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, June 26, 2015

Romans by the Book (Lesson 99)



www.2Tim215.Net
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 99

Welcome to HBS and thank you for “dropping by.”

Have you ever been asked a question and had so much to say in response to that subject that you didn’t know where to begin or end?  That’s where I’m at with Romans 12:1; that’s one.  The second item I want to mention before starting is I know some people will be disappointed with parts of this lesson or all of it while others may be taken aback by it.  So I want the group to be aware that I am not anti Church.  The Church is of God and exists ultimately for His glory and to make known His eternal purpose to the nations.   

However, the churches by and large do not practice the principle of “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4), as God intended.  Instead, since they follow the many differing traditions of men, endless disagreements separate, divide, and create more and more churches of men.  They do not “walk together,” as one because they do not “agree”—either with each other or with God!
  
You’re not going to hear sermons on this subject, not that this is a sermon.  I’ve been around awhile, and I’m telling you honestly some of the things I’m bringing to your attention today I’ve not heard one sentence on from the pulpit.  It’s like the 800lb gorilla in the room no one wants to talk about.  But at HBS, were going to discuss the Truth.

Please open your Bible at Romans 12:1

Last week I ended our lesson with this statement:  Israel’s acceptable worship was at the Temple in Jerusalem, performing the prescribed rituals, as God ordained them.  This is what the LORD God had commanded them to do, so this is what they did.

However, Paul writes, “Your worship, the worship God has commanded for the members of the Body of Christ, in this Dispensation of Grace, is to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy (set apart), acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  But, down through the centuries God’s Church, with a few exceptions, has ignored Romans 12:1’s teaching and they’ve copied the Jews religious system instead minus the animal sacrifices. 

God clearly marked the change in the dispensations with an exclamation point.  This was done when He permitted the Jewish Temple to be destroyed by the Roman army under General Titus in 70 AD.  This fulfilled prophecy effectively denied the Israelites access to Him through their religious rituals, and the Jews have been without temple worship ever since (Matthew 24:1-2).  However, Christendom has built their own lavishly decorated imitation temples with altars and railings and even a little box within the altar they call “the tabernacle” where many believe God lives. 

Cathedrals and great churches first arriving on the scene in the Constantinian Period were built for the express purpose of worshiping God with special furniture, holy relics, accompanied by religious rituals performed by the priesthood, and calendars listing holy days and seasons.  Even “Bible believing Christians” have not escaped the error of this wrong worship with their “morning, and evening worship services,” their religious rituals, holy days, and holy seasons.

I was baptized into and spent the first 17 years of my life entrenched in the Catholic faith.  I was an altar boy for three of those years.  My church home’s ceiling soared high above my head; so high in fact to see the ceiling fully I would have to lay on the floor, flat on my back to take it all in.  But the main altar is what grabbed your attention the moment you entered the building; it was massive and ornately decorated.  There were two smaller altars off to the sides and they too were magnificent.  The altar railing was made up of white marble as was the altar floor.  Statues of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the saints were arrayed around the sanctuary, with contrasting marble columns, and gold accents, the sweet smell of incense permeated the building, and an assortment of candles were stationed everywhere you looked; it was beautiful and extremely impressive.  

I’ve traveled to Vatican City and to St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, Italy.  I’ve studied this church’s history, and observed firsthand the wealth that’s attached to this particular church group, so this is my testimonial on the subject. 

They early church fathers spared no expense while constructing these cathedrals and lesser buildings with the intention of producing a “wow” effect within people.  They expected the masses to experience a “sense” of awe, as if they were coming into the very presence of God.  The solemn High Mass on Christmas Eve produced this affect within me every time so I’d have to say they succeeded.  

Churches are still utilizing this principle today.  They’re erecting Megachurches with the capability of seating thousands.  They ensure that they have a church choral group
completely decked out in brightly colored robes in place.  An orchestras and band playing Christian standards and songs selected from the top 40 contemporary Christian music list is also essential.  The wooden pew is gone and has been replaced by plush seating throughout.  They aim to cater to the need of the individual and the family.  One church I attended had a Starbucks in the front lobby…  They’ll tell you that this is all about worshiping God, but is it?  Many of these activities have an entertainment characteristic. 

