Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reflections and outline of John 7:1-51

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John 7:6-10  "So Jesus *said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. 8 Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” 9 Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. 10 But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret."

Today's post will attempt to offer an outline of Jesus' activities and teachings in John 7:1-52. Several key themes emerge in this chapter. First, we find reference to the setting of John 7: the Feast of Tabernacles. In the Jewish calendar, seven feasts were celebrated to commemorate major events in Israel's history and to remind the people of God's faithfulness to them. Of these seven feasts or times celebration - three were required by God to be annually attended by the people in Jerusalem: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Of these three - we find Tabernacles commemorating how God provided the people food and water in their wilderness wanderings in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. 

In as much as the Feast of Tabernacles pointed to God's faithfulness to Israel in times past, it also signified the near completion of another year in Israel's calendar life and at the same time a new start. Following on the heels of the sixth feast (the Day of Atonement), Israel's sacrificial and temple system were ritually cleansed. Now the people could celebrate, preparing themselves for another year of life with God. The Feast of Tabernacles was a week long celebration of victory and prayers to God to provide salvation and further victories ahead. 

We don't want to belabor the details here, since much more could be said. All we will say for now is this atmosphere of anticipation, celebration and looking back all converged in the Feast of Tabernacles, and thus giving us our first theme in John 7 - that of joyful anticipation. 

The second theme we could say that emerges in John 7 is the need for change. Change was needed. The people felt the need for renewal. Jesus' arrival in the temple was to offer them that opportunity. As Jesus ministered, did miracles and preached messages throughout Galilee, Samaria and Judea, He was announcing the fact that God's Kingdom was breaking into history. He was, afterall, God in human flesh. John 7 functions to us how Jesus Christ is the joyful fulfillment of humanity's deepest longings for joy, satisfaction and the longing of the soul to be at peace. On Christ can offer change. Only Christ can fulfill our deepest longings.

Outlining John 7

We can divide John 7 up into three sub-sections. Below I will offer a proposed outline of this chapter with summaries for each of three sections.  

I. John 7:1-14 "Higher & Deeper With Jesus"

Summary: In our journey through John’s Gospel, we’ve explored Jesus’ declarations about Himself, signs and conversations that unfold His identity as the Son of  God. This section will take us into John 7 to see what is required for you and I to have a greater appetite for more of Jesus in our lives. In other words, what is necessary to go higher and deeper with Jesus?

A. Trust.  John 7:1-5

B. Timing. John 7:6-10,14

C. Truth. John 7:11-13

II. John 7:15-39 "Why We Need The Holy Spirit". 

Summary: Jesus will demonstrate what needs to be done to understand His mission identity, and yet can’t be done alone by man’s strength. We will see in this section why we need the Holy Spirit to rightly respond to Jesus, receive Him and run to Him.

We need the Holy Spirit to….

A. To respond correctly to God.       John 7:14-24

B. To receive the truth about Jesus. John 7:25-31

C. To run to Jesus.                          John 7:32-39 

III. John 7:37-52 "Flourishing for Christ in a hostile world"

Summary: What is necessary in order for you and I to have a greater capacity to enjoy Jesus? How can we flourish in a world dominated by human opinion, the flesh, spiritual darkness and dryness of the soul? Following from Jesus' statements concerning the the Holy Spirit, we find a recipe for the flourishing Christian life. In this section the people in the background are thrust into the foreground, uncovering their thoughts and responses to Jesus' words and actions. In this section, we will discover how the disciple's life with Christ is designed to flourish amidst a hostile environment. 

Oftentimes in scripture we can learn the truths of God's Word by considering an opposite action, attitude or response in the context. The people here in John 7:37-51 were not drinking of the living water offered by Jesus; weren't relying on God's Word but rather the layer of human tradition surrounding it; and finally, we find unwillingess to wait on God. 

A. Water of the Spirit. John 7:37-39

B. Word of God. John 7:40-49

C. Willingness to Wait on God. John 7:50-52

Monday, January 30, 2017

Your Only Court Of Appeal - Thoughts On Romans 2:1-29

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Romans 2:1-4 "Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 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?"


I recall the time many years ago when I was driving into work to begin night-shift on a particular cold, icy and snowy Christmas Eve night. I'll admit I was in a hurry and really wanted to get my shift over so as to get back home to enjoy Christmas morning with my family. While driving through a particular town, my rear view mirror suddenly lit-up with red and blue lights and a shrill siren. The trooper had clocked me going 50 m.p.h in a 35 m.p.h zone. Clearly I was guilty. On the ticket he gave me was a court date in which I had to appear to pay my fine. When the day I came, I nervously enter into the courthouse. The judges' bench seemed incredible high to me as I stood before the presiding judge. 

In addition to myself and the judge was the police officer who had pulled me over that evening. There was really no room for pleading innocent - it was evident I was guilty. There was not only the officer, but his official report and my signature indicating that I understood why he had pulled me over. At that point I wanted so badly to have some sort of appeal or somebody to pay the fine on my behalf. None such thing was available or offered. So, I payed the fine and in the eyes of the law I was free to go on my way. 

My little story serves to illustrate the far more severe situation that every human being finds themselves with respect to the Holy Divine Judge. In Romans 2, God as arraigned all of humanity to determine their moral crisis. The papers of God's law have been served. Moreover, the sirens and lights of the human conscience are flashing in every human soul to pull-over, since they are guilty of fleeing from the presence of God. How can anyone fare in the presence of God who knows all and sees all. Moreover, how aware are people of the fact that there is not only an actual Divine court of justice, but also a Divine court of appeals? 

