangelicals have begun to criticize the “sinner’s prayer” as unbiblical and superstitious.  They say there is more to salvation than saying a “formulaic prayer.”And this Bible teacher couldn’t agree more and says thank you God.    

The real issue is ASSURANCE.  What matters is establishing a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and then knowing you are truly saved.  I know children and adults who struggle with the issue of assurance.  They doubt their salvation.

Academic credentials are no guarantee of clarity in communication.  Sometimes an educated person can take a simple message, confuse it, and make it anything but clear.  In Colossians 4:4 Paul prayed to make his gospel telling clear “to light up” it’s message.
The person who relays the message of God’s good news has the responsibility to “shed light” on the message; to make it clear, and not obscure it. 

How important is this?  Answer this question for me:  what’s at stake? 
Only in the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of salvation (Romans 1:16).  So, it’s no wonder Paul had an “anathema” for anyone who preached a different gospel.

At some point in time every Believer is going to be given an opportunity to share the gospel in some form or fashion.  When doing so, they must be very careful about what they say and how they say it.  For example the word “believe” can be misleading, if it’s presented as intellectual assent, instead of as trust.  Judas Iscariot believed certain “facts” about Jesus but he never came to trust Jesus for his salvation. 

Salvation is not about believing a list of facts. 
Salvation is not about asking Jesus to come into your heart. 
Salvation is not about praying to God for forgiveness (He’s already done that). 
Salvation is about believing Jesus Christ’s shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for you; and on this matter you “won’t be shaken” (firmly stand).


(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 20, 2015

Romans by the Book (Lesson 82)



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 82

I want to take a moment to extend a warm welcome to those who are visiting us for the first time.  Whether you're just curious, or if you’re searching for a place to study your Bible verse-by-verse on-line I’m delighted that you’re here.

I also want to give a “shout-out” to all the regulars who faithfully return week after week; month after month.  Some of you have been with me for years and I wish to take the time to acknowledge you and your commitment and then encourage you to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, if I may borrow from our Apostle Paul’s race analogy. 

Please turn in your Bible to Romans, chapter 10.

In Romans 9:30 Paul began to point out the failure of national Israel in relation to their salvation, in contrast to the Gentiles, who were being saved because they believed Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16).  However, not only did the nation of Israel fail to obtain the righteousness that is by faith they totally missed the true nature of the law as defined by God’s covenant with Israel, i.e. a personal relationship with Him and with one another.  Jesus said this was the “greatest commandment:  “AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’  “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’  (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:28-31)


We begin our study of Romans 10 today and I want you to remember throughout this chapter Paul’s teaching shifts from Israel’s past to how God is dealing with national Israel in this present dispensation – the Church Age.

I have repeatedly used the word “dispensation” in the last few lessons with only a brief explanation and I don’t want to assume everyone understands what Paul means by it.  So I’m going to take a couple of minutes to go over this topic with you now.  You’ll need the KJV or the Wycliffe Bible translations to locate this word. The modern translations have removed it.  (I Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10, 3:2, 3:9; Colossians 1:25)


First - there’s a God-given timeline in the Bible; and it can be found in the book of Ephesians chapter 2.  This timeline consists of 3 time periods:  the past:  time past,” the present:  but now, “and the future:  ages to come.”  (Ephesians 2:11-12, 13).

Second - there are three classes of people in Scripture:  The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God. 

Third - there are divisions in the Bible called “dispensations” so studying the Word of Truth, rightly divided, has to do with distinguishing between those divisions and different time periods.  The entire Bible is written for us; for our learning, etc. (Romans 15:4), but the entire Bible is not written directly to the church (gentiles), so check your mail in other words.

The “but now” period we currently live in is called the dispensation of the grace of God, or the Body of Christ program.  It began with the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).  Saul was later called Paul, and appointed the Apostle to the gentiles by Jesus Christ.  The ascended, glorified Jesus Christ, from his place in heaven (Psalms 110:1), revealed the mystery that had been kept secret in the mind of God since before the foundations of the earth (Deuteronomy 29:29; Ephesians 1).  This is why Paul’s letters from Romans to Philemon have been called, “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25-26). 

One of the main differences between the “but now” period and the two other periods; “time past” and “ages to come,” is that God today isn’t recognizing one nation above any other nation.  In this age God is dealing with mankind as a whole; individually, not nationally.  During His Kingdom Program; in “time past” and then in “ages to come” the focus was and will be again on His chosen Nation; Israel.  At that time future there will once again be a distinction between Jew and Gentile; the Church of God will no longer be on earth having met the Lord Jesus Christ in the air at the rapture event (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

I pray you find this information useful as you continue your study of God’s Word.

Let’s read some Scripture together.

Romans 10

1: Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

2: For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.

3: For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

5: For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness (Leviticus 18:5; Romans 2:19-20).

As I read through these 5 verses there’s one statement that stands out from all the rest and that is:  For Christ is the end (telos) of the law (nomos) (v4). 

Verse 4 has been labeled a “difficult passage” by some, and there is some disagreement as to the meaning of the words “end” and “law.”   

The first principle of proper Bible understanding is to take the passage at face value or just as it reads.  Look first for the literal meaning.  Then, if it’s a difficult verse, read all the verses surrounding it.  Read what comes before it and after it.  Read the entire chapter if necessary, often this will reveal the true meaning.  Remember, every Bible verse must be in harmony with the rest of the Bible – a Bible verse will never disagree with another in God’s Word.  Let Scripture interpret Scripture.  It’s a good idea to know who the writer of the passage is, who they are writing to, and why.  This will help you understand it properly.  And always remember Paul wrote his letters to Believers in the Greek language.  When they were translated into English some of their meaning, or what Paul meant to say, was lost in translation.  Therefore, it’s necessary to return to the original language to pick up on these meanings and nuances. 