I spoke to a pastor of a non-denominational church after Sunday “service” one day.  They had a dynamic rock band with a lead vocalist that could have won American Idol, strobe lights, professional speakers, and a sound system you wouldn’t believe existed in a church.  He said he wanted the people who visited his church and the regulars who came every Sunday to enter and leave with but one word on their lips and that was “Wow!”  I had to admit I was impressed with the band and the singer, but my question to him was, “What about the message?  Doesn’t all of this glitz and glamour overshadow God’s Word?”  He disagreed with me.  He said it was the overall package he presented that mattered and not just one feature of it.  He told me God was in “all of it…”  Really…?

Would you be surprised if I told you that this attitude feeds one of the major concerns in the church today?  Too many churchgoers have an entitlement mentality instead of a servant mentality and statistics prove this out. 

Because the entitlement mentality (what are you doing for me) exists in the church today people are leaving one church after another, searching for the “right” church for the wrong reasons. 

Here are a few quotes taken from exit interviews of people who left local congregations:

“The worship leader refused to listen to me about the songs and music I wanted.”
“The pastor did not feed me.”
“No one from the church visited me.”
“I was out two weeks with an illness and no one called me.”
“They changed the times of their worship services and it messed up my schedule.”
“I told my pastor to go visit my cousin and he never did.”

Did you catch the central theme in these comments?  They all centered on “me.”  The church didn’t fulfill their need/desire.  Today people expect their church to respond to their needs as if it were a country club…“Oh Cabana Boy!”  This is occurring, in part, because they are not being introduced to the knowledge of the truth while they’re attending church. 

Paul teaches us that the primary role of the church is proclaiming the Word of God and not to supply a building for the purpose of worshiping God. 

This Truth may shock some of you but this is what your Bible says and so does mine:  I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).  In the end, no other definition, devised by men, is acceptable.  This definition of the Church Jesus Christ built will guide us throughout the remainder of this lesson.  The Church God designed has and teaches “the Truth.”

Therefore, when looking for a church, and people use a wide range of criteria in evaluating them today (like a Starbucks in the main lobby), but only one reason should guide them.  The most important reason in selecting a church home rests in the strength of their preaching and teaching of God’s Word.  Why do I say this, I didn’t.  Scripture beat me to it:  "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'"  (Matthew 4:4)

If the Bible is being taught accurately (rightly divided for instance) by the church then the congregation will be strong, the people will mature in their faith, and the church’s ministry will grow.  Of course, the opposite is also true and is closer to reality.  

Getting back on point:  is it anything goes when it comes to acceptable worship in the Dispensation of Grace or do we listen to God and base our worship of Him on what He has revealed to us in this book?

Paul spoke of a temple that would make any church building constructed by man pale in comparison, but reflect on the fact that he wrote to Gentile Believers in the Dispensation of the Grace of God and I’ll paraphrase, “Brethren, that’s not your worship, your worship is simply to present your bodies a living sacrifice.”

Our worship today doesn’t instruct us to travel to a certain building, regulated by a certain day of the week, on certain holy days of the year for God’s “earthly people” Israel that was appropriate and acceptable.  But God has set His “heavenly people,” the Body of Christ, free from that kind of worship.  Now we can worship God any time and in any place.  We can worship Him continually 24/7/365.  

We don’t need the priesthood, a building, or a special day.  Our worship service is not just one hour on Sunday, it’s a life dedicated to Him in thanksgiving and worship:  Through Him then, let us continually offer up a (living) sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of (what) lips that give thanks to His name.  And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  (Hebrews 13:15-16)

We can worship the Lord Jesus Christ while sitting in the church building, or roller blading down the street, driving our car or sitting in heavy traffic, washing the dishes or preparing a meal, putting on our shoes in the morning or setting our alarm clock before retiring at night, - at any time in any place worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ is alright, for He is worthy!