In today's post, we will unpack the moral crisis of sinful humanity before a Holy God in Romans 2:1-29. All people are issued this Divine arraignment by God regarding their sinful condition. How will you and I plea to the charges against our sin? To what or whom can we appeal to get the charges dismissed? Let's explore Romans 2:1-29 to discover what I'm calling: "Your Only Court Of Appeal."

1. God’s Courtroom, Humanity On Trial.  

We are introduced to a summary of the situation in Romans 2:1-6 with respect to God's Divine courtroom and man's moral crisis. The Bible reminds us of God's role as the Judge of all the earth. In Genesis 18:25 we read: "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Or again, regarding God as the Divine judge, the Apostle Peter notes in 1 Peter 1:17 "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth."

In Romans 2:3 and 2:4 we are asked two interesting questions. Romans 2:3 states: "But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?" We understand that God is indeed the Divine judge, as seen in the above cross references. However, something else is said about God in Romans 2:4 "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?" The same God who justly passes sentence on the guilty is the same God who desires to show mercy to them. All of us stand morally guilty before a holy righteous God outside of Jesus Christ, as indicated in Romans 2:5-6. So then, what exactly are the charges and the sentence being brought against humanity?

2. Charges & Sentencing Of Us All.     Romans 2:5-12
If we were to enumerate the various charges that God is bringing against each individual sinful human being and the entire race as whole, here is what we would find:

(Charges): Despising God’s kindness of common grace Romans 2:4 / Stubborn & Unrepentant Romans 2:5 / selfish, disobedient to truth Romans 2:8 / does evil Romans 2:9. 

God must past sentence on such a lot, since there is nothing left to do but deal with that which has chosen to trounce upon His peerless character and Holy name. So then, what sentence do we find that is pending over sinful human beings?

(Sentencing): Render according to deeds Romans 2:6 / wrath, indignation, tribulation, distress Romans 2:7-9 / perishing Romans 2:12. 

Other passages in the Bible describe this state of affairs concerning man's moral crisis and God's Divine judgment. John 3:16 indicates that unless we believe on Jesus Christ, we will perish, since He came to provide the opportunity to escape the final judgment.  John 3:36 states: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” So we see then the Divine Courtroom and our moral crisis, as well as the list of charges and sentencing brought against us. But now, the next question is: what witnesses are there to verify that we are indeed in a moral, spiritual crisis and that God's judgment is pending?

3. Chief Witnesses & Evidence.           Romans 2:12-27

As we go on down the text of Romans 2:12-27, we find to main witnesses on the stand of God's Divine courtroom that witness against our ability to please God on our own merit. 

First, there is the Law of God in Romans 2:12-14 and Romans 2:17-27. In the Bible we find the Law of God performing three functions: restraining cultural rebellion, convicting people of their need for salvation and giving a picture of how a forgiven life ought to be living in dependence upon Christ who alone fulfilled the law. Paul here is using the law of God in the second sense. 

Elsewhere in the Bible we find reference to this second use of the law in convicting men of their sins and need of salvation. Jesus says to the legalists of His day that: “the one who accuses you is Moses”, which is another way of referring to God's Law in the Ten Commandments, written by Moses. 

The Bible uses illustrations to convey the sense in which the Law of God points the way to the need for salvation. Proverbs 6:23 states that the Law of God is like a lamp: "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life."  James 1:23 describes God's Law as that mirror that tells me the truth: "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror." The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:7 likens the Law of God to that which awakens the sinner to the truth of their sin: "What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” The Law of God bears witness concerning how unfit sinful man is to have relationship with Holy God outside of grace.

But there is a second witness, namely the human conscience. Romans 2:14-15 details for us how God's Law found in the Ten Commandments was also inscribed on the human heart. The conscience functions as the dashboard of the human soul. It gives off lights and sound when we've done something wrong or are considering such. Paul describes how our conscience affirms then accuses as an endless tide rolling in on the shorelines of our soul. Just as the ocean tide is governed by the invisible force of gravity exerted by the moon, the conscience is regulated by the invisible force of God's moral character stamped upon the human heart. 

The conscience of man has been described by the Puritan theologian Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) in his commentary on 2 Corinthians as follows with appropriate cross references: "A courtroom register (Jeremiah 17:1); accuses and defends (Romans 2:14-15); the conscience is a witness 2 Corinthians 1:12; The conscience judges 1 John 3:20-21; the conscience executes us when guilt is discovered 1 Samuel 24:5." 

More could be said - but the point is that the conscience, like God's written Law, witnesses that when we are placed in God's moral scales of judgment, we are found wanting.

Now so far, Paul's words here in Romans 2 sound heavy and grim - and rightly so! Apart from grace, I am a vile sinner in moral and spiritual crisis. The gavel of God is ready to come crashing down to pass down the sentence I deserve. But wait, this same Judge is also informing me that there is a court of appeals. Is that possible? Lets find out...

4. Your Only Court of Appeal.   Romans 2:4,7,10, 28-29

When Paul makes statements such as we find in Romans 2:7 "to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life", he is not advocating some sort of "works-salvation". Notice what the person who ends up having eternal life is seeking: "glory, honor, immortality". These are the things that true saving faith desires and which is made known by God's grace. We are saved by grace through faith apart from works unto a faith that works. James 2:26 echoes this point: "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." So God's in His grace offers to me the Court of Appeal by way of the Gospel. He tells me I can live a life of faith that will be characterized as wanting immortality rather than this world; God's glory rather than my glory and honor rather than dishonor. 

