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 helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not 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, August 24, 2013

Romans by the Book Lesson 25)

Home Bible Study- Lutz, Florida
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 25

I want to commend you for putting some time aside for Bible study. 
It doesn’t matter if it’s at your home, this website, or at some other venue; just so long as you’re receiving the Truth of God’s Word – Rightly Divided. 
This is the mark you must aim for.

When I ended the last session, we were in the book of Galatians at chapter 4 where the Apostle Paul offered a clearly constructed illustration dramatizing what life was like under the supervision of the Law for the Jews. 

This left us with the question how does the Law affect us Gentiles?
We’re going to answer that question in this Bible lesson.

I’m coming from the position that the Mosaic Law was intended by the LORD God to be a temporary covenant.  The New Covenant, to which the Mosaic Law pointed, stands as a “way of life” that is different in nature to the way of life “under the Law.”

Believers in the Grace Age live by the Spirit and are guided by love and Truth.
In other words, the Mosaic Law is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

(We owe our thanks to theologians such as Martin Luther, and Jonathan Edwards for   developing these insightful Biblical Truths.)

All too often, Christians assume that God deals with Believers in a way that is shaped by the Law. 

Our preaching, feelings, teaching and lives all too often suffer from problems that flow from the idea that God relates to us in a way that has more in common with the Mosaic Law than the New Covenant Gospel. 

Please know the Lord Jesus Christ liberated us from the Mosaic Law to live a life of Spirit empowered love.  But, what does the book say?

Please turn to the book of Colossians, chapter 2, at verse 12.

Colossians 2

12: having been buried with Him (Jesus) in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through (what) faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

13: When you were dead in your transgressions (sins) and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

14: (read carefully – this is why we’re here) having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us (The Law), which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way (or removed it), having nailed it to the cross.

Now here’s a perfect example of why I use more than one Bible translation when I am engaged in Bible study.  Verse 13 above isn’t very clear. 

Let’s try the Bible in Basic English.

14: Having put an end to the handwriting of the law which was against us, taking it out of the way by nailing it to his cross;

There, that’s better.
Jesus Christ liberated (freed) us Believers from the Mosaic Law, when He went to the cross.  Actually, it was His physical resurrection that put an end to the Law.

John 1

17: For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Please open your Bible to Galatians, chapter 3, at verse 22-23.

Galatians 3
22: But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23: But before faith came, we were kept in custody (bondage) under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
As I said earlier, the Law was a temporary dispensation. 
After Jesus came, the Law ceased to be the thing that permitted the Jews to have a relationship with God.  Out with the Old Covenant and in with the New Covenant.

The fundamental New Testament claim about the relationship between the Law and Jesus Christ is that Jesus has “fulfilled” the Law. 

Jesus said,

Matthew 5

17: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to (what) fulfill.”

This verse is often misunderstood.  Here’s what it means:

In this verse, “fulfillment” means – to bring to the intended consummation or end.
Jesus fulfilled the Law, which means He brought it to its God intended end.

Here’s an example.  Consider a step on a set of escalators at the airport.
The step is designed with the intention of carrying a person up a level in the building.
This is the end of its purpose.  Once a person gets on the step, the escalator carries that individual up to the next level where they exit, and the fulfillment has been reached.

From that moment onward the step travels in a different mode.  It cannot be stood upon on its descent.  It would be wrong to assume the step has been abolished simply because it cannot carry a person on its downward movement.  Once it completes it cycle, the step is ready to fulfill its purpose once again…and so on.

Therefore, the Law has not been abolished when Jesus brings its reign to an end, because fulfillment in Jesus was always the proper appointed end of the Mosaic Law.
Put another way – never assume that the Law works the same way it did in the past before Jesus fulfilled it. 

Jesus was the perfect Israel who never sinned, and as such lived out the perfect righteousness of God.  However, Jesus died bearing the wrath of God – that is the curse of the Law –

Galatians 3

13: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” – (see Deuteronomy 21:23).

