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Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 50

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

[Wonderful explanations!]


Sanctification: The Wrong Way by Works of the Law

Perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of chapter seven is the occurrence of those personal pronouns, which occur over and over again in the chapter. From verse seven to the end of the chapter, the personal pronoun "I" occurs thirty times! The personal pronoun "me" occurs twelve times; the personal pronoun "my" occurs four times; and "myself", once. Forty-seven times the personal pronoun occurs in nineteen verses. That is the picture of the defeated Christian, the Christian who has failed to reckon the "I" to be dead and has not yet experienced Galatians 2:20. As long as a person is contented to talk about "I," "my", "me," and "myself," utter defeat is all that he will meet in the course of life. It is most significant that this chapter which displays the most utter human defeat combines it with a persistent use of the personal pronoun.

The first verse of chapter 7 strikes the keynote of the chapter: "Know ye not, brethren, how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?" Here are the divisions of the chapter: 1. law and the Christian (7?1-6); 2. law and sin (7:7:13); 3. law and the carnal man (7:14-25). There is a very close, logical connection between these three divisions. The first three verses set forth an established fact: the believer is dead to the law; he is through with the law forever!

Out of the fifth verse a question arises. "The sinful  passions which were through the law", Paul says. If the inclination to sin comes from the law, then isn't the law something sinful? Paul answers that question in the second division by affirming that the law is holy. Look at the twelfth verse for a clear statement of this fact.

But another question will emerge right here. If the law is holy, then why cannot the law make the Christian holy? The answer follows logically, "We know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal" (7:14), and that is why a good and holy law cannot make a person holy. Not because there is anything the matter with the law, but because the person is "carnal."

Thus, an established fact is laid down in the first division; and then the two other sections answer two questions that arise out of that fact.

Law and the Christian

"The law hath dominion over a man as long as he lives." This is a generally accepted fact concerning the laws of men, but ignored in relation to the law of God. Paul is talking to those Christians who have failed to account themselves dead back there at the time of faith. Here is a fellow who has said, "No." This man has failed to see it; he is still talking about "I", what "I can do." He still lives as the old self and has not reckoned himself to be dead with Christ. Now Paul says, "Don't you know that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?"

Verses 2 and 3 give an illustration from the law itself. Paul takes an illustration from the law to prove that the Christian is not under the law. These two verses teach that the woman who has a husband is bound by law to the husband as long as  he lives; but if the husband dies, she is discharged from the law of her husband. If he is not dead, and she marries another, she will be called an adulteress, and that word "called" means publicly branded. But if the husband dies, she is free from the law.

Verses 4 to 6 make the application. A man is bound to the law for life, just as the woman was bound to her husband. But through the death of Christ, the man was made dead to the law. It looks as if Paul has mixed up his illustration. In the first instance it was the husband who died. Now Paul says, "Ye are dead." But this is not an analogy, which corresponds in every point; it is an illustration. Paul wanted to establish the fact that the marriage bond cannot be broken except by death. It does not matter who dies. He could not say that the law dies. The law of God never dies. The Jews would have had Paul in a moment, had he said the law died. He says that we were made dead through the death of Christ. We died with Him, and that broke the relationship. That is the application. 

But that is not the end. To paraphrase Paul, "You died to the law in order that you should be joined to another, that is, Him who was raised from the dead, so that you might be fruitful to God." And so, while some say this is a dangerous doctrine, that of being dead to the law, do not forget that there are two things that go together: first, freedom from the law; second, union with Christ. And that combination makes it safe!! God cuts us loose from the law and then joins us to Jesus Christ; and that union insures that we shall bring forth fruit to God, and not to sin, as before. 

"Now we have been discharged [or delivered] from the law, having died to that wherein we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter" (7:6). The word "spirit" should be capitalized, for it is the Holy Spirit.

This, then, is the figure Paul draws in the first six verses. First of all, though we were joined to the law, having died in Christ broke that relationship. While joined to the law, you brought forth "fruit unto death," which is the issue of that marriage; but when joined to Him who is raised from the dead, you produced "fruit unto God."

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 51 - "The Law and Sin")


Patiently Wait for God Alone

Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For he is the one who gives me confidence. — Ps 62:5 
Our too general neglect of looking for answers to what we ask, shows how little we are in earnest in our petitions. A husbandman is not content without the harvest; a marksman will observe whether the ball hits the target; a physician watches the effect of the medicine which he gives; and shall the Christian be careless about the effect of his labor?
Every prayer of the Christian, made in faith, according to the will of God, for which God has promised, offered up in the name of Jesus Christ, and under the influence of the Spirit, whether for temporal or for spiritual blessings, is, or will be, fully answered.
God always answers the general design and intention of His people’s prayers, in doing that which, all things considered, is most for His own glory and their spiritual and eternal welfare. As we never find that Jesus Christ rejected a single supplicant who came to Him for mercy, so we believe that no prayer made in His name will be in vain.
The answer to prayer may be approaching, though we discern not its coming. The seed that lies under ground in winter is taking root in order to a spring and harvest, though it appears not above ground, but seems dead and lost.
—Bickersteth
Delayed answers to prayer are not only trials of faith, but they give us opportunities of honoring God by our steadfast confidence in Him under apparent repulses.
—C. H. Spurgeon
~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 49

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Sanctification: The Wrong Way by Works of the Law (Romans 7:1-25)

However difficult this seventh chapter of Romans may be, no trouble will be encountered whatever if we have actually mastered what the sixth chapter has taught.  In the sixth chapter, God gives us the right way to be sanctified, and in the seventh chapter He gives us the wrong way. Of course, God has a purpose in this chapter. But why should we not learn the right way first? And the question is, have we learned it? Those three key words in Romans are crucial: know, reckon, yield.

One would think that these key words would be sufficient on this whole subject, that after He has given us the right way, what further need for anything else to be taught on this subject? Human nature is a perverse thing. The old nature loves to "do" things. It loves to depend upon its own works. It loves to merit what it receives. Human nature loves to trust God. Human nature, after it know the right way, will very often take the wrong way; ans so it is not surprising that sometimes the very man who has been brought face to face with Jesus Christ and has discovered that there is no righteousness or justification in the law, and has settled in the heart that he had to come to Christ and receive righteousness  by faith alone - that even then, that very same person will then sometimes try to go back to law for holiness!