In this court of appeal, I am offered the Supreme Advocacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 John 2:1-2 reminds us: "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." Or again, Hebrews 7:24-25 "but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." 

It is because of Christ's work that the sinner in saving faith has the only appropriate, necessary and sufficient grounds for appeal. Faith alone sufficient and necessary to apprehend this work of the Advocate, which results in the Divine Judge dropping all the charges against us. Now later on in Romans Paul will name this legal working of God the Father (the Judge) and saving work of the Son credited to our account as "justification". 

So what happens if you and I refuse to go through this Divine appellate court? The best we can expect is to face an eternity under the Divine sentence and have the Devil as our attorney whom scripture indicates to be nothing but an accuser and prosecutor (Zechariah 3:1-5; Revelation 12:10) who duped our original parents in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6). In short then, the only court of appeal that we have is found in the Gospel, whereupon we enter to latch onto by faith our Mediator - The Lord Jesus Christ.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Understanding the Law of God: The Third Use Of The Law - Helping The Christian To Delight in Jesus and Hate Sin

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Romans 7:21-23  "I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members." 


The last two posts have been devoted to better understanding how God's Law functions in the Bible. We have been utilizing a method of designation called "the three uses of God's law" to walk our way through this important subject. So far we have observed two of these three uses:

1. To discourage rebellion and deter societal evil.

2. To demonstrate to the sinner their need for Christ.

One could say that the first use of the law of God applies to civil life whereas the second use applies to the need for eternal life. Without hardly any exception, most Bible teachers readily acknowledge these first two categories. 

Today we want to consider what theologians consider to be "The Third Use of the Law." Admittedly, not all are in exact agreement on this detail. Some deny that the law of God even applies to the Christian. Others claim that the law functions differently for the Christian, depicting for them in written form the life of obedience that Christ-fulfilled and which ought to be born through ever-increasing fruit in their own life. We will explore the legitimacy of this category and see how it can shed further light on our overall understanding of the Law of God. 

The Law's third use: Delighting the Christian in Christ and urging the Christian to hate sin

When Jesus came, He fulfilled the Law of God (Matthew 3:15). Thus at saving faith, not only is the righteousness earned by Christ's death credited (imputed) to the believer, but also the life that He lived. The Ten commandments function to point the Christian to Jesus Christ as their confidence, since it is He who is living His life through us by the Holy Spirit's work (Colossians 1:27).  God's law, with respect to the Christian, is a means to provide focus upon the proper end - Christ Himself. Its not that I aim to live by "law keeping", rather I can live the Christian life because the requirements of the law are deemed fulfilled in me (2 Corinthians 5:21). 

Sometimes people will quote Galatians 6:2 in an attempt to show that the law of God has no application to the Christian. Galatians 6:2 reads - "Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." Another passage I've heard quoted on occasion in dismissing the third use of the law is Philippians 3:9 "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith." When we look at these two verses of scripture, it seems we find more support than objection to the relevance of the Law of God (which we would say is the ten commandments). 

Christ of course came to fulfill the law of God in His perfect active obedience and passive, willing obedience on the cross. To fulfill the "law of Christ" is in effect to say I am relying upon Him who fulfilled the law of God. When I look to the law of God as a Christian, I see what it is Christ did for me. I see that there would be no way I could fulfill the ten commandments. Christ of course did away with the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law (the Levitical priesthood and its attendant sacrifices), as revealed in the Book of Hebrews. The moral law of God was illustrated in the ceremonial and civil laws (the civil laws dealt with how Old Testament Israel was to live in the promised land). 

Since Christ has fulfilled those latter two categories of laws, it stands to reason that He is the supreme embodiment of the fulfillment of the ten commandments. If anything, the law of God reminds me of my need to rely on Jesus' righteousness while craving to live a life that more and more approximates the moral standards spelled out in God's law and inscribed upon my heart by the Holy Spirit at salvation. In short, the law of God for the Christian functions to reinforce hatred of sin and delight in Jesus.

The Law for the Christian shows us what delighting in Christ should look like

As Christians, though we are saved by grace through faith apart from the law, our salvation is not a faith that operates lawlessly. The Holy Spirit's fruit of attitudes and actions do not conflict with the intent of God's moral law (Galatians 5:22). When Jesus summarized the entire law in Matthew 22:37-39 as loving God and loving my neighbor, He was showing that God's love, working in and through me, is pictured by the truth of the ten commandments. When He preached His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, the foundation for all ethics in the New Testament, He used the law of God as His base. As noted earlier, Christ fulfilled the ceremonial and civil commands of God's law in Moses, however the moral intent of the law in the ten commandments were revealed to picture Christ in written form.

How valid is the notion of the third use of the law in the history of Bible interpretation?

It is sometimes helpful to check one's understanding of the Bible against the historic testimony of the church itself. The great 19th century Baptist minister Charles Spurgeon was an advocate of this third use of the law as seen in his description of it in his sermon entitled: "The Uses of the Law" - 

"And, lastly, "Wherefore serveth the law." It was sent into the world to keep Christian men from self-righteousness. Christian men—do they ever get self-righteous? Yes, that they do. The best Christian man in the world will find it hard work to keep himself from boasting, and from being self-righteous."

Spurgeon then later notes: 

"Therefore, God has written the law, that when we read it we may see our faults; that when we look into it, as into a looking-glass, we may see the impurities in our flesh, and have reason to abhor ourselves in sackcloth and ashes, and still cry to Jesus for mercy. Use the law in this fashion, and in no other."

The Lutheran Formula of Concord, containing various documents issuing from the 16th century reformer Martin Luther, his students and other ancient Christian creeds and doctrinal statements, has the following to say about this use of the Law:

"But we must also explain distinctively what the Gospel does, produces, and works towards the new obedience of believers, and what is the office of the Law in this matter, as regards the good works of believers."

One final example from church history will suffice in showing the historic pedigree of the notion of the relevance of the ten commandments to the Christian. The early church of the first three centuries taught this view point regarding the use of the law of God in teaching the Christian to delight in Christ and hate sin. The mid-second century work entitled "The Didache" was composed as a practical how-to guide for Christian converts. In the edition of the "Apostolic Fathers" translated by Michael Holmes, we find the following excerpt from his rendering of the Diadache, which begins accordingly...

"There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways. Now this is the way of life: First, you shall love God, who made you. Second, you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

As one reads on into the first through four opening chapters of the Didache, ample quotations from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and the ten commandments provide structure for the Christian converts progress in Christian growth and the spiritual and moral life of virtue. In Didache 4:14 we read this summary of the "Way of Life" as prescribed by the writer:

"In church you shall confess your transgressions, and you shall not approach your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life."

The point of bringing up these quotes is to demonstrate how credible, mature, godly Christians of centuries past applied and understood the Biblical teaching of the Law of God as it pertains to the Christian. Of course, we must ever submit any secondary source like church history to the final source of authority - the Word of God. Nevertheless, we can say that we are in lines with historic, Bible believing Christianity in terms of commending the relevance of God's law to the Christian in terms of how it urges them to delight in Jesus and hate sin.

To wrap it up: If anything, ten commandments point to the need for Grace to live the Christian life

The the ten commandments function to show me what should be operating in my Christian life, since they reveal what Christ was like. If anything, Christianity exceeds the law. Law keeping would be concerned about: "what I have to do to get by", whereas Grace filled living goes further and says: "Why would I want to live for the Lord, since He is living in me so that I can live for Him." Delighting in God and not merely rule-keeping was the original intent of the law. As Paul reveals elsewhere in Romans, the Law could not make people delight in God. The Law demanded delight, pointing to the Grace of God in Christ - who alone through the Christian could fulfill God's desires.

We have devoted the last three days discovering and better understanding God's law in the Bible. Our main motive was to clarify how it functions with respect to the proclamation of the Gospel, the unbeliever and the Christian. In all, we explored what has been called by Bible teachers "Three Uses of the Law. We deemed these three uses as follows:

1. First use of the law: Discourage rebellion and curb societal evil

2. Second use of the law: Demonstrate the need for the Gospel and Jesus Christ

3. Third Use: Delight the Christian in Jesus and urging the Christian to hate their sin.

It is hoped that these posts have proven beneficial. To God be the glory!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Understanding The Law Of God - The Second Use of God's Law Is To Demonstrate Man's Need For The Gospel

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Romans 2:12-16 "For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus."

In the last post we began a series of posts aimed at better understand the Law of God as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. The approach of these posts is to consider what theologians refer to as the "three uses" of the law. In categorizing the Law of God by its various uses, the student of scripture can better understand the important distinctions between Law and Gospel and how the Law of God relates to sinners and saints. 

We looked at what is commonly called "The First Use Of The Law", which mainly deals with the law of God on the human conscience curbing society's propensities towards lawbreaking. We deemed this first use as having to do with "Discouraging Rebellion" with respect to culture and society. Passages such as Romans 13 highlight this first use by way of identifying the function of governmental enforcement of the laws of the land in curbing societal evils. Today we will consider what is called "the second use of the law", namely in pointing sinners to their need for salvation. 

The Law's Second Use: Demonstrates the sinner's need for Jesus Christ
Whereas the 1st use of the law operates everywhere and all the time, this second use of the law is more evident in the context of the Holy Spirit's call to sinners in the gospel. Paul states plainly in Galatians 3:24 - "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith." When sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is vital to first share the bad news of man's condition through the law. Paul's masterpiece Epistle to the Romans begins with the announcement of God's wrath in the main body of his letter (Romans 1:18). We then find that mankind is spiritually, morally and relationally in crisis before a Holy, just God (Romans 1:19-3:20). 

It is by the light of the law that we come to know that sin is sin (Romans 7:7).  This revelation of the "bad-news" unveils the nature of our disease - sin. Before we can appreciate the cure "the Gospel"; we first come to terms with the mortal disease called sin. This second function of God's law points the way to one's need for Christ. 

How the law of God can be used in sharing the Gospel

Evangelist Ray Comfort has highlighted this second use of the law by comparing the law to a needle that punctures the human heart with a series of holes so as to thread through the scarlet thread of the Gospel. Lest man's heart be pricked by the hardened needle of the law of God, there will not be the needed tenderizing of the heart to receive the Gospel offered in saving grace. 

When Jesus was sharing the Gospel with the rich young ruler in Mark 10, He used the law. The man's rejection of the testimony of the law revealed He was not ready to receive the grace of God through Jesus. Jesus used the law of God in his evangelistic appeals when dealing with self-righteous people or those who needed awakened by the slumber of their sinful condition. 