For Christ is the end (telos) of the law (nomos) for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Greek word for “end” is telos and it can be translated into English in several ways depending on how the writer uses it.  For example telos can mean “termination point,” which would convey the message that Christ’s coming has brought some law (nomos) to an end.  Some people cite Bible passages from Mark 3:26; Luke 1:33; and Hebrews 7:3 where this same word refers to something coming to an end.  Telos can also be rendered “goal” or “purpose” and Bible verses such as 1 Timothy 1:5; Romans 6:21-22; and James 5:11 clearly indicate this.   

The meaning of the word law (nomos) in this verse has confused some too, so it seems.  Was Paul speaking of the law given at Mt. Sinai, to the Pentateuch, or is he referring to the entire revelation of God’s will in the Old Testament? 

To understand how Romans 10:4 fits with the rest of Paul’s letter to the Romans and with his theology in general you’ll need to go back and review Romans 9:30-33: 
What shall we say then?  That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law.  Why ? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.  They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

In this paragraph, Paul uses vocabulary from athletic events.  The Greek words for “followed,” “attained,” “stumbled,” and “be ashamed” are all words associated with foot races.  The word for “attained” is a form of the Greek verb Katalambano (pronounced: kat-al-am-ban’-o), which Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 9:24.  Here to “follow” is to run hard for a prize, to “attain” is to experience the thrill of victory, and to “be ashamed” is to feel the agony of defeat.  The word telos (end) could be a part of Paul’s analogy because it’s a word commonly used at the finish line of a race. 

The prize achieved by the Gentiles in this race analogy is “righteousness” (Dikaiosune in the Greek).   Paul uses the word about thirty times in the book of Romans where he writes about it in connection to God’s fairness in including Gentiles (Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-31), righteousness is announced in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17), it has been proclaimed in the law and the prophets (Romans 3:5-6, 21), and the coming of Jesus Christ and His ministry on earth are central to it (Romans 3:24-26, 10:12).

When Paul says the Gentile Believers have “attained righteousness,'' he means that they have received salvation by God's grace, which is granted impartially to both Jews and Gentiles through Jesus Christ (Romans 2:9-11).  On the other hand, Paul says that the Jews had been pursuing a different goal---the "law of righteousness''- but had not reached it.

In those days, many Jews took nationalistic pride in their status as children of Abraham and protectors of God's Torah.  They greatly valued the "works of the law''- those things which set them apart from other nations, like circumcision, the dietary laws, their Sabbath and temple worship.  But in doing so, Paul is saying, they had made God's word an end in itself and failed to see that God’s word (the entire Old Testament) actually pointed to Jesus Christ (their Messiah) and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

In Paul's race analogy, Israel had stumbled but has not permanently fallen (Romans 11:11, 25-26) and has been overtaken because they pursued the wrong goal.  In their pride in the way Torah distinguished them from other nations, the Israelites had not recognized Jesus, the living Torah, waiting at the finish line with salvation (the prize) for them and all other nations.

When we carefully examine the verses leading up to Romans 10:4, we can see that the main subject of discussion is not the current status of an OT legal code (nomos – law). Paul does not fault his people for their devotion to God’s Law; in fact, he compliments their "zeal for God'' (Romans 10:2).  However, Paul says that their zeal was "not in accordance with knowledge.''  The Jews had faithfully looked to God to see what they should be doing all their lives, but most had not understood what God was doing as outlined in the Scriptures.  

In Romans 10:4, Paul summarizes what Israel had missed:  Christ, with His saving grace for all believers, was the culmination, purpose, (telos) and goal of the law (nomos).

Jesus Christ didn’t terminate the Law!  He is the very purpose for the Law!  The Law was holy and perfect; the Israelites – not so much.  Therefore, Jesus Christ is the “goal” at which the Torah (Law) aims for he offers the Torah’s righteousness to everyone who believes in Him.  The Law helps transform us to be like Him as we strive to adhere to it:  “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”  (Matthew 12:50)

In Paul’s explanation of God’s dealing with His people in Romans 9:30-31 and 10:5-10 the meaning of the word “end” (telos) would appear to be that, when an Israelite believed on Jesus Christ for his salvation he was as completely through with the Law for righteousness as if it had never been given.  for you are not under law but grace (Romans 6:14b).

The very second a lost person believes Paul’s gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) they’re baptized by (not with) the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.  Jesus Christ died for ALL our sins and this resolved the sin issue ONCE and FOR ALL; God the Father’s sin debt had been paid (Romans 6:10; 1 Peter 3:18). 

To believe God’s good news is to be reconciled in your “mind” and not God’s (2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 1:21).  It’s a SON issue today; not a SIN issue.  The issue isn’t forgiveness of sin the issue is believing in Jesus Christ’s finished work of the cross; what He accomplished on your behalf and mine, in order for us to be identified with Christ Himself, having His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9; Colossians 2:10-15). 

The nation of Israel believed they had righteousness in and of themselves, and that they were meriting a righteous standing before God by law-keeping.  That’s not why God gave that nation the law!  The law was added to show them who they were: sinners

Perfect righteousness is the only righteousness God can recognize, and He had to provide it for them.  This was accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ.  All Israel had to do was simply recognize that, change their mind, and take Him at His word.  
We know they didn’t.

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved