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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 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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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Romans by the Book (Lesson 78)

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 78

Welcome back to Home Bible Study one and all.

I’ve always believed that people “want to hear the truth and they can handle it…,” it really doesn’t matter the form of communication or the topic of discussion.  When I was interviewed for my first Bible teaching position many years ago, I told the gentleman over lunch that I had reservations and I would need some time to think it over.   I took a couple of days to consider his offer.  I was almost certain my answer was going to be no; thank you, but for two items I could not overlook and these eventually influenced my decision.  I was being given the opportunity to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church and teach His Truths to students in grades 1-12 and adults - honestly.

If you were aware of my background (childhood), this would make more sense to you; but we’re not going there.  Suffice to say I was “misled” by the clergy for many years.
I couldn’t get straight answers then and it’s not much different today.
Truth is getting harder to come by.  Everyone seems to have their version of it.

Case in point:  I posted a news article to my Facebook page about the boy who said he died and went to heaven and then returned.  The book titled:  The boy who came back from heaven” is based on Alex’s story.  The youngster now admits it was a “lie.”  Tyndale House first published this book in 2010 but in light of this declaration has announced it will stop selling the book and they are taking it out of print.  LifeWay bookstores are taking it off their shelves.

People, not just Believers, are hungry for Truth because they receive a steady diet of falsehoods from a multitude of sources.   There has been a disintegration of truth and trust in our culture to such an extent that lying has become the accepted “norm.”  Today people feel it’s easier to lie than to tell the truth.

I’ve said this many times, and I’ll keep on saying it until the Lord hauls me out of here:

The only source of Divine Truth in this world is the Bible.
To dismiss the Bible is to dismiss God Himself.

Thanks for joining us today.

Romans 9-11 are parenthetical chapters.  Paul begins by expressing deep sorrow and concern for his brethren, who are perishing, because they have failed to understand and believe in what God is currently doing in this current dispensation (Divine ordering or His management of human affairs on earth) and are vehemently resisting his teaching. 

In Romans chapter 9 Paul reviews Israel’s past, after his opening remarks.

I trust you have your Bible with you and it’s open to Romans chapter 9 at verse 19. 

Let’s read some Scripture together.

Romans 9

19: You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault?  For who resists His will?”

20: On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?  The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?

21: Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

Paul has already dealt with this same argument back in chapter 3 of this letter.  We’re going there now to review what he said because it will help us understand just how stubborn and resistant to his teaching these Israelites actually were. 

Please flip back to Romans 3:1 – Paul begins with this question:  Then what advantage has the Jew... (Skip to verse 5).  But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?  The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He?  (I am speaking in human terms.)  May it never be!  For otherwise, how will God judge the world?  (Romans 3:5-6)

As a side note, verses 19-21 have been adopted by some to demonstrate their version of “predestination” or “God’s Election.”  They say these verses prove that God’s “creates” some people who are destined for salvation while others are forsaken.  In other words, salvation is NOT up to the individual.  God has preordained who will and who will not be saved.    

Nothing could be further from the Truth!  When teaching or preaching Scripture, it all must be in harmony from Genesis to Revelation– like a symphony orchestra playing the same sheet music, in unison.  The conductor would not allow the string section to suddenly begin playing their own musical selection while the orchestra continued to play Fur Elise.  The orchestra would be out of harmony.  This is exactly what happens when you try to bring imbalanced Bible teaching, or a person’s own version of what the Bible says into the mix…this too causes the Scriptures to be out of sync.  Furthermore, it causes confusion and disruption within the Body of Christ.  Know this:  the Creator God is a God of order and not confusion!

The objection which arises in verse 19 presumes, incorrectly, that God holds people accountable for things over which they have no control: 

Is God unjust when He hardens the heart of persistently proud people? 
Is God unjust in condemning the obstinate sinner who refuses His gift of grace? 

The critic in v19 presumes he has no control over his behavior and attitude. 
I hear this same protest echoed in the media on a regular basis where people blame their misbehavior or their life of crime on the environment, their past, on other people, or anything other than taking personal responsibility for their own actions. 

Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”  Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”  (John 9:39-41).

The point Paul is making is this, if people were in fact ignorant, (blind) to their sins, they would not be guilty.  If people were like pottery, or puppets (inanimate objects) having no will of their own, they would not be guilty either. 

But the Truth is the Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God, since God is Spirit, having no physical form, this means we are made up of spirit, soul, and a body, which is basically a “tent” to house the spirit and the soul   Our bodies are mortal which means they decay, whereas our spirit and soul are eternal; our soul is made up of mind, will, and emotions, therefore we are not inanimate objects (1 Corinthians 5:1, 1 Corinthians 15:50; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

We all know that to hold someone accountable for things over which they have no control is unjust.  So Paul approaches the argument in this way.  He says, “OK, let’s say you’re pottery, or only a puppet.  If that’s the case what’s your problem?  Pottery does not answer back to its maker.  The fact that you are talking back to God demonstrates that you’re not an inanimate object but that you have a conscience, knowledge, a mind, and free will; therefore your argument doesn’t hold water.  But if you argue that you are mere pottery (i.e. you have no control over the things you do), isn’t it true that the potter has the right to make any kind of pottery He chooses (Job 38-41)? 

These Israelites were attempting to say they had no control over their behavior, for it was His will, or “He made me this way.” 

A friend of mine used this same argument years ago in our discussion.  She told me God made her a lesbian and she had no “control” over the situation.  She said, “Since God made me this way, I may as well go with it.”  I spent a good deal of time showing her God’s view of homosexuality so it was a certainty He did not bring her into this world “a lesbian.”  But she dismissed all my comments and God’s Word with a shrug of her shoulders. 

I knew my friend.  She had a troubled past, involving her step-father.   She had trust and deep-seated anger issues towards men after this and that’s as much as I’m going to say.  She used this argument to soothe her conscience and to still the Bible Truths ringing in her head.  My friend convinced herself that God would not “judge” her for her sinful lifestyle because He made her a “lesbian.”  She ran this lie over and over again in her mind until it became the truth, from her perspective.  Eventually, she left our church and joined a group who believed homosexuality was acceptable behavior (2 Timothy 4:3-4).     

Basically, these Israelites confronting Paul were citing this same excuse!  But a person can’t really invoke arguments of injustice if their premise is that they are merely a “pawn” in God’s game of life.  Issues of injustice don’t come into play when it comes to punishing inanimate objects.

Romans 9

22: What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

23: And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

24: even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Verse 22 begs the question, “Who are the objects of God’s wrath?”
The answer is everyone!  Our Apostle Paul writes, Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by (what) nature children of wrath, even as the rest (Ephesians 2:3).

When you hear the Gospel of Grace and believe it, you are no longer an “object of wrath” but an “object of God’s mercy” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).   

Please turn to Ephesians, chapter 2.

Ephesians 2

4: But God, being rich in (what) mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

5: even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Skip to verse 8.

8: For by grace you have been saved through faith (plus nothing else);

The following Bible verse appears at the top of everyone of my Bible lessons because I want everyone to know the Truth, This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

I pray you can see that this verse is in “harmony” with all of Scripture. 
I have another verse in mind that’s says pretty much the same thing. 

Please go to 2 Peter, chapter 3.

2 Peter 3

9: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is (what) patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Our Apostle Paul delivers this thought provoking remark to the critics in his audience and to the skeptics of today:  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  (Romans 2:4)

Because each individual has free will (the ability to choose) sometimes God’s patience leads them to repentance/salvation but the sad truth is not everyone answers His call.  Paul writes:  It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would (do what exactly) believe in Him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

Paul isn’t saying he’s the foremost (greatest) sinner who ever lived before he found (God’s) mercy (Acts 9). He’s saying he’s the first person God saved by grace (alone). 

Whether Jew or Gentile, the great patience the Lord Jesus Christ has shown toward us Believers who have been led to salvation will be the theme of our eternal praise to Him,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you (and for me), who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

(To be continued)

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