Another masterful use of the law in Gospel presentations is witnessed in the life of the Apostle Paul. When Paul makes mention of the Law's function of showing him his sin in Romans 7:7-13, he is referring back to his pre-conversion days. Paul, who had been formally known as the Jewish leader and Christian persecutor "Saul of Tarsus", described how the law of God came. As Saul of Tarsus, he thought he was doing good as a religious leader. However, when the law revealed Saul of Tarsus to be an enemy of God, he at first wanted to inwardly rebel and reject the indictment. The Spirit of God worked through the needle of the law to prick Saul of Tarsus' heart, preparing it for the scarlet thread of the Gospel to point him to Christ. Christ of course would meet Saul on the Damscus road, leading to his response of saving faith and transformation from Saul the sinner to Paul the missionary. It is this second use to which Paul alludes to in 1 Timothy 1:9a "realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners...". So in closing out our post today, we can say that thus far, we have noted two uses of the Law of God: to discourage rebellion and curb the tide of societal evil and then to demonstrate to the hearts of sinners their need for Christ and His salvation. 

More next time....

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Understanding The Law of God: The First Use Of The Law Is To Discourage Human Rebellion & Curb Societal Evil

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Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” 

Good cop, bad cop
I'm sure you have watched T.V legal dramas that depict two detectives or two police officers interrogating a suspect in a "downtown" police station. One cop plays "good cop" - trying to "soften" the suspect's defenses to gain the needed information or confession. If "good-cop" doesn't achieve his goal, then he leaves the room and his partner rushes in and plays the role of "bad- cop". Whoever does this second role resorts to more aggressive methods of interrogation. Often threatening means are used to scare the suspect into a confession. The polarized efforts of the "good-cop" and "bad-cop" illustrate different uses of man's law to achieve a given purpose: acknowledgement of the truth. Today's post wants to begin exploring this important concept of "law" as found in the Bible. 

The importance of understanding the distinction between "Law" and "Gospel"

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a famous 19th century London minister who has been hailed by many as "the prince of preachers". In his sermon "The Perpetuity Of The Law Of God", Spurgeon notes:

"It has been said that he who understands the two covenants is a theologian, and this is, no doubt, true. I may also say that the man who knows the relative positions of the law and the gospel has the keys of the situation in the matter of doctrine. The relationship of the law to myself, and how it condemns me : the relationship of the gospel to myself, and how if I be a believer it justifies me - these are the two points which every Christian man should understand."

One point of clarification needs to be offered to bring Spurgeon's insights into our 21st century context. When he makes mention of knowing the "two covenants", he is speaking of the so-called "covenant of works" which Adam and Eve broke in the Garden. God had given them a handful of commands, whereupon if they obeyed them would lead into an eternal state of bliss. Once the covenant of works had been broken, God offered a second covenant - a covenant of grace - whereupon man's response of faith to God's overtures of grace as expressed through the shed blood of an innocent substitute would result in reconciliation of God and man. 

When Christ came, He came as the New Adam to fulfill the broken covenant of works in his earthly life of active obedience and became a curse on our behalf (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). The first covenant had to be fulfilled by a man since it had been broken by one. Jesus did that by way of His incarnation. The covenant of grace, initiated in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:20-21) and recapitulated or repeated in various forms as the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-7); David Covenant Covenant (2 Samuel 7:13-16) and New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 36), was paid for by the Lord Jesus on the cross and validated in His resurrection. 

The two covenants described above are embodied in the other two-fold classification which is the focal point of Spurgeon's quote - namely the Law and the Gospel. As Spurgeon further notes: 

"To form a mingle-mangle of law and gospel is to teach that which is neither law nor gospel, but the opposite of both. May the Spirit of God be our teacher, and the Word of God be our lesson book, and then we shall not err."

Is the Christian not obligated to God's law?

A very practical issue comes to the forefront when Christian people begin to discuss the relative relationship between Christians and the Law of God. Some people are under the impression that the law is no longer needed when one becomes a Christian. They will cite passages such as Romans 6:14 that states at the end: "you are no longer under law, but under grace". Furthermore, they will also appeal to 1 Timothy 1:9 - "realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers." Now the question is: once a person believes on Christ by grace through faith, are they exempt from the law of God? To answer that question, we need to first of all look at the purposes of God's Law.

The Three uses of God's law in the Bible

Just like man's law, knowing how the law functions in different cases will result in a clearer understanding of the biblical relationship between law and grace. In calling to mind Spurgeon's emphasis on knowing the difference between law and gospel, one of the best approaches throughout the historic discussions on these issues has been to note the law's "various uses". 1 Timothy 1:8 gives us this principle: "But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully". 

The Law's First Use: Discourages Human Rebellion

Romans 2:14-15 states - "14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them." No matter where you go in the world, there is a universal sense of right and wrong. Why is that? Because the law of God, as revealed on the tablets of stone in the ten commandments (Exodus 19-20) were already inscribed upon the conscience of man. Man of course had been made in God's image according to Genesis 1:26. As an image bearer, man had inscribed on his heart the moral law of God. Man fell, marring the image and thus requiring the Law of God to be revealed in written form on Mount Sinai. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, page 675, has this insight regarding how the law of God functions relative to man:

"Humankind is the living, personal image of God; the law is the written, perceptual image of God."

Like we noted already, even after the fall, man's moral nature retained the testimony of God's law on the heart. Whether we are talking about the written law of God (i.e the ten commandments) or the unwritten version of the law operating in the human conscience (Romans 2:14-15) still functions in one sense to curb the tide of social evil. Watch what happens when fast-moving traffic approaches the flashing lights of a police cruiser. The consciences of every driver respond by "easing-off" the accelerator and depressing the brake. Whether they like it or not is irrelevant. The point is that the law of God, the moral intuitions of every human being, are bounded by God's moral precepts and reinforced in the written form of the ten commandments. 

More next time....

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

P2 Exploring Jesus as "The Rock" in the New Testament

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Matthew 7:24-25 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock."

In our last post we began exploring the Divine title for God: "Rock", as revealed throughout the Old Testament, here: In today's post we will turn our attention to the New Testament to see how everything we gleaned about God as "The Rock" in the Old Testament can gain insights into Jesus as the "Rock". One of the lessons we saw yesterday that bridges us into today's study concerns how Isaiah and the Old Testament writers used this title "Rock" in connection with God's provision of water in the wilderness for His people. 

Intriguingly, Isaiah 48:21 rehearses that familiar scene of God providing water from the rock, just as we saw already in Psalm 78:16,20,35; 105:41; Numbers 9:15; Numbers 20:8 and Exodus 17:6. Whenever we see the same event repeated throughout the Bible and additional theological meaning assigned to it, we can be sure that we are beholding what scholars call "a scripture echo". Such echoes can bridge what we learn about Yahweh in the Old Testament to see how Jesus Christ is God in human flesh in the New Testament. 

With those thoughts in mind, let's turn to see how Jesus is "The Rock" in the New Testament.

1. Jesus tells a familiar short parable of the wise man building his house on the rock in Luke 6:48 and as we see it reckoned here in Matthew 7:24-25 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." Let the reader take note of how Jesus identifies Himself as "The Rock". No guesswork is needed to understand how we connect Jesus Christ to this Divine title of "Rock", since Jesus Himself is the first one to do so! Peter's famous confession of Jesus as the Christ in Matthew 16:18 has Jesus exclaiming how "upon this rock I will build my church". Much ink has been spilled concerning what exactly Jesus meant when He said "upon this rock": a). was it Peter's faith? b). was Peter the rock? c). Was Jesus referring to Himself? it is the latter of these that gives the clearest since of Jesus' intended meaning. Jesus Christ is the "Rock", the foundation stone upon which the church is built and our faith stands (see Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7-9). 

2. We will travel past the Gospels and Acts to enter into Paul's letters before we run across references to this Divine title "Rock" as it connects to the identity of Jesus Christ. Romans 9:33 for example states: "just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Paul undoubtedly was taken by this connection in what we read in another of his letters in 1 Corinthians 10:4 "and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." We have already seen how various Old Testament passages (see near the beginning of this post) contribute the "dots" needed to draw the appropriate lines to fill in the Divine identity of Jesus in the New Testament. Only the inspiration of the Holy Spirit could connect such dots in the minds of authors such as Paul. 

Not only does the Apostle Paul draw such lines of connection between Jesus and this title "The Rock", but we also see the other great Apostle - Peter doing so in 1 Peter 2:7-8 "This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,” 8 and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed." Jesus Christ as our "Rock" is a precious stone to the one who has trusted in Him by God's saving grace. Peter's words are the final words we find with respect to Jesus being the Divine Rock.

Closing thoughts
In today's post and yesterday's post we endeavored to explore every passage in both the Old and New Testaments that deal with God and Christ as "The Rock". My hope is this short study has opened up the richness that this Divine title conveys. More specifically, to see Jesus Christ as "The Rock" adds insight into Who He is and all He has accomplished, is doing and will achieve. What Jesus means to the Christian as "Rock" ought to evoke the same reactions we find David and other Old Testament figures in their worship of God as "Rock". As we close, I leave the reader with the words of the great commentator Joseph Benson in what he writes on Jesus as the Rock:

"A manifest type of him, the Rock of ages, who, being smitten in his death and sufferings, poured forth streams of redemption, grace, and heavenly blessings, which follow his people through all this wilderness, and will end in rivers of pleasure at the right hand of God for ever." 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

P1 Exploring God as "The Rock" in the Old Testament

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Deuteronomy 32:4 "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He."

1 Corinthians 10:4 "and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ."

Today we want to consider a name of God and Christ that evokes images of strength, immovability and shelter - namely, God as our "Rock". The great 19th century commentator C.J. Ellicott notes about this title "Rock":

"No such combination of all the words for uprightness, sincerity, equity, and reliability is to be found elsewhere in all Scripture. This is the character of the Rock." 

Certainly studying any of the names of God overlap considerably with the names we find for Jesus Christ - since Christ is God in human flesh. All three Persons of the God, sharing in the same Divine nature, also share in any title ascribed to the nature and character of God. The title "Rock" is of course assigned to Yahweh in regards to the revelation of His character and being to the Old Testament Jews. It must be understood that any title or name speaks comparatively or metaphorically of God - meaning that the name or title points us to the way in which God's character or activity is pictured by the name. Thus, God is not literally a material, rocky-like Deity, since God by nature is immaterial spirit (see John 4:24). 

With those introductory remarks complete, we will turn our attention today to this title for God and Christ: "The Rock". We will explore this title for God as it is developed in the Old Testament, referencing all the while how the New Testament authors utilize this title to refer to Jesus Christ. 

Surveying the Old Testament Biblical record on the Divine title "Rock"

We first find this title "Rock" mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:4. The law of first mention in Bible study tells us that the first mention of a thing in the Bible will contain the seeds of thought that will develop later into the full-orbed truth of that subject. God as "Rock" is perfect, just, upright, without injustice and faithful. Just as a rock itself is immovable, stable and unchanging as far as rocks go - God has these qualities in His moral character. 

As one surveys the scriptures on this title "Rock", we can begin climbing the mountain of this truth from Deuteronomy 32:4 and discover the following:

1. In Deuteronomy 32:13,15 & 18 we find God as the Rock that provides salvation and Who is the source of life and existence of the people of God. The people of God, using the analogy of quarrying, ought to comparatively bear the same moral qualities as the God that begat them. This of course is speaking of the people in spiritual terms and corresponds to the time when God called them forth out of Egypt and covenanted with them at Sinai.

2. Exodus 17:6 and Numbers 20:8. These two verses specify the miracle of water coming from the rock to quench the thirst of the people during their desert wanderings. As we witnessed in the opening verse of today's post, Jesus Christ is described as somehow being included in this miracle of water from the rock - being designated as the "Rock" from when they drank. Whenever God reveals any name or title about Himself, He will often tie it to an event in Israel's history so that they can be reminded of what He did for them. 

3. In 1 Samuel 2:4 the prophet Samuel writes concerning God as our "Rock" - "There is no one holy like the Lord, Indeed, there is no one besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God." In 2 Samuel 22 we find David referring to God as the Rock of His salvation in various ways (2 Samuel 22:2,3,32 & 47). It is then in 2 Samuel 23:3 that w read this explicit connection of God being "The Rock" - The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me, ‘He who rules over men righteously, Who rules in the fear of God."

4. Nehemiah 9:15 rounds out the historical books in our survey of this title "The Rock", wherein we read: "You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger, You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst, And You told them to enter in order to possess The land which You swore to give them." Nehemiah provides for us the connection between God's provision for the people in the wilderness and His role as their "Rock". Interestingly enough, Nehemiah 9:15 has similarity to what Paul would later write in 1 Corinthians 10:4. 

5. Over 20 times in the Book of Psalms we find this Divine title "Rock" referring to God as the source of salvation, shelter and stability. Psalms is where we find the most mention of the title, with a fine example being in Psalm 18:2 "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." 

Interestingly enough we find a few more allusions to the event where Yahweh had provided water from the rock to quench the people's thirst in the wilderness (Psalm 78:16,20,35; Psalm 105:41). Like what was seen in Nehemiah 9:15, the idea of God as "Rock" is tied very closely to how He provided water for His people to drink, lending to what may had been Paul's thoughts about Christ in 1 Corinthians 10:4. Psalms is the only poetic book that contains any mention of God as Rock and is also the Biblical book containing the most mentions.

6. The prophetic books in the Old Testament give us further rich insights into this title "Rock". Isaiah 44:8 uses this title to point to God's Aseity (i.e self-sufficiency and self-existence) - "Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’ Isaiah elsewhere mentions how God as the "Rock" was a refuge forgotten (Isaiah 17:10); an everlasting Rock (Isaiah 26:4); a mighty mountain (Isaiah 30:29) and a quarry from whence the people of God were hewn (Isaiah 51:1). Intriguingly, Isaiah 48:21 rehearses that familiar scene of God providing water from the rock, just as we saw already in Psalm 78:16,20,35; 105:41; Numbers 9:15; Numbers 20:8 and Exodus 17:6. 

Whenever we see the same event repeated throughout the Bible and additional theological meaning assigned to it, we can be sure that we are beholding what scholars call "a scripture echo". Such echoes provide the marvelous insights we find about Jesus in the New Testament (especially 1 Corinthians 10:6).The final mention of the Divine title "Rock" in the prophetic books and the Old Testament is discovered in Habakkuk 1:12 "Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct."

More next time....

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Remedy For Mankind's Spiritual Crisis - Romans 1:18-2:4

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Romans 1:18-20 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

Have you ever been in a crisis? Whether small ones or big ones, crises make us feel trapped, hopeless, helpless and near the prospect of death. Fear too can accompany a crisis. Sometimes we can be in a crisis and not even realize it. Recently I had attempted to travel during the Christmas season. When I had left home, the weather was already severe. The part of the world where we live is known for its harsh and cold winters, and so I figured it was par-for-the-course. When I got on the main thoroughfare, I saw flashing signs with these words: "lake effect snow warning in effect". My instincts told me to drive very slowly. 

As the miles dragged on with a creeping pace, I began to see further warnings, flashing their urgent messages. I knew then I might need to think about turning back. Soon the traffic I was traveling with gradually came to a halt. There we were in a "white-out". It didn't take long before I witnessed tow-trucks and even big snow plows in ditches along the berms of the road. These combined warnings prompted me to turn about and head back home. I would find out later that they had shut down that stretch of highway for the night. Warnings are there for a reason. 

When we come to Romans 1:18, we find a Heavenly warning: "For the wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven". Today’s post will feature the beginning part of Paul’s explanation in Romans 1:18-3:20 about mankind’s threefold crisis before God: spiritual, moral and relational.  The only remedy adequate to deal with all three is the Gospel. We find in the first leg of Paul's exposition on the Gospel the "bad news" (1:18-3:20): that mankind is in spiritual crisis (1:18-2:4); moral crisis (2:5-16) and a relational crisis (2:17-3:20). The spiritual crisis that we will be exploring in Romans 1:18-2:4 is of the most severe sort. What then is the magnitude of this spiritual crisis? How bad off is mankind? Truly before we can appreciate the good news of the Gospel, we must first understand the bad news.

1. God's Warning From Heaven. Romans 1:18

What is God's wrath? One writer has identified God's wrath as His standing opposition against sin. New Testament scholar Douglass Moo writes the following about God's wrath:

"As long as God is God, He cannot behold with indifference that His creation is destroyed and His holy will trodden underfoot. Therefore He meets sin with His mighty and annihilating reaction."

The Old Testament prophets mention the wrath of God in their pronouncements. Nahum 1:3-4 states: "A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; The Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. 3 The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet." Or again, Habakkuk 1:12-13 "Are You not from everlasting,
O Lord, my God, my Holy One?
We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct.
13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?"

