Wednesday, January 19, 2011

He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

Rom. 4:13-25 NLT  
   Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. 14 If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. 15 For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!) 
16  ¶ So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.
Rom. 4:17 That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. 
   18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. 
   20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. 22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. 23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded 24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

Paul's point in discussing Hebraic heritage with these Gentile Christians, living at the heart of the Gentile world, was to help them understand how the history of the Jews was for the very purpose of laying a foundation upon which the Kingdom of God would be built through Christ to open citizenship to all people from 'every tribe and language' as Isaiah put it. There were people falsely promoting something they called Judaism, that was not what God called Jews to do or to be, but using it to distract these new Gentile converts to Christ. The truth is, God's enemy, Satan, will use religion, any religion, all religion and anti-religions to distract people from Christ. Have you ever wondered why the political left in the US will only criticize Christianity even when other religions promote actual murder of our citizens? That is the work of The Enemy. Those doing the attacking are hapless pawns in the process intended to distract Christians from being-- well, Christian, or 'Like Christ.'

Paul, a scholar in all things Jewish, speaks about the one Jews considered the "Father of Judaism," Abraham. He points to the unconditional faith that Abraham demonstrated in the most severe of challenges for decades. He also points out that it was hundreds of years after Abraham that the written Hebrew Bible was given that contained "The Law" that Jews were supposedly so zealous about promoting. Then he clarifies that it is the very faith of Abraham that Christians exercise when they trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. This process is the very fulfillment of the promises given Abraham by God. Paul informs the people of faith in Christ that we, in fact, are descendants of Abraham so long ago promised as well as some among the Hebrews who also believe. Verse 25 is the 'pin' I want us to put in this passage as we will continue to come back to it throughout the discussion in the Book of Romans. It is all about Christ. The entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, are all about Christ. Life, itself, is all about Christ. When we live for Him we are living as creation was intended to live.

How are you living?

Your servant in Christ's love

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