Relationship of Mosaic Law to Believers

A Believer is someone who has been “set free” from the Mosaic Law.
This is just one of many blessings that Jesus procured for us.

The rules and commandments that God gave Moses no longer act as the model for a Believers life.  Remember Colossians 2:14; these laws were nailed to the cross.

Many new Believers (and some old in the faith) use the Ten Commandments or Sabbath Laws to assist them as they grow in godliness.  But to do so is a denial of the New Testament Covenant Gospel.  The Apostle Paul argued that to return to the Law is in effect to commit adultery with a dead husband.

Romans 7:

1: Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?

2: For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

3: So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulterous; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulterous though she is joined to another man.

4: Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

5: For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

6: But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the (what) Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

The Apostle to the Gentiles teaches that having “died” to the Law a Believer is moved out of the realm of the Law into the realm of Jesus Christ. 

A person cannot belong to both Law and Jesus.  There is a vast difference between a life that is shaped by the Law and a life that is shaped by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The Law commands us to “do our righteousness.

Deuteronomy 6

25: “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.”

The Gospel, instead of commanding us to do our righteousness, promises to “give us God’s righteousness.”

Romans 3

21:  But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

22: even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24: being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Now that you’re a Believer, the Spirit of God lives within you. 
You and I live by the Spirit and not by the Law.

Galatians 3

2: This is the only thing I want to find out from you:  did you receive the Spirit (of God) by the works of the Law, or by hearing (the Gospel) with faith?

3: Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

What’s the message of verse 3?

A Believer is not to obey rules or commandments relying on these to bring about righteousness.  Rather a Believer is to realize that the Spirit of God Himself is within him or her, working to grow His own fruit of righteousness in each one of us.
The Law could never achieve this.

The Law is a reflection of the character of God, because the Law comes from the very heart of God.  Therefore, the Law is good, pure, right, and holy.

This Law, by its very nature, coming from the heart of God, is a standard for human conduct, a perfect standard.  Because it is perfect, and we are not, it is impossible for sinful people to keep.  This is why the Law became a “stumbling block.”

The old system under the Law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves.  Hebrews 10:1

When God speaks of a New Covenant, it means that He has made the first one obsolete.  It is out of date and will soon disappear.  (Hebrews 8:13; Colossians 2:14)

So, does this mean we can act anyway we want because we are under God’s Grace?
We’re not bound by any law at all?  May it never be!  Paul makes this point clear.

1 Corinthians 9

20: To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;

21: to those who are without law, as without law, though not being with the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.

In other words, Grace is not license to sin freely!

We Believers are under the law of Christ which is the new commandment.
What is the new commandment?

John 13

34: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

When we truly love God and love each other – in faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we fulfill the law of love. 

Think this through. 
If you love someone, would you murder them?
If you love someone, would you steal from them?
If you love someone, would you sleep with their spouse?
If you love someone, would you covet their possessions?
If you truly love God, will you worship something or someone else in His place?
Get the idea?

So are we supposed to obey the Ten Commandments?

We follow many of these same commands: we don’t worship other gods, we don’t murder, we don’t steal, etc.  But we don’t follow them because they’re the Ten Commandments.  We follow them because we follow the way of Christ and his law of love.  To fail to observe these laws would be to fail to love God and each other.   

This is The Law of Christ which is the New Commandment.

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 16, 2013

Romans by the Book (Lesson 24)

Home Bible Study- Lutz, Florida
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 24

Welcome to our Home Bible Study. 
If you’re a new visitor, thanks for taking the time to check us out.
I pray you’ll come back and visit us often.

For all the regular visitors and for those who are members of our Home Bible study in Lutz, Florida, we’re going to get right back to the business of studying the most important book in the N. T. written by the Apostle Paul, in my opinion.

Other people share this opinion, by the way.