To not warn people of a flooded out bridge or blizzard warnings would be tantamount to a moral defect in the messenger. God's warning of coming wrath is not Him being a mean and over-bearing God, but rather a God of grace who extends the opportunity for people to believe, repent and be saved from such wrath. In the context of both these verses, God's wrath functions like a black cloth to accentuate the precious jewels of His other moral attributes such as mercy (Nahum 1:7) and glory (Habakkuk 2:14) and grace (see Habakkuk 3). The wrath of God is essential in understanding how God's holiness against sin functions in perfect balance with His holiness for righteousness in perfect love. 

The Old Testament is not the only part of the Bible that communicates about God's wrath. When we see Jesus for example cleansing the temple in John 2, we see Him expressing wrath over the injustice and profane actions going on in the temple. Undoubtedly Paul's opening lines in the main body of His exposition on the Gospel features this attribute of God. Sadly, God's wrath has gotten so much bad press in both the culture and the church. As always, the bad press is due to misunderstanding and failure on the part of those who criticize Christianity in not reading the context of places we find God's wrath. It could be also said that the blame falls equally on preachers and the church for neglecting this important attribute of God.

We must subject our preconceived notions of God to the text of scripture and not the other way around. I could say more, but, the reader is invited to read further on God's wrath here: .

With this warning about God's wrath from heaven, we need to then inquire what it is that God's is expressing His wrath about. It is in Romans 1:19-20 that we find the root of man's spiritual crisis.

2. General Truths Everyone Knows. Romans 1:19-20

What if I told you that the external world about us is not a mirage but real - would you be surprised? Or, what if I told you that your memories of the past and the breakfast in your stomach was not a series of false memories planted with the appearance of age - what would you say? Such statements are patently obvious to the rationally thinking person. As a matter of fact, we can accept such statements on the face of things without appealing to long draw-out arguments due to them being "properly basic". In other words, all people know this stuff. 

Paul's argument here in Romans 1:19-20 is that everyone know that there is a God to whom they are accountable. Everyone knows that God exists. Romans 1:19-20 classify this knowledge of God in two respects: we know God is all powerful and we know He is all good. All human beings not only possess this "general revelation" in knowing about God, they apparently possess this knowledge on the inside. This is knowledge we are born with and possess from birth. All of our moral intuitions (the sense of right and wrong, good and bad) stem not from biological evolution but from the Creator Who embedded morality into the fabric of reality and humanity. This is what everyone knows, and yet, this is knowledge that all humanity, apart from grace - soundly rejects. Hence we find the root of mankind's spiritual crisis.

3. Great Spiritual Crisis. Romans 1:21-2:3

So is mankind inherently good or bad? Is mankind the beacon of hope or the burnt-out ember lost and adrift in a sea of darkness? 

Older Bible teachers refer to mankind's spiritual condition in terms of depravity. This doesn't mean people are as bad as they could be. Rather, sin has effected every nook and cranny of humanity as a whole and on the individual level. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 notes about mankind's sinful condition:

"By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God."

Mankind, though capable of noble achievements in art, literature, architecture, human thought, athleticism and exploration - lacks two abilities: the inability to solve their sin problem and the inability to do anything toward their own salvation with respect to God. Paul's following description of man's spiritual crisis matches Jesus' assessment in Mark 7:21-22 - "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Fallen man is not a sick person on a sick-bed in need of medicine, rather mankind is like a corpse in need of a resurrection.  If we were to summarize Paul's explanation of the spiritual crisis of humanity, we could do so in terms of how human beings "prefer" aspects of the creation over the Creator:  

A. Preference of things over God. 1:21-24

B. Preference of lies to truth. 1:25-26a

C. Preference of man's plans to God's purpose. 1:26b-28

D. Preference of their own destruction to God's best. 1:29-2:3

If the reader is a Christian, how then are you to deal with this crisis? Although Christians by definition have been rescued and "saved" from God's wrath and the spiritual crisis described here by Paul, we nonetheless still deal with the left-over remnants of the old life residing in our bodies and souls. Paul writes in Colossians 3:5-11 "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all." 

So we find then that God is warning from heaven concerning the fact that even though everyone knows about Him, nonetheless sinful man prefers the creation over the Creator. Apart from grace, sinful man will vote against God 100% of the time. This crisis is poignantly captured by Jesus responding to the disciples' shock over the failure of the rich young ruler to respond to Jesus in Matthew 19:25-26 - "When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Hence let's consider one last thought for today...

4. God's remedy you must receive. Romans 2:4

We read in Romans 2:4 "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?" As Paul closes out this particular exposition on the spiritual crisis of humanity, we find the hope of the Gospel. Romans 2:1-4 in particular reminds the Christian reader that before they point the long wagging finger of condemnation against unbelievers, they need to be sure to consider their own spiritual condition. Were it not for the grace of God, the Christian would be no better. The Apostle Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 4:16-18 "but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?"

Christians need the remedy of the Gospel for continuance in sanctification. Undoubtedly Paul's insistence upon this remedy of the Gospel is to hold out hope to the sinner who is otherwise in a state of spiritual crisis. It is God who leads people to repentance. It is God who reveals Himself in the general revelation of nature and the special revelation of the Bible and Jesus so as to bridge the gulf of fallen man unto Himself. 

Closing thought for today
Wherever there is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-12); a heart prepared by Him and open to the truth, ready to respond, believe, repent and thus be saved (Acts 16:14-15, 31; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:24-26); and God's Word (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23) - expect change. Expect salvation. Pray for such things. For only in the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can the remedy for our spiritual crisis be found.