God has given this chapter of Romans to warn against acting in such a way. If we are not satisfied to get our holiness and sanctification just as we got our justification, trusting in Jesus, knowing that we died with Christ, reckoning it to be so, yielding ourselves to Him - if we are  not satisfied with that, then this chapter is for us.

There has been a terrific controversy raging in Christendom over this chapter and over this question: was the apostle Paul converted or unconverted when he wrote the experiences recorded in the seventh chapter of Romans, when he said, "I am carnal"? Was he converted or not? I am inclined to believe he was converted, and that we have here a picture of a saved man trying to be holy by keeping the law. But the whole question as to whether he was converted or unconverted is immaterial and unimportant. it does not make any difference which view we take, for God did not introduce this chapter to give us a psychological analysis of either the sinner or the believer, to satisfy our curiosity. God wrote this chapter to warn men and women whether believers or unbelievers. He wrote this chapter to teach all men that there is NO holiness by works of the law. Paul was writing from the standpoint of a converted man, who has tried sincerely and earnestly to attain holiness in life and break the power of sin by keeping the law.

There is one view of this chapter that is terribly mistaken, and that view is the one that says what we find in here is the Christian's normal experience. That is the devil's own method. Some people in churches every Lord's Day stand up and recite, "O, Lord, we have done those things we ought not to have done, and have left undone those things we ought not to have done, and have left undone those things which we should have done," and sit down very well satisfied with themselves, as if they had done something very virtuous.

If you ever must say that (and, of course, a great many of us do sometimes); if you are meeting defeat in your life (for that is what it is in this chapter), then at least be concerned enough about your defeat and your lack of victory to cry with Paul, "O, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" No one ought to repeat that as a litany without the cry of despair that the apostle Paul uttered when he said it. He certainly did not say it unconcernedly.

No Christian need ever enter into the experience that is recorded here in the seventh chapter of Romans, if he only receives with the heart what the sixth chapter has to teach him. But if we cannot know what God has done for us in Christ; if we fail to reckon it t be true; if we fail to yield ourselves to God - then there is nothing for us but the dreary, depressing, desperate experience which we find in the seventh chapter. And it is for such that God has caused it to be recorded.

Notice several outstanding characteristics in this chapter. The sixth and seventh chapters will be considered together in contrast and comparison.

"Sin shall not have dominion over you:for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (6:14). In that verse is the key to these two chapters, for the sixth chapter deals with the first half: "Sin shall not have dominion over you." The last half, "You are not under the law," is dealt with in the seventh chapter. The sixth chapter is about the believer and sin, and the seventh is about the believer and the law.

Following those two thoughts, you will discover that the key word of the sixth chapter is "sin." The word "sin" occurs seventeen times in the sixth chapter. In the seventh chapter the key word becomes "law", occurring eighteen times. The two are very closely related - sin and law. Paul says, "The strength of sin is the law" (1 Co. 15:56).

To contrast or compare these two chapters, read the first six verses in each. The first six verses of the sixth chapter teach that we died with Christ and are dead to sin; the seventh chapter, that we died with Christ and therefore are dead to the law.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 50)

God Hath Made Me to Laugh

Genesis 21:6

And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
 
It was far above the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that the aged Sarah should be honored with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and He is mine for ever. This day will I lift up psalms of triumph unto the Lord who has remembered my low estate, for "my heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in Thy salvation." I would have all those that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high, laugh for joy with me. I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of His society. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with excess of rapture, and all her friends laughed with her; and thou, my soul, look on thy Jesus, and bid heaven and earth unite in thy joy unspeakable.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 48

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Sanctification: The Right Way of Union with Christ

Reckon

"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (6:11). We are to "know" this truth and then continually, second by second, moment by moment, hour after hour, day after day, we are to "reckon" it to be so! Don't ever lose sight of it. Don't doubt it! Don't let the devil say, "You did not die back there." You did die - you were buried with Him, raised with Him. That is the secret of a holy life. God declares it so, now "reckon" it to be so.

Whenever a young man who may be a member of an Orthodox Jewish family becomes a Christian, the father says, "This son is to me dead." He turns him out of his house. He never speaks to him again. If friends come in and ask about his son, he says, "My son is dead,: He is not actually dead, but the father considers that boy as dead. In the same sense, even though the old self is still alive, God says, "Reckon ye your selves to be dead unto sin."

It is like an old associate who exercised terrible influence  over you. There is only one way to get liberty. Break it off once for all. Call him in and say, "You have exercised a powerful influence over me. From now on, it is to be as if I had died."

Yield

"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin," but, on the other hand, "Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
That word "instruments" is a military term. It would be better translated by the word "weapons." Your hands, your feet, your tongue - the members of your body - they are weapons in "the good fight." "Now," Paul says, "don't take your weapons and give them to the enemy." It would be foolish if a man should hand over his arms to his enemy. But that is exactly what happens, for instance, when a person takes the tongue, which ought to be used as a weapon of righteousness, and uses it to wound somebody.

From the original Greek a thought unfolds out of this passage. It starts out with the words, "Neither yield," and the idea is a continuous yielding. "Do not yield all the time your members - day after day, hour after hour - giving up your weapons to sin, your enemy."

The thought goes on to imply once for all yield; here it is a different tense. At one great crisis point in your life, once for all yield to God. The Christian ought to come to this place where he says, "Lord, I yield once for all."

And then he closes with a promise (Romans 6:14). If we know these things - if we reckon these things to be so - if we yield our members unto God - them remember this: "Sin shall not have dominion over you." Why? Because you are not under the law, but under grace. Some people falsely say that sin will have dominion over you if you come out from under the law. Paul says the opposite: "sin shall not have dominion over you." Paul says about sin and law (1 Co. 15:56): "The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." It is the grace of God that breaks the power of sin. The law cannot do it. The reason that sin shall not have dominion is because you are under grace and not under law.

Up to this point we have dealt with the fact of continuance in sin. Somebody is bound to say, "Well, all right, I won't continue in sin. I can see that now. But surely it won't hurt if I drop into sin once in a while." So Paul deals with that. Shall we commit even an act of sin? Is it not permissible to drop into sin once in a while because we are not under law? Paul's answer: "God forbid!"

He is going to show in this whole section from now on that no man can serve two masters. He will either serve sin or he will serve righteousness. He will either serve satan or he will serve God.

There is one word that occurs eight times in this section. It is the word "servant." That is the key word of this passage.

Paul starts with verse 16. "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?" In other words, if you start to obey sin, you are thereby admitting the mastership of sin, and your very confession of Christ said, "you are my Lord and master." You cannot, therefore, if you are a Christian, start to obey sin without saying, "Christ is not my master. Sin is my master."

It is simply a development of Christ's own words: "No man can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). Notice what Paul says (17-18). "Being then made free from sin." How were we made free from sin? We died to it. Therefore, sin is no longer our master.

We have not only died, but we have risen from the dead and now have a new life and a new master. That master is Christ and righteousness. So he says, "You have become the servants of righteousness." Somebody might say, "Is Christianity slavery?" Paul says, "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh." That is, "Christianity is not really slavery, but I have used that term in order that you might understand."

Verse 20 declares, "When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free  from righteousness." There was a time in your lie when you were a servant of sin, and righteousness had nothing to do with you. Now turn it around. Once you are free from sin, just the opposite is true. When you are the servant of righteousness, you have nothing to do with sin. You are free from it!

Verse 22 goes further and insists, "You have your fruit." You have something else also, namely, "the end." It is wonderful that you can have "the end" before you get there. The old way was explained this way: "if you are good, holy, and do not fall, someday, when you come to the end, God will give you eternal life." But Paul says if you die with Christ, if you reckon it to be so, you not only have the "fruit unto holiness," but you have the end right now.

Paul has shown us how to deal with sin in our lives. We are first to know that we died with Christ. Second, we are to reckon that thing to be so, never surrendering for a moment. Third, we are to yield our members. Then we are to remember that no man can serve two masters.

These great facts will grip the heart of a true believer and lead him in the paths of righteousness. But there may be among the professed people of God some that are not born of God. There are always some people who have never really bowed the knee to Jesus Christ; people who profess to be His but who have never obeyed Him and thus have never been born of God.

While all these truths may work in the lives of those who are truly saved, there may be some who are merely professed Christians who say, "Oh, we are saved, and it does not matter what we do." So Paul closes with a very solemn warning: "For the wages of sin is death" (6:23). Let no man take the grace of God and turn it into license. Let no man go in in sin (and, by the way, the true Christian cannot continue in sin). Therefore, should some man who is professing to be a Christian continue in sin, let him remember that "the wages of sin is death" and there has been no reduction in those wages!

But for such a man there is hope. "But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (6:23). There are two servitudes. If you serve sin, you will be paid wages. You will get just exactly what is coming to you. If you serve God, He cannot pay you any wages. You do not deserve any. But He does have a gift, that of everlasting life!

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 49 - Sanctification: The Wrong Way by Works of the Law")

Coming to the End of Ourselves

I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act. (Revelation 3:19 GWT)

There is the big question which is always confronting us as to why is it that some leap into the light and go on, and others do not, but always lag behind, and never seem to see any more? Is it that there is a selectiveness on the part of God, a kind of elect of the elect that He has, is it that He has favorites? I do not think so. I think a great part of the answer lies here, namely, in what God finds He has to deal with, whether people mean business with Him or not, whether He has a clear way or not, whether the ground is occupied or not already by that which is an obstruction to Him. I do not think anybody will fail to get all the light the Lord wants them to have if they really do mean business with God. The Holy Spirit knows us. He looks right deep down into our hearts and knows whether we mean business. He sees exactly what there is to hinder Him and how far He can go; for the Lord is not going to coerce anyone.

If we are taken up with ourselves, occupied with ourselves, circling round ourselves, centering in ourselves, then the Holy Spirit has not a chance. We have to come to an end of ourselves. That is the trouble with so many. They have got a self-complex set up, and all the time it is a continuous going round in a circle and coming back to the same point at which they started, and it is all round themselves, and they are wearing themselves out. Before long they are going to have an awful crash that involves all that for which they are supposed to stand and represent for the Lord, and it will come down with them. The Holy Spirit has not a clear way. We have to get out of the way, so far as this self-occupation is concerned, if we are going to move straight on, and to go on. He knows exactly where we are, whether we are so tied up in them that we are not open to the Lord to consider any further light at all. "We have got it all, or our people with whom we a re associated have got it all, and we are a part of that!" You know what I mean. The Holy Spirit cannot do much with folk who are in a position like that; and He knows. His attitude is, "It is no use, I cannot do much there, they are too tied up." But, if we are prepared to put everything into the water, then the Lord can go on and get a clear way.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 47

A Study of the Epistles to the Romans

Sanctification: The Right Way of Union with Christ

Let us now turn to the meaning of these three words [know (or knowing); reckon; and yield]  in relation to the problem of the power of sin in the believer's life.

Know

First, we must know. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death" (6:3-4) The article "the" is before the word "death" in the original Greek. It is "the death," not a death of our own. It is the death of the Son of God.  "That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted [bodily united] together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" (6:4-5).

If we are to know victory over sin in our lives, we must first of all know that we died with Christ on the Cross. When He died, we died; when He was buried, we were buried (in the mind of God). This passage does not discuss water baptism, only insofar as water baptism stands behind as a symbol of the thing he is talking about here. Paul is talking about the spiritual reality: when Christ died, we died; and when we believe, He baptizes us by the operation the the Spirit of God immersing us into the body of Christ.

"Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him" (v. 6). And yet we talk about "crucifying the old man." Don't we? "The old man" HAS been crucified, if you are a Christian. It stirs up our pride for us to try to do something by "crucifying the flesh of the old man." But Christ has already gotten the victory! The "old man" means the old self; what we were in Adam. That "old man" was crucified with Christ at the Cross, and the task is finished in the mind of God. (see also Galatians 2:20).

When we exercised faith in Christ, we entered into that crucifixion. "That the body of sin be destroyed." Does the word "destroy" mean annihilation? No. Every one of us knows that although that "old man is crucified with Christ," there is still sin with us. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). Sin is still there. Therefore the word "destroy" does not mean annihilation, but what it does mean is this: "That the body of sin might be made of none effect, rendered powerless." The Greek word here gives the idea of sin being annulled, or rendered inoperative.

"The body of sin" - what is that? It is the body we have, in which sin finds an instrument: the tongue, the hands, the mind. Sin does not find its source in the body. Sin fins its source in the will, but uses the body as an instrument. Because we were crucified with Christ the body of sin is actually powerless in our lives. "That henceforth we shall not serve sin, for he that is dead is freed from sin" (v. 6). A corpse is in view. It does not matter how great a sinner that corpse was, it is now free forever. We are not to doubt the transaction back there when we died with Him. "He that is dead is freed from sin." You cannot take a man that is dead and punish him anymore. When we died back at the Cross with Christ, the question was settled. The penalty was paid. Sin has nothing more to do with us, because we are dead to it. "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." Death is past and believers are now alive in Christ and should conduct themselves as dead to the past.

"Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more? (v. 9). If He does not die anymore, do we? Certainly not. Some people say we can, but we died with Him, were buried with Him, raised with Him. "He dieth no more!" So we die no more. That is security! "Death hath no more dominion over Him." When He went to the Cross, He paid the debt of sin in full. And when the debt is paid in full, the creditor has no more power over the debtor. We are in Him, therefore death hath no more dominion over us.

Verse 10 sums up the matter in just a few words. First of all, when Christ died, we died. When we died back there with Him, our old self was crucified. Second, being identified with Him, we are risen from the dead, to die no more!

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 48 - "Reckon")

More Than Imaginable


And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25

Verse 25 is the last verse in the Gospel of John, and what a great way to end this wonderful book. John is basically saying that it would be impossible to record every single one of the "things" that Jesus did while here on earth. John only knew Jesus for three years! My mind struggles to comprehend such amazing works but my heart rejoices in knowing that Jesus is that awesome. Jesus spent three years in full-time ministry, and from studying the Gospels, it is clear that He was all about His Father's business. Jesus spent His time doing the things He was sent to do. Jesus is our only true example of living a life sold out to God. Everything He did had one main purpose: to glorify His Father. One cannot glorify God and live a selfish life at the same time.

Often people will ask us questions that involve God's will for their lives; they want to know how to be used by God, they want to make sure that they are doing His will and pleasing Him. How can they be sure they are doing all God wants? We hear these questions and concerns frequently from people who truly desire to fulfill the calling God has on their lives. Many times, however, people are looking for a more awe-inspiring, spiritual answer than we can give. The answers are all in the Bible. God's Word is our living handbook for how to please God and live for Him. Once we learn of His ways, then we begin to learn how to apply His ways to our lives. Just studying the Gospel of John gives us more revelations of who Jesus is and what He did than we can even fully grasp. The world could not contain the books it would take to write everything down. Think about the magnitude of that statement.

For us today, there are a couple of things we need to take from this verse. First and foremost, we must know that Jesus was and is God. He was not just a good man who had a powerful ministry. No man could do what He did. Only God could do miracles beyond what the world could even record. Secondly, for us to do the things God has called us to while here on earth, we must learn from our Teacher. Jesus demonstrated for us how to live a life completely sold out to God. And He has given us His Holy Spirit to teach, lead and guide us today to live a life pleasing to God and in the center of His will. Start reading the Gospel of John today and commit to reading it from beginning to end. You will begin to get a greater understanding of what verse 25 is really saying. Pray that you fall in love with the Lord Jesus and that you glorify His name with your life.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 46

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Sanctification: The Right Way of Union with Christ

While the actual word "sanctification" does not occur in the KJV, it is in the ASV at verse 19. The Greek word means sanctification and has been rendered by the word "holiness." It appears again in verse 22: "you have your fruit unto holiness." Perhaps it may properly be said that the word in the Greek is more correctly translated by the word "sanctification". At any rate, this word occurs for the first time in the book of Romans, appearing twice in the sixth chapter.

What shall be done with the sinner in relation to the penalty for sin is the first problem God faced in saving men. The next problem concerned the power and pollution of sin that dominates his life. First of all, how does God deal with the sinner and his sin? Justification is the answer. God declares him to be righteous, and treats him as such. Second, after a man is justified, he discovers that he has a sin nature which gives rise to sinful acts, that aspect of the work of God which deals with the power and pollution of sin.

Justification deals with the guilt of sin. When a man sins, he is guilty and therefore he deserves to be punished. In justification, God declares that man righteous, by virtue of the death of Christ in his behalf. By that act He removed the guilt forever. Because Christ died in his stead, the sinner goes free. Thus justification is the declarative act of God. Justification does not make man righteous. It never means that. It means that God declares him to be righteous. God weighs the guilt, gets rid of it, and the sinner gets immunity from punishment.

What does sanctification do? In sanctification, God takes that same man (still a sinner, but also a justified man) and makes him holy. In sanctification, God deals with something that is actual, the power of sin. Whereas justification deals with the guilt of sin, sanctification deals with the power of sin.

Justification cannot be separated from sanctification, except for the purpose of study. No man can experience sanctification unless he has first been justified in the sight of God. Our human minds can only deal with one aspect at a time, but God never works that way. Justification and sanctification are two aspects of the one work of God in saving men.

"Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (5:20). No matter how great the sin was, grace was greater than the sin. The worst sinner in the world can find grace sufficient.

That is Paul's conclusion to the section on justification, that wherever sin appears, grace came to the rescue in an even greater measure an covered it. "Grace did much more abound." It superabounded! Someone will say, "then if that is the case, it does not matter how much we sin. If our sin, no matter how great it is, only causes us to see that the grace of God is greater than our sin, let us go on and sin in order that we may see more of the grace of God." On the other hand, there are those who say, "The doctrine of justification is a dangerous doctrine. If you teach that, you will have a sinning people. People will say, 'Then sin does not matter,' and they will go on in their sin."

Paul met this first charge that was brought against the doctrine of gratuitous justification. "They will rejoice in sin because it only magnifies the grace of God." Paul does not hedge the slightest bit. He does not say, "Well, I know that I said a man is justified apart from works and character, and after all, that is not quite it. He has to be good, or he will go to hell." Paul will not retreat one inch from what he said in chapters 4 and 5. He has insisted that believers are "justified freely," that 'by grace ye are saved." But now he shows that once justification has been received, sanctification follows logically and naturally.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" (6:1). Paul anticipates the very thing that men will protest. If, no matter how great sin is, grace is greater, if that is the case, what shall be our response? Shall we say that we shall continue in sin? That is the first question.

In verse 15 there is another question which must be faced: "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace?" There is the other question.

Those two questions indicate the contents of this chapter and give the divisions. We might paraphrase them like this, "Shall we continue in sin in order that grace may abound, or shall we sin because grace does abound?"

Everything between the first verse and the fifteenth verse is in answer to the first question; everything from the fifteenth verse to the end answers the second question. There are two distinct phases - two aspects of sin: 1. one is continuance in sin - "Shall we continue in sin?"; 2. the other is committing single acts of sin - "Shall we commit sin?"

Here is a comprehensive view of the chapter before the actual exposition of it.

In considering verses 1-14, the first question is "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" What, in two words, is Paul's answer to that? "God forbid!" The very thought of it is abhorrent to him.

Then he asks a question to show how impossible it is to do it. It is impossible for a Christian to continue in sin, which is implied in this question: "God forbid. We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?" (6:2). And, of course, if we died, we are dead. How shall we continue in sin if we died to sin? There is no answer to that. Paul does not attempt to answer it. It is an impossibility.

There are two views that fall short of the truth in dealing with sanctification. One view is that there is nothing at all in the Cross of Christ that sanctifies, so when dealing with the question of the Christian sinning, an attempt is made to place the Christian back under the law. But this is contrary to the Word of God.

The other view admits that believers come short and do not live the high type of Christian life they should. So mysticism is advocated. The proponents of this view are earnest and sincere, and they talk about "dying to self." But the Bible does not teach this either. They say, "We must die to sin." But the Bible does not teach this. What does the Bible teach? The Bible teaches that we have died to sin. 

This is not a quibble over words. The death of the believer is a thing that is in the past. It is a transaction that is complete, and what God wants us to do is to believe it and not try to do again something that has already been done Of course, there is a sense in which we must appropriate what has been done and make it practical in our lives. But if we did not learn anything else in this study, let us remember that the Christian has died to sin.

Confirming the teaching of this verse is 1 John 3:9: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." The verb "sin" means to continue in a course of sin. it does not mean committing an act of sin: It is an utter impossibility. God will break it off sometime.

How can a dead man sin? There is not a Christian who does not face this problem. You know you do things that are wrong. You know you do not have victory over the sin in your life. This is a serious problem: as we have been released from the guilt of sin, how can we be released from the power of sin? There is a way. Here are three key words: 1. know, or knowing (vv. 3, 6, 9); 2. reckon (v. 11); yield (v. 13).

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 47)

When the Winds Blew and the Rains Fell

In everything ye are enriched by him (1 Cor. 1:5).

Have you ever seen men and women whom some disaster drove to a great act of prayer, and by and by the disaster was forgotten, but the sweetness of religion remained and warmed their souls?
So have I seen a storm in later spring; and all was black, save where the lightning tore the cloud with thundering rent.
The winds blew and the rains fell, as though heaven had opened its windows. What a devastation there was! Not a spider’s web that was out of doors escaped the storm, which tore up even the strong-branched oak.
But ere long the lightning had gone by, the thunder was spent and silent, the rain was over, the western wind came up with its sweet breath, the clouds were chased away, and the retreating storm threw a scarf of rainbows over her fair shoulders and resplendent neck, and looked back and smiled, and so withdrew and passed out of sight.
But for weeks long the fields held up their bands full of ambrosial flowers, and all the summer through the grass was greener, the brooks were fuller, and the trees cast a more umbrageous shade, because the storm passed by–though all the rest of the earth had long ago forgotten the storm, its rainbows and its rain.
–Theodore Parker
God may not give us an easy journey to the Promised Land, but He will give us a safe one.
–Bonar
It was a storm that occasioned the discovery of the gold mines of India. Hath not a storm driven some to the discovery of the richer mines of the love of God in Christ?
Is it raining, little flower?
Be glad of rain;
Too much sun would wither thee;
‘Twill shine again.
The clouds are very black, ’tis true;
But just behind them shines the blue.
Art thou weary, tender heart?
Be glad of pain:
In sorrow sweetest virtues grow,
As flowers in rain.
God watches, and thou wilt have sun,
When clouds their perfect work have done.
–Lucy Larcom
~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 45

Salvation: Condemnation in Adam, Justification in Christ

The apostle says death reigned from Adam to Moses. That depressing fifth chapter of Genesis gives the book of the generations of Adam. It is the record of an endless funeral train interspersed with a hopeless refrain. "And he died ... and he died ... and he died." Then a little light breaks through: "Enoch walked with God and he was not." But the funeral train moves on again and Methuselah was nine hundred and sixty-nine years old, "and he died." "Death reigned from Adam until Moses." It reigned! And it still reigns!

"It reigned even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression." Who were they? How did Adam sin?  Adam knew God's commandment. He had a positive commandment and he broke it. There were children then just as there are today. Over children who had never known the commandment, over mentally deficient ones who never understood the commandment of God - death reigned even over them. Where is the man who dares to deny that the human race is somehow tied up with Adam and his sin? Let him explain why babies die before they come to the age of accountability. There is only one explanation. Adam was the head of the race, and what he did had its effects in his race.

When Christ comes into the scheme of things, his reign goes just as far as that of Adam. You may say you do not think it right that we should die for Adam's sin. But by the same token, is it right for God to give you righteousness when you do not have any? The two things are equal. The ways of God are equal.

Adam and Christ Contrasted

The Contrast of Quality

It is not a contrast of quantity, but a contrast of quality. Here is what Paul says: "If the one trespass caused the death of many, much more will the grace of God abound unto many." In Adam we got what we deserved. Adam receiveth death, and he deserved it: you receive death, and you deserve it. But on the other hand, God gives the saved (those in Christ) something they do not deserve.

The Contrast of Quantity

"The judgment came of one." He is referring, not to one man but to one offence - one trespass. "For the judgment came of one offence unto condemnation, but the free gift came of many offences unto justification." The contrast there is between one offence and many offences. Let me illustrate: Here is a man who goes out into a forest; he takes a match and sets fire to a tree. A small action that anyone could do. (That is what Adam did - he committed a small action anyone could do.) Then you know what would happen in that forest. The fire would travel up the tree and soon the whole forest would be blazing. Now, then suppose somebody came along and put the whole thing out. Would not the second operation be vastly greater, "much more" than the first?

That is what Paul is saying: that condemnation came from one offence, but justification blots out forever millions and millions of offences. Therefore, it is greater.

The Contrast of Certainty

The reign of death is certain. Just as certain as death reigns through Adam, much more certain, we are going to reign through Jesus Christ! "Much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." Remember that if death is a certain thing in this world, just as certain and much more certain is our reign in eternal life through Jesus Christ!

Adam and Christ Compared

One Act

"Even so by one act of righteousness." The comparison here is between the judgment that came upon all men and the free gift which came unto all men. The one goes just as far as the other - the one came to all men and the second goes to all men.

One Man

"One man's disobedience" as over against "the obedience of one." The comparison there is as to effects. If Adam's sin constituted all sinners, Christ's obedience is going to constitute righteous all those who believe on Him.

The Reign of Grace

"As sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness." The comparison there is very obvious. The Jew would say at this point in the chapter, "Well, what is the law for?! So Paul takes just a little phrase there, "The law came in besides," and it means to steal in. "That the offence might abound." It means that 'the law came in that the offence might abound." Sin existed back there. Moreover, God brought the law in, but not to save men. Paul is not approving that old heresy that the law would save men! It was given that the "offence," or sin, might abound. The law came in to show man how great a sinner he is. Commandments stir up the "old man", and he will break the law. The law does not make a man a sinner, but it provokes sin and proves him to be a sinner. All you have to do is to tell folks what they can do and what they cannot do, and then you will have trouble. The way to get rid of sin is not through the law, but through grace! The Jew was glorying and boasting and rejoicing in the very thing that showed him how great a sinner he was. But he was no bigger a fool than some folks are today.

But, "where sin abounded, grace did abound much more exceedingly." Grace super abounded! That is what it means. Grace was greater!

Christ, Righteousness, and Life

In verse 12 Adam, sin, and death are featured. But at the end of verse 21, a direct contrast is made. "Jesus Christ our Lord" corresponds to Adam. "Righteousness" corresponds to sin. "Life corresponds to death.

There is one more term that has no corresponding one. That is "grace"! It is that little word that makes all the difference between Adam, sin, death; and Christ, righteousness, life! It is the added term. And that is why the apostle Paul dares to lay the two things side by side and say, "Look at them! The on is much more than the other!" It is because the one contains the grace of God.

Some people say this passage teaches universalism - that every man is going to be saved, as all were condemned. But look carefully at verse 17. There is a qualifying expression, "they that receive." That is Paul's answer. Receive! Receive! That is what man must do in order to be saved!

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 46 - "Sanctification: The Right  Way of Union with Christ")

Gentleness Through Suffering

And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, (2 Tim 2:24)
When God conquers us and takes all the flint out of our nature, and we get deep visions into the Spirit of Jesus, we then see as never before the great rarity of gentleness of spirit in this dark and unheavenly world.
The graces of the Spirit do not settle themselves down upon us by chance, and if we do not discern certain states of grace, and choose them, and in our thoughts nourish them, they never become fastened in our nature or behavior.
Every advance step in grace must be preceded by first apprehending it, and then a prayerful resolve to have it.
So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.
There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified; and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.
But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.
—G. D. W.
“And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 44

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Work of Christ Greater

But that is not all. The apostle shows that Christ's work not only goes just as deep, but that the work of Christ goes deeper and is vastly greater than the work of Adam. He indicates this three times: "Much more the grace of God ..." (v. 15); "much more ... abundance of grace ..." (v. 17); "And grace did much more abound" (v. 20). In the Greek, Paul's phrase "much more" implies "much more exceedingly," and is translated that way in the ASV.

Many commentators have covered this passage in hundreds of pages. After much investigation, it becomes difficult to be original. But both with the help of others and through independent study, the following outline has become clear:

1. Adam, sin, and death (vv. 12-14)

2. Adam and Christ contrasted (vv. 15-17

3. Adam and Christ compared (vv. 18-21)

4.Christ, righteousness, and life contrasted with Adam, sin, and death (v. 21)

Adam, Sin, and Death

The first word of this passage is "wherefore," or in the ASV version, "therefore." Whenever a man says "wherefore," in his mind is something that has gone before. He is about to sum up an argument, and in this case, Paul is about to sum up all that he has said about condemnation and justification.

"Therefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men; for that all sinned." That is not a complete sentence, which has made commentators frantic in their effort to find out how to complete the sentence. It starts out, "Therefore, but has no concluding phrase.

A passage with a parallel construction is Matthew 25:14. Present in it are a number of italicized words. While it is possible to read the passage and leave out those italicized words, it is then an unfinished sentence. The Greek does that very often. The reason the translators put in the italicized words "the kingdom of heaven is" was because Christ had been talking about the kingdom of heaven. The ASV has put in three other words: "It is ... when." We ask the question, "What is?" the answer must be the thing he was talking about, namely, the kingdom of heaven. With this guide, turn to Romans: "Therefore, it is." What is? The thing Paul had been talking about, namely, justification in Christ. "Therefore, justification in Christ" is like something else. It is like condemnation in Adam. This makes a complete sentence, and the translators are right in supplying the two words "it is." They are understood in the Greek, but must be supplied in the English translation.

Sin has entered into the world, and there is something else that came in too. Sin has not come in alone. "Sin entered ... and death trough sin." The two always go together, like that other pair in the Bible, grace and peace. When grace comes in, peace comes in. When sin comes in, then death comes in at the same time. So the movement is "death through sin."

Is death natural? Certainly not! Death is the most unnatural thing in the world, and it is possible to put your finger on the spot where it entered into the race. God did not start out this world with death, as far as the human race is concerned.

You may say, "What if Adam had not sinned?" Perhaps if Adam had not sinned there would have come a time in his life when he would have been changed, as we are going to be changed when the Lord comes - raised to a higher life and to reign. But Adam did sin, so there came "death through sin."

But that is not all. "And so death passed unto all men." The two Greek words used here are descriptive, sin entered. The figure is that of a house; somebody opens a door and enters. When sin came in, death entered through the same door. After death entered, death moved into all the rooms of the house - "unto every man." Sin entered, but that was not all. Death did not remain isolated - he began to penetrate to everyone. Eventually death will come to every one of us, unless the Lord comes. Death penetrated to all men.

Some protest that it is not fair of God to bring death upon all because of what Adam did back there. They insist it is wrong to argue that sin entered into the world through Adam, and therefore death passed to all men. To answer that objection, Paul gives that last clause: "For that all have sinned."

The man who objects to condemnation in Adam needs to be reminded of the fact that he himself has sinned. Paul has dealt with it - this is just a reminder. Paul says, "If you cannot accept the fact of condemnation in Adam, then reflect upon the fact that you yourself are a sinner and deserve condemnation on the basis of what you have done."

A great many commentators have taken this phrase to mean that all have sinned through Adam. And that is true. But it is laying direct responsibility on each individual man. Paul is dealing with facts. There is a great mystery in connection with sin: how can sin start with one man and spread until it permeates the whole world? What should the whole human race be condemned by the sin of one man? Paul answers these questions, and in doing so he deals with the facts. It is a fact that sin entered into the world and that death entered as a  result. It is a fact that men sin. Paul does not attempt to expand his explanation.

Can sin exist without law? Yes, it can. "Until the law, sin was in the world." Read Genesis 6:5-8. Paul has the Jew in mind, and he reminds the Jew that sin was real before the law came into existence. How could man then expect to be justified by law? Even if it had existed, all it could do was to condemn him. But the Jew would say, "Sin is not impute where there is no law. Sin is not put to his account. God can't put sin down to a man's account where there is no law." Paul admits it, but he does not argue. He merely said, "Yes, but nevertheless, sin was there, even though it was not put down to man's account."

Sin is a vastly greater thing than mere transgression of the law. Sin is lawlessness. It exists where there is no law. In the second chapter of this book, the apostle said, "As many as sinned without the law shall perish without the law." And if men have sinned under the law, then they shall be judged by the law. God puts it down to their personal account.

At this point the statement of verse 14 confronts men with a fact. "Nevertheless death reigned." That is proof of it. If you do not believe that sin is in the world, and you do not believe that it is a real thing, go out to the cemetery. There is the evidence of the reign of death! That is the final proof whether sin is a real thing or not.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 45)

Letting Go Is Hard


I am the LORD your God. You shall have no other gods before Me. - Exodus 20:2-3

Corrie Ten Boom once said that she learned to hold on to things loosely because it hurt too much when God pried them away. There are many things in our life that we get attached to: our work becomes our identity, our homes become our personality, our children become our goals. Sometimes it is hard to know who we were before these things came in and took over our lives. Where do I end and these things begin? When God challenges us on our priorities, it is difficult to truly understand what He is doing.

Because I work in the ministry, it gets confusing at times to separate my walk with the Lord from my work in the LordRecently, I have fallen in love with the plans of a ministry that truly helps people and honors God. I received His promises and His revelation of how to get the ministry started. Then, out of the blue, I had the sense that He wanted me to give the ministry to someone else to do. He used me to get the ministry going, but now He wanted me to let it go and not feel that I must do the work for Him. It was hard to let go because that ministry had become a key part of my life. How do you let go of something that God placed in your heart to do, so that you can honor God by not doing it?

We have to remember that nothing is ours. We are just stewards entrusted with the Master's gifts. Our calling is to be obedient. Our hearts are to have nothing above Him, including His ministries. We are to align ourselves up with Jesus, to rest at His feet and to have a relationship with Him. Jesus wants you, not what you can do.

Lord, thank You that You don't want my attention divided. I am sorry that I fall in love with the work to a point of missing Your will. Help me to walk in Your paths and stay in step with Your call. You have given me everything I have and I give them back to You. Be glorified in me. Amen.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 43

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Salvation: Condemnation in Adam But Justification in Christ

Romans 5:12-21

The passage now before us looks different. Perhaps the apostle Peter was thinking about this passage when he wrote that the apostle Paul had written some things that were hard to be understood 2 Peter 3:16). Even though this is a very difficult passage, the outstanding ideas are plain. A constant reading of this passage under the leadership of the Spirit of God never fails to bear fruit.

This particular paragraph closes the section called "Justification." In reality it is the conclusion of the first two sections, one on condemnation and the other on justification. This section is a wonderful comparison, but also a contrast between condemnation and justification.

Key Idea

To find the key idea, first look at verse 16: "For the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification." That is one contrast between condemnation and justification. In verse 18 the same idea is repeated. Condemnation and justification are laid side by side.

But then again, this section is more than that. It is not only a contrast and a comparison between condemnation and justification, but it is also inevitably a comparison and a contrast between Adam and Christ, for our condemnation flows from Adam. And our justification flows from Jesus Christ. So any involve necessarily a comparison between the two men from whom these two states come.

You will find this indicated in verse 14, the last phrase: "Who [Adam] is the figure of him that was to come." What does "figure" mean? It means type. "Who is the type of Him who was to come," that is, Christ.

So we have the key. This passage will set forth not only a contrast and a comparison between condemnation and justification, but also a comparison and a contrast between Adam and Christ.

Seed Thought

In reality this whole section is a development and an expansion of a text which is found in 1 Corinthians 15;45: "The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam became a lifegiving spirit". The first letter to the Corinthians was written before the letter to the Romans. Therefore, Paul in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians expresses the seed thought of this  whole section of Romans. In this section Paul concentrates on he first Adam and the last Adam - compares the two, compares their work and the consequences and results that flow from their work.

If in Adam we are all condemned, then in Christ everyone (who knows Christ) receives justification. Naturally, as he has now dealt with condemnation and justification fully, nothing remains except to demonstrate that justification in Christ is many times greater than the condemnation in Adam.

Characteristics of the Passage

A few outstanding characteristics of the passage can be noted before a more complete and detailed study of the passage.

Begins with Adam, Ends With Christ

First of all, the section begins with Adam and ends with Jesus Christ: "That grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Chris our Lord." We have the "bad news" first, while the best news is held for the end.

Six Contrasts

This passage contains at least six pairs of contrasting terms: 1. Adam and Christ; 2. disobedience and obedience; sin and righteousness; law and grace; condemnation and justification; and death and life.

Four Kings

There are four "kings" mentioned in this section: 1. "Death reigned"; "sin... reigned"; 3. "grace reign[s]; 4. "they [believers] shall reign".

Work of Christ as Deep

This whole passage demonstrates that the work of Jesus Christ goes as deep as the work of Adam and is as far-reaching in its effects. One significant phrase has three occurrences. "So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation, even so ..." "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so ..."; "That, as sin reigned in death, even so ...". The effect of "even so" is to equate Christ's work with Adam's work.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 44)

Stopping the Enemy

...because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith. (1 John 5:4)
 
At every turn in the road one can find something that will rob him of his victory and peace of mind, if he permits it. Satan is a long way from having retired from the business of deluding and ruining God’s children if he can. At every milestone it is well to look carefully to the thermometer of one’s experience, to see whether the temperature is well up.
 
Sometimes a person can, if he will, actually snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat, if he will resolutely put his faith up at just the right moment.
 
Faith can change any situation. No matter how dark it is, no matter what the trouble may be, a quick lifting of the heart to God in a moment of real, actual faith in Him, will alter the situation in a moment.
 
God is still on His throne, and He can turn defeat into victory in a second of time, if we really trust Him.
 
“God is mighty! He is able to deliver;
Faith can victor be in every trying hour;
Fear and care and sin and sorrow be defeated
By our faith in God’s almighty, conquering power.
 
“Have faith in God, the sun will shine,
Though dark the clouds may be today;
His heart has planned your path and mine,
Have faith in God, have faith alway.”
 
“When one has faith, one does not retire; one stops the enemy where he finds him.”

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 42

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Salvation: The Blessings that Accompany Justification

Patience Works Experience

It is further affirmed that "patience worketh" something else, namely, "experience." The word "experience" means proof or testing, for that is what experience is. Here is the explanation: You enter into tribulation and that tribulation makes you steadfast, and your steadfastness becomes an experience, or a proof that you are a child of God.

Experience Works Hope

Paul does not stop there. He says that "experience" works something else, namely, hope! Here is a beautiful circle! It started with hope, "Hope of the glory of God." Then tribulation worked steadfastness, and steadfastness proved to us that we are children of God, and when we were proven children of God, we were encouraged in our spirits and we completed the circle with "hope of the glory of God."

Hope Maketh Not Ashamed

Paul is not talking about hope in any abstract sense. Some of our hopes have made us ashamed. Some of our hopes have disappointed us. How many there have been in my life and in your life! A father man stand by his son, a dissipated wretch, and say, "I had hoped." A mother may stand by the casket of a loved one that has gone and say, "I had hoped." Or a man may look upon the fragments of his fortune, when it has been distributed to the winds and is gone, and say, "I had hoped," but his hopes did not issue in fruition. They failed, and that failure made him ashamed.

He is not talking about "all" hope here, because many a hope there is that has failed utterly. He is talking about a certain, specific hope - a definite hope. This is the way it reads in the original - the little article the is before the word hope. "And hope in the abstract, but "the hope" - a certain hope, a Christian hope. That hope will never make you ashamed. It will never fail you. It will never disappoint you. That little article "the" points back to the second verse. What is "the hope"? Hope of the glory of God!

The rest of the section is devoted to showing us why this hope can never fail. "The hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5). How does Christ dwell in our hearts? By the Holy Spirit, and Christ in you is "the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). So this hope of ours  cannot fail or make us ashamed, because He has come into our hearts and shed His love abroad by the Holy Spirit.

If God loved us so much as to come into us and live in us, and if your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, can that hope ever be disappointed? Certainly not! "There is a hope that maketh not ashamed!"

Verse 6 opens with the word "for". Now read the next three verses. Paul compares God's love with human love. "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure [perhaps] for a good man some would even dare to die." That is what men would do. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners [or enemies] Christ died for us"! Now, what does that mean? It simply means that in the death of Christ for us we have such a proof of God's love that we know He will not forsake us. He rescued us when we were enemies by a supreme act of love. Now that we are His, He will take us all the way through to the end.

That is what Paul argues for in the ninth verse. He says, "How much more then." If while we were sinners and enemies He "died" for us, will He allow us to come into wrath? Not at all! "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." Wrath would be the thing that would destroy our "hope of glory." If, while I was a sinner, God loved me enough to give His Son for me, now when I am justified, how much more will He continue in His love for me. "Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (5:10). Read it this way: "We shall be kept safe by His life."

A Christian scientist one time quoted this passage to me, saying that we were saved by Christ's life, and not by His death, but I said, "You are not reading the whole passage. He reconciled us by His death." "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that cometh unto God through Him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus Himself said, "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). So, we are kept safe by His life. Romans 8:32 reads: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Romans 834 goes on with the same theme: "It is Christ that died," but Paul doesn't stop there, "Yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." So, if it is the death of Christ that wipes out all our sins and gives us justification and righteousness in the sight of God, it is His life that keeps us safe forever!

A real Chritian cannot talk about being afraid of losing his salvation. When Jesus Christ went to the Cross, He took upon Himself the debt for our sin, and He paid it. If Christ had not paid the debt of sin in full, He would still be dead. The only reason God raised Him from the dead was because He paid it! When Jesus Christ went to the Cross and paid our debt in full, He was raised from the dead. "Death hath no more dominion over Him," because sin's penalty is paid forever. The fact that He is alive today is the pledge that His payment is eternal. He would have to be dragged down from heaven in order for us to fall. If He lives, we live. If He dwells in heavenly places, we will sit there. 

Now Paul closes this section by saying, "And not only so, but we rejoice in God" (5:11). The passage closes as it began: "Through our Lord Jesus Christ." It had begun: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," and it closes: "We rejoice in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ!" No man has any hope apart from the Son of God. There is no approach to God the Father, save through the Son of God.

These are the blessings which accompany justification. Perhaps they are not all new to you, but if any one of them is new, may this be the day you begin to enjoy it. It is yours, so enjoy it, and especially your tribulations.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 43 - Salvation: Condemnation in Adam But Justification in Christ")