Romans 12

1:  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Paul begins this chapter by pleading with the members of this congregation in Rome, in love not under the Law, to present their bodies a living sacrifice voluntarily.  This is the first thing I want you to understand; it’s not a command.  The word beseech clearly indicates this.  The Law was strict, so strict in fact if someone walked too many steps on the Sabbath they were stoned to death for that mistake.  But in God’s Dispensation of Grace should you decide not to praise Him with your lips or offer aid and assistance to people with needs, God’s not going to strike you down, or withhold salvation from you.  Serving others is your reasonable worship but no one is going to drag you kicking and screaming to the altar of sacrifice. 

Paul is literally begging these Jews and Gentiles to unite as members of Christ’s Body, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your (plural) reasonable (worship) service.  Paul’s not addressing individuals there’s definitely a corporate dimension to this call.  He’s addressing every Believer for we are the Body of Christ:  Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.  (1 Corinthians 12:27)

The Lord Jesus Christ communicated this call as One who volunteered His life on our behalf:  who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  (Philippians 2:6-8)

What many people miss is that Jesus Christ showed us how to love others.  He volunteered His life so that we could be free not just from our sin and the second death but to serve Him and each other in ways that would prompt people around us to utter but one word from their lips, “Wow!”  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:3-5).

When we give thanks and worship the Lord by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, it’s not what we can do for Him necessarily, but what He can do in us, and through us.  This worship is holy and acceptable unto God because it is the worship of His Son living in us.  It is “worshiping God in the Spirit.” (Philippians 3:3)

What Does This Book Say?

Back when I was teaching in the Children’s ministry there was a Christian phrase that was so popular it could be found on t-shirts, bracelets, and bumper stickers.  It was WWJD or What Would Jesus Do.   I altered this phrase one week when I adopted it for one of my Bible lessons I titled, what would Jesus desire.  The gist of my lesson was if you’re totally committed in understanding what Scripture says, then you’ll begin by investing more of your time in the study of God’s Word.  Then instead of putting your faith in something you’ve heard, something you read somewhere, or guessing, or hoping it all works out right in the end, you’ll know what Jesus desires. 

When the church meets in a building, if it’s not for worship, what is the purpose?  

Paul wrote that when the church comes together, “Let all things be done for edification (Oikodome in the Greek language meaning:  building up, edifying, promoting another’s growth in Christian wisdom).  (1 Corinthians 14:26b)

The church does not meet solely for worship—for our worship is to apply Romans 12:1.  Believers meet for the purpose of edification, and building up one another, so that the members can go back to their homes, jobs, and schools, and worship the Lord there all week long in accordance with the teaching of Romans 12:1. 

Of course, one aspect of “presenting our bodies a living sacrifice” is to be present and participate in the meetings of the church for the encouragement and enlightenment of the fellow members of the Body of Christ. 

As we have seen, acceptable worship in the dispensation of Grace is not the emotional experience of an individual seated in a great “sanctuary” observing some ritual or listening to the church choir sing.  Worship is not limited to a certain time, day, or place, regulated by the church calendar, but is the nonstop opportunity of the Believer, in response to the mercies of God, who is then motivated by their love of God to thank Him and to serve Him continuously:  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; (Galatians 5:22). 

Time for edification by illustration:  last week Dylann Roof entered a church in Charleston, S.C. with hate in his heart and gunned down 9 people in cold blood.  He’s been apprehended by the authorities and will stand trial for his actions rest assured.  The important thing to take note of here, which the world-at-large has ignored for the most part, is that while the majority of America was spewing hatred in response to his actions, the victims family members gathered at the site of the shooting praying for one another and for Mr. Roof.  They expressed in unison to the city of Charleston and to the media, in the midst of their grief, that they had forgiven Mr. Roof for taking the lives of their loved ones and were praying for his salvation. 

These people of faith took a stand for what they believed.  They could have surrendered to hatred.  That would have been easy.  But instead of joining the crowd, instead of conforming to the patterns of this world, they obeyed God and the teaching of Romans 12:1.  They offered this young man their kindness and their sincere forgiveness, which was their reasonable (worship) service. 

Please take note; this was the “right response.”  Why can I say this?  Jesus set the bar.  One of Jesus’ final 7 statements from the Cross before He died was this:  "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."  (Luke 23:34)

Is it easy to show kindness and to forgive someone who has taken the life of your mother, your father, your brother, or your sister?  No, it’s not easy but it’s your reasonable (logical) service in light of God’s mercies.  Their act of unnatural love should have forced the world to sit up and take notice, but they were absorbed by their hatred. 

Learning to love the way Jesus Christ loved others is going to take time and some effort on our part, but as we continually pray asking the Holy Spirit to lead us, to guide us, and to help us do the things God desires we will arrive at that place God wants us to be and that is like His Son.

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved




Friday, June 19, 2015

Romans by the Book (Lesson 98)



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 98

I’m grateful for God’s gift of another day, and I’m grateful for each one of you.
I thank you for the enthusiasm you have shown in gaining knowledge of the truth.

Studies have shown that people are not happier living busier lives – cramming more and more things to do into their daily schedule.  The population is taking more and more prescriptive medications to combat depression, loneliness, alienation, and stress than ever before which proves that plan A isn’t working.  It’s essential that people re-evaluate what’s really important and be intentional about “slowing down” and learning to savor the life God has given them.

We spend our lives hurrying through each day, meeting one commitment and then rushing off to meet another; racing the clock along the way.  Let’s face the facts we don’t savor one moment, one hour, or the day God has given us.  Because we’re too busy we fail to notice the beauty God brings into our lives everyday such as:  the warmth in a stranger’s smile, the sound of children’s laughter, a field of sunflowers, a song bird in its nest, or the crimson and purple sunset.

Believe me when I say Satan wants to keep you busy, too busy to be occupied with thoughts of God or the things of God… So practice being still.  Learn to create pockets of quietness.  Turn off the cell phone, the music, the T.V. set or anything else that might cause a disturbance in order to carve out 20-30 minutes of silence either in the morning or in the evening and spend that time with God and His Word.  He tells us that our strength comes from quietness and rest and not from activity (Isaiah 30:15).

Let’s start this week’s Bible lesson.  Please open your Bible at Romans 12:1

Many pastors and Bible teachers refer to Romans as a “Gold Mine of biblical treasure” and for good reason:  the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the benefits of justification, and the riches of God’s Grace, no condemnation in Christ Jesus, no separation from Christ Jesus, and the adoption as sons and daughters are but a few of the Church Doctrines Paul teaches. 

So, Romans is loaded with “spiritual nuggets,” as I like to refer to them, and I’d be remiss if I moved on without examining at least one more important doctrine located in verse one which pertains to our reasonable service.  Let’s read it again together. 

Romans 12

1: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
(KJV)

This week we’re looking at the word service.  The Greek word for service is:  Latreia (pronounced: lat-ri’ah).  It means – the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law.  This word could just as well be translated “worship.” 

I’ll illustrate:  most of you have driven past a church at one time or another.  When you drove by, you may have noticed their sign out front advertising their “business hours.”  The sign might have read:  “Sunday Service at 11:00 A.M.”   This sign could just as well have read, “Our worship of God begins at 11:00 A.M.”  The messages are identical.

The word “worship” is derived from an old English word “worthship” and means to attribute worth to God, to consider Him as worthy of the ultimate value in our lives, and then in some way express that sense of worth and value to Him.  (Exodus 20:3-6)

When you stop to consider that the Creator God’s worth is infinite and we can never give back enough - this Truth leads us to understand its biblical definition, which is a new life in Christ Jesus given in service (worship) to God – here on earth.

If you’ll turn with me to Revelation 5:14, Scripture gives us a “glimpse” of what life and worship will be like in heaven:  Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 

This is descriptive of what “worship” will be like in heaven, but how should we be worshiping God today, here on earth?  The Bible provides the answer.

Paul uses the same word, “service,” several times in his letter to the Hebrews:  The first (covenant) therefore also indeed had ordinances of (divine) service, and the sanctuary, a worldly (earthly) one. (Hebrews 9:1 - The Darby Bible)

The LORD God ordained the ordinances of worship under the Law of Moses for the people of Israel describing how and where this was to be done.  The earthly sanctuary spoken of in Hebrews 9:1 refers to the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and then later to the Jewish Temple which stood in the very center of Jerusalem, where the worship of Israel was continuously carried out (Hebrews 9:2-5).

Paul then goes on to describe the worship or service that God commanded for Israel and the personnel who were required to perform the worship (Hebrews 9:6-7).

It was a complicated and burdensome religious system, but all things being considered what a privilege!  The LORD God in effect told His people I want to have fellowship with you.  Then He provided access, a way, in which they could enter into His presence to fellowship with Him.  Of course, this fellowship was extremely limited; only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies and this happened only once a year to make atonement for their sins, but it was access to the Creator God and it was “divine worship” or service.

Our Acceptable Service

In all of this, God has taught us there is a right way to worship Him, which means there’s a way that’s unacceptable.  This Bible Truth brings two absolutes in Scripture into play.  The first one is found in Hebrews 9:22b:  and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  The other one is located at Hebrews 11:6a:  And without faith (taking God at His Word; every time) it is impossible to please Him

Using the Law of First Mention, and turning to the book of Genesis, we find the very first “unacceptable” offering (act of worship) to the LORD:  So it came about in the course of time that Cain (Adam’s first born) brought an offering to the LORD of (what) the fruit of the ground.  (Genesis 4:3)

Adam’s youngest son, Abel, in obedience to the Lord’s command also brought an offering but note the difference:  Abel, on his part, also brought of the firstlings (the firstborn) of his flock and of their fat portions.  (Genesis 4:4a)

One of the first things we learn from this is that:

Cain was a farmer:  he worked the land and harvested its reward. 
Abel was a herdsman:  he owned sheep and bred them.

The Lord responded differently to these offerings:

Abel:  And the LORD had (what) regard for Abel and for his offering; (Genesis 4:4b)

Cain:  but for Cain and for his offering He (the LORD) had no regard.  (Genesis 5a)

Cain became very angry and his countenance fell, after the LORD rejected his offering (Genesis 4:5b).  This is significant as it reflects the viewpoint of prideful man to this day. 

The LORD lovingly spoke to Cain expressing the way to please Him saying if you would listen to Me and do what I tell you to do, then I’d accept you and your offering:  If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”  (Genesis 4:6-7)
 
Why did the LORD accept Abel’s offering but regard Cain’s offering as unacceptable?

Please turn to Hebrews 11:4:  By (what) faith (which is taking God at His Word) Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still (does what) speaks.   

Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain – this is the key that unlocks the answer to the above question.  Now I admit you have to know Scripture because the first animals to be sacrificed for man’s sin aren’t specifically named; it’s subtle:  The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.  (Genesis 3:21)

Animals were slain, their blood was shed for Adam’s sin, and so these garments of skin were more than just clothing for our first parents they represented temporary atoning blood. 

As I said, it’s not specifically mentioned here but it becomes obvious when you study Scripture two important and distinct facts came into play immediately after Adam’s sin.  The LORD God had explained to Adam that in order to maintain fellowship with Him and to remain in “right standing” with Him a blood sacrifice would be required in the course of time for their sins.  But above all faith in what He said was absolutely essential.  There was to be no deviation from His set ordinance. 

Obviously, Adam passed this vital information on to his children.  Cain and Abel may not have understood all there was to know about this subject but we know Abel was a man of faith (he took God at His Word) because he brought the proper sacrifice to the LORD, and He accepted it.

As for his brother Cain:  So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of (what) the fruit of the ground.  We don’t know what Cain’s offering was.  It could have been a bundle of wheat, barley, or a basket of corn, but it wasn’t the appropriate sacrifice.  Fruit of the ground doesn’t shed blood.

Cain disobeyed the LORD’s command.  This is why the LORD didn’t accept Cain’s offering.  Cain’s willful disobedience demonstrated that he was self-willed and that he was destitute of faith. 

This describes most of the world today.  When people are introduced to the Truth of God’s Word and shown to be sinners in Light of it how do they respond?  They too become angry and instead of trusting in what God has said in His Word they say, “No God” or they develop their own plan to please Him as did Cain demonstrating that they too are obstinate and destitute of faith. 

So, if we want God to accept our worship of Him then we need to find out from God how He wants us to worship Him in the but now era or the Dispensation of Grace.

Our Reasonable Service (Part 1)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  (KJV)

The twelfth chapter of Romans is filled with more commands from our risen Lord on the practical aspects of living our new life in Christ Jesus than any other chapter in the N.T.  It’s noteworthy that the first principle Paul chooses to deal with is “worship” for both the Gentiles and the believing Israelites in this assembly.  He presents it first because it is Priority One in their lives as it should be in ours. 

Please don’t fail to notice the dispensational emphasis of Romans 12:1.  When Paul writes, “I beseech you by the mercies of God,” he’s not referring to the mercy of the Lord in general, but to the specific mercy that he wrote about in the previous chapter.

For just as you (Gentiles) once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their (Israel’s) disobedience, so these (the Jews) also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.  (Romans 11:30-31)

In times past, Israel had fellowship with the LORD God while the Gentiles were far off, without God, and without hope in the world.  (Ephesians 2:12)  But now due to Israel’s disobedience the Gentiles have obtained God’s mercy.

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, had come to His own in fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers (Romans 15:8), but the Israelites had rejected Him and they along with the Gentiles conspired to put Him to death (Psalms 2:1-3).  Still, our Lord and Savior prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”  In the early chapters of the Book of Acts we read how the Holy Spirit preached forgiveness to the nation of Israel, if they would repent and believe in the risen and ascended Messiah.  But again Israel was disobedient and rebellious persecuting the apostles and the Messianic Believers culminating with the stoning of Stephen, a man filled with the Holy Spirit.

This act of disobedience by Israel prompted God to temporarily blind His people  (Rom. 11:15) and He raised up a new apostle, Paul, the zealous persecutor of God’s church, the first person to be saved by grace (alone), and revealed to him a previously withheld secret program, “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1-10).

Because of Israel’s disobedience, mercy has been shown to the Gentiles, but the Jew is also blessed in that they too are now being saved by the grace of God through faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for their sins.

“I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God….”  Paul is writing in the light of the dispensational change that the Lord had revealed to him.  The Gentiles who were once far off, not allowed to enter any further than the “vestibule” of the Temple, these Gentiles, saved by grace, now are invited to worship God.  But please note carefully how they were to worship the Lord.  Not by imitating Israel’s worship, not by building a temple, not even by going to the temple in Jerusalem (it was still standing and operating when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans), but by “presenting your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship.”

There has been a definite dispensational change in God’s plan for acceptable worship; and it’s profound.  It once required all those complicated necessities for acceptable worship: a temple building, with furniture, relics, the priesthood, an altar, and animal sacrifices according to the calendar and the appropriate Feast Days, but now all that is changed.  God no longer has a temple building of stone and wood.  In this new dispensation of the grace of God, the temple of God is the Believer’s body!

“…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Cor. 6:19).

That is just the beginning of the changes.  Today we worship God, not by going to a building (after all, we are God’s building; we’re God’s Temple), making use of certain implements, the appropriate personnel, by observing a certain ritual and by observing certain feast days; our worship begins by presenting your bodies a living sacrifice

Then when Paul writes “…which is your reasonable service,” underline the word “your” for emphasis.  Israel’s acceptable worship was at the Temple in Jerusalem, performing the prescribed ritual, as God ordained it, but Paul writes, “Your worship, the worship God has commanded for the members of the Body of Christ, in this Dispensation of Grace, is to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

We’ll pick it up here next week. 


(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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