Martin Luther wrote in his preface to the Roman letter:
‘This Epistle is the chief book of the New Testament, the purest gospel.  It deserves not only to be known word for word by every Christian, but to be the subject of his meditation day by day, the daily bread of his soul …  The more time one spends in it, the more precious it becomes and the better it appears.’  He spoke of it as ‘a light and way into the whole Scriptures …’

John Calvin said of it, ‘when any one understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scriptures.’

Gordon H. Clark recently wrote of Romans that it is ‘the most profound of all the epistles and perhaps the most important book in the Bible …’

Paul wrote this letter while he was in Corinth during his 3rd missionary journey in the winter of 56-57 AD (approximately).  Some folks have him writing it a year later.
He was on his way to Israel (see Acts 19:21) to deliver an offering that had been taken up among the established gentile churches to give to the poor Jews in Jerusalem.  

You see, the Jews had misinterpreted Jesus’ words and the signs prior to His Ascension.  Consequently, they sold all their personal possessions, pooled their money, and lived off these funds while they waited for Jesus to return – which would be soon by their reckoning (see Acts 4:32-37).  They thought that money, land, and possessions really didn’t mean all that much once Jesus returned?  The Jews would have their King and their Kingdom.  But that didn’t happen.  What did happen was their money ran out and these Jews became impoverished.  Sometime later James, Peter, and John, after extending their hands in friendship, asked Paul and Barnabas to take up a collection from among the gentile churches and bring those offerings back to Jerusalem (see Galatians 2:9-10; Acts 24:17). 

So as they say, that was free for nothing, but it may help you to understand what you are reading as we go along.

Why do I think this is the most important book in the N.T.?

“Romans” is a carefully constructed book with a logical summary of Biblical Theology.

It explains our natural inclination to sin and how this separates us from God
It explains that we cannot make ourselves “right with God.”
It goes on to explain that we cannot earn salvation. 
It explains God’s plan of salvation by Grace, through faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and not by works, or by trying to keep the Law. 
Once a Believer, the Holy Spirit works in each one of us to help us avoid sin and to assist us in our efforts to become more Christ-like i.e. sanctification. 

And there’s so much more…
But we’ll move on.

If you will please open your Bible to the book of Romans, chapter 3, at verse 19 we’ll pick up where we left off in the last lesson.

Romans 3

19: Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are (what) under (the control of) the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God (see Romans 2:12).

20: because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His (God) sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
If no one could be saved (justified) “by the works” of the Law, what was its purpose?

The Apostle Paul addresses this concern in his letter to the Galatians in chapter 3.
Let’s turn there now.

The question is how does the Law work as it applies to salvation today? 

The answer given by the New Testament is that the Mosaic Law was a temporary dispensation.  It was given to Moses by the LORD God for the purpose of ruling Israel, but it was never intended to direct the way His people would relate to God on a permanent basis. 

Galatians 3

19: Why the Law then?  It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until (the word until is a time related word and speaks of some future event – in this case, it speaks of) the seed would come to whom the promise had been made (who was the promise made to?  Abraham and the nation of Israel, right).

In this verse, it’s clear that the Law was a temporary dispensation.  It would last only until “the seed” or the Messiah would come as promised to the nation of Israel.

After Jesus came, the Law would be replaced by something else (something better) because Jesus was the end of the Law. 

What replaced the Law?
Drop down to verse 23.

Galatians 3

23:  But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.

24: Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by (what’s the next word) faith.

25: But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

26: For you are all sons (and daughters) of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

We have our answer.   Faith in Christ Jesus replaced the Law.
More accurately stated, faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ replaced the Law.
Not that the Law at any time had the power to save anyone. 
As verse 24 clearly points out, the Law was meant to lead the Jews to Christ Jesus. 
The Law was temporary and a means of ruling Israel until Jesus came. 
A lot of people miss this important point.  This is why I’m taking the time to teach on it. 
Jesus was the end of the Law.  But what does the book say?

Romans 10

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

So it could be said from the time the Mosaic Law was given to the Israelites, the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the nation was inevitable.  Why?
The Jews were no different than either you or me. 
We’re all sinners, “no one does good, not even one.”
This is what the Bible says. 

But the Old Testament is dotted with prophecies of their failure to obey the LORD God and the consequences for doing so.  It’s a sad part of their history. 

One of the Major Prophets Jeremiah wrote this:

Jeremiah 9

12: Who is the wise man that may understand this?  And who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD has spoken, that he may declare it?  Why is the land ruined, laid waste like a desert, so that no one passes through it?

13: The LORD said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it,

14: but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them.”

15: therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.

16: “I will scatter them among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers have known; and I will send the sword after them until I have annihilated them.”

Due to the sinfulness of the human heart it is inevitable that the Law would bring about this negative effect on the nation of Israel. 

You and I can’t keep the Ten Commandments, if we’re being honest, so let’s not be too hard on the Jews (see Romans 3:19).

Paul writes:

2 Corinthians 3

6: (The Lord Jesus Christ) who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter (of the Law) but of the Spirit; for the letter (does what) kills, but the Spirit gives life.

This verse in plain English is saying the Law can only condemn a person whereas the Spirit gives life to an individual.

The actual stated purposes of the Mosaic Law are:
It reveals God.
It ruled the nation of Israel until Jesus Christ came.
It led the way from the days of the Old Covenant under the Law to the days of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

The Jewish people lived their lives “under the control” of these commandments.
The Bible says the Israelites were enslaved by the Law.
How does this “Good Thing” make slaves out of those who trust in it?

Since the Law made the Jews like children, in the way that it controlled their behavior, and in some cases their thinking, they tried to keep to the letter of the Law, but missed the spirit of the Law. 

The letter of the Law is a matter of physical action, whereas obeying the spirit of the Law involves the attitude of the mind.

Here’s an example: Jesus said merely to refrain from adultery is obedience to the “letter of the Law.”  But to obey the “spirit of the Law, one must also use self-control and not even lust after someone.  For to do so means you’ve already sinned.

Scripture says the Law was meant to make the Jews feel the weight of their sins (see Romans 7:7).  God intended for the Jews to realize the depth of their own depravity under the Law and run to Christ Jesus dependent on His grace.  Instead, like children with a list of rules, the Jews scrambled about trying to please God but in truth this was unachievable on their best day.  Paul understood this to be the worst kind of slavery.

Jesus was “sent” by God the Father; “under the control” of the same Law (commandments), to “redeem” those who were “slaves to the Law.

Galatians 4

4: But when the fullness of the time came (which means: according to God’s time table) God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the (what’s the next word) Law (Law and not Grace. 

(I’ve said this many times but it bears repeating; Christianity did not begin with the birth of the baby Jesus and it certainly did not begin at Matthew 1:1, as some people teach.  Jesus was born under the Law; read what the book says),

5: so that He might redeem (buy back) those who were under the Law (now think – who is Paul referring to?  What people were “under” the Law?  The Jews were of course) that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:1-3 - Paul gives us a portrait of a little Jewish boy in a wealthy home. 
This child is the legal heir and future master of the entire estate.  But as long as he is a child, his life is just like that of a slave.  He is subject to guardians and trustees.  They supervise him, discipline him, and control him.  They regulate his behavior.  He is under their authority until the time set by his father, when he will be free from their control and then enjoy his full rights as heir and master of the family estate.

Paul clearly constructed this illustration to dramatize what life was like under the supervision of the Law.  It demonstrates that the Jewish people, the rightful heirs of God’s promises to Abraham, experienced a certain kind of slavery for a time while under the Law (see Galatians 3:23; 3:25).   Jesus (the Messiah) was the intended end of the Law.  But the Jews could not/would not see this Truth so God the Father turned His attention to the Gentiles (see Acts 9).

However, this illustration Paul presents is a positive image.
Even though this child is subject to guardians and trustees, he is still loved by his father. When he reaches the age of maturity, he will be the heir of his father’s estate. 

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved