Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Faith Of Abraham

Romans 4:13-25

God’s promise was made to Abraham before the birth of Ishmael, who was more than 13 years older than Isaac. Isaac was 40 when he married Rebekah, who did not have children right away. Isaac’s son Jacob was 130 years old when the children of Israel went into Egypt in Genesis 4:9. The people then spent 430 years in Egypt, according to Exodus 12:40. The law was given during the three months after they left Egypt, in Exodus 19-23. The Law was more than 600 years after the promise was made, and Paul’s comment in Galatians just refers to the period of captivity in Egypt. It could in no way affect the patriarchs before that captivity.

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.”(Romans 4:13-15)

Abraham had been dead more than 500 years, and his grandson Jacob for more than 400 when the Law was given. It could in no way affect any commitment to them. Obedience to the Law could only be demanded as a standard of fulfillment if the original promise was voided, making the promise to Abraham meaningless. It is impossible to break a law which hasn’t been made, so there could be no sin, if the Law was the standard. The Law enables judgment, by setting the standard. Romans 3:20 says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

The promise to Abraham was base on his belief or faith in God to keep his promise, not in obeying the Law. Since the Law came 600 years later, it could not replace the original promise, since Abraham was no longer alive to agree to such a change. The original contract still stands. God doesn’t break his contracts.

“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:16-17)

Had the giving of the Law voided the original contract, all those before the Law would have been disqualified. Because the original contract still stands, they are still considered. It also admits others, who are not covered by the law. It opens the door for non-Jews as well as Jews, fulfilling God’s promise to make him a father of many nations, not just of Israel. It is based on the truthfulness of God, not man’s efforts to keep the law. It is a sure thing. If it depended on our efforts, it would never be sure, because we fail so often

At one hundred years old, and Sarah at ninety, there was no normal way that they could have a baby. Her body would no longer be capable of conception, even if Abraham could provide the sperm. A miracle would be required. There was nothing Abraham could do to make it happen. Despite this obvious impossibility, Abraham believed God, trusting him to do what he promised.

"Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:18-21)

Because Abraham decided to trust God when there was no possibility that any thing normal could cause him to have a child, God imputed or credited it to him as being righteous. This same righteousness will be imputed to us if we place our faith in God the same way, recognizing that nothing we do will have any effect in saving us. It was written this way so we could understand salvation is purely through God’s work.

“And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:22-25)

Our own efforts have nothing to do with saving us. Ephesians 2:8-9 state that it is a gift from God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” In the passage on the importance of works, in James 2, Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac as a sacrifice is described to show that real faith results in obedience, even though the action may seem counter productive. His action demonstrated his faith and resulted in his faith being confirmed. The faith and the promise were declared years before the action.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Promise To Abraham

Romans 4:1-12

The Jews were some of the most religious people of their day. Their claims as God’s chosen people were widely known, because the Jews were scattered throughout the known world. Many of the early Christians, even in the church at Rome were of Jewish extraction, and references to Abraham would be easily understood, even by non-Jewish believers. Abraham was the progenitor of the Jewish Race.

When Abram, later known as Abraham, was seventy five years old. God sent him on a journey, not knowing where he was going. Several years later, having obeyed in going, and having trusted God to give victory refusing worldly rewards offered by the King of Sodom, God spoke to Abram in Genesis 15:4-6. “And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."

Over eighty, and with his wife over seventy, it was an incredible promise, but Abraham believed it. Because of their advanced age, they tried to make it happen in a natural fashion, but their faith was real. God counted his belief as righteousness.

“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. Ro 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:1-3)

When a man agrees to work for a certain wage, his wage is owed to him. The one he worked for is in debt to him until he is paid. The payment is not a gift, but a debt. When something is given that has not been earned, it is grace, a gift. God credited Abraham with righteousness jus because he believed on him.

“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:4-8)

Righteousness means that there is no sin for which a penalty is due. The books are even. God credited Abraham with righteousness because he believed God, even though he had sinned in lying to Pharaoh. God would not hold him accountable for the lying, nor for any sinful attitude of his heart. About fifteen years later, Abraham was instructed to begin circumcising his heirs as a sign of their faith in God, and was circumcised himself. It was the faith, not the circumcision, that resulted in his being declared righteous.

“Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.” (Romans 4:9-12)

Once a contract is agreed upon, neither side has authority to change the requirements. When God accepted faith as Abraham’s righteousness he could not then change the rules, demanding circumcision. The Old testament Law was given more than 430 years later. It was not part of the contract either. The covenant was to Abraham and his descendents by a promise that did not include the Law.

“Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:15-18)

Any agreement involving the Law is a separate agreement, and in fact the Law was part of an agreement with Israel relating to physical blessings on earth. Deuteronomy 11, 15, and 28 all describe the earthly benefits of keeping the Law, and the earthly consequences of disobedience. Nothing is said relating to being righteous, as was promised to Abraham. The promise to Abraham was a better promise than the one to Moses.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saved By Grace

Romans 3:20-31

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)

To keep the Law, one must choose not to do what his heart suggests. The heart often deceives us into believing we have done right while doing wrong. Jeremiah 17:9-10 declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” The Law is only able to deal with the outward actions, not the intentions of the heart, and the corresponding results of our actions. God judges both.

“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” (Galatians 3:19 ) The Law was given as a result of sin so man could know what right and wrong were since sin had defiled the conscience according to Titus 1:15, and it could no longer be trusted. The sacrifices for sin could defer judgment until a solution was ready. It was a fully authorized temporary expedient, but now the postponement has expired.

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)

Under the Law, Sacrifices of animals postponed judgment for sin, but as Hebrews 10:3-4 informs us, each sacrifice only extended the postponment, reminding all of the impending judgment . “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." They never eliminated the sin, just postponed judgment. Christ did something different.

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11-14)

The demands of the Law were adequate for their purpose, postponing judgment on earth. As such an earthly model of the tabernacle, and animal sacrifices was sufficient. The permanent solution required a better sacrifice at the real judgment seat, as Hebrews 9:23-24 tells us. “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”

As a result of his work, offering a better sacrifice on the real altar, he was able to pay completely for our sin. I John 2:2 declares, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” He offers to pay off the sin debt of everyone who applies, and the capital is there.

Many companies and individuals fail because they are too proud to apply for help. If they succeed, they want to boast, “I did it myself.” By accepting Christ’s offer we give up that privilege. We can no longer claim to be better than others, or even to have been good enough.

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.” (Romans 3:27-30)

Our salvation requires giving up our pride and accepting Christ’s sacrifice for us. Paul had fulfilled all the Law and described what he had to do in Philippians 3:7-9. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

We cannot earn our salvation, and God has chosen to make it that way so we cannot brag about what we have done. In Ephesians 2:8-10 we find, “Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Our good works are a result of his work, just as our salvation is.

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)

By paying the full penalty demanded by the Law, we acknowledge it as Law. No one is exempt. The Law has not been violated by our forgiveness. The requirements have all been met, and exceeded.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sin Is Universal

Romans 3:10-19

Driving down a back road, I saw the bloated body of a skunk that had been run over. It stunk horribly. A couple of miles farther, I saw a deer carcass, which also stunk, although not as much. Ravens were eating from both bodies. My first thought was that I couldn’t see how the ravens could eat the skunk. Then I realized that the difference was just a matter of smell. Both were rotten, and unfit for human consumption.

People tend to think that the rotten deer is better than the skunk because it smells better, but they are equally dangerous to eat because they have begun to rot. The smell is not dangerous, the decayed flesh is. It is human nature to believe what I do is petter than what the other person does, but what I think is not the important standard. Proverbs 21:2 states, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”

When the Lord looks at mankind, he looks deeper than the surface activity and appearance. When God sent Samuel to anoint a man to take Saul’s place as king, in I Samuel 16: 7, he stressed this. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

Man likes to imagine doing evil, and pats himself on the back because he didn’t actually do it. Pornography is one example of this behavior. Jesus condemned it when he said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart,” in Matthew 5:27-28. While it may not stink as bad as really doing it, it is just as wrong.

Wicked actions are always a result of a person’s thoughts. No one just robs a bank without thinking of having the money first. Not all crimes are pre- meditated to the point of planning, but all are the result of a person’s thoughts. Matthew 15:19-20 makes it clear thaes are the real problem. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

While there are many who live an apparently good life, when God looks on the heart, he sees what is there. As Genesis 6:5 tells us, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The conclusion is inevitable.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-17)

Man tends to think that if he lives without violating some moral code he is doing well. The Law, as given to Moses by God, is the most dependable of these moral codes. Properly applied, it is valuable. I Timothy 1:8-10 specifies who the Law applies to. “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;”

A no left turn sign warns the person who wants to turn left that he will be doing wrong if he does so. If he turns left, he is breaking the law, whether he saw the sign, or not. For a person who had no intention of turning left, the sign is irrelevant. The sign is only for the person who wants to turn left. The Law served much the same purpose, warning that we must not do the sin. It does nothing about the thought. It just identifies what is wrong.

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20)

All the Law did, or could do, was make us aware of our guilt. It could do nothing about the attitude of our heart. It could only make us feel guilty, not make us righteous. Galatians 3:21 says that if it could have, then the Law would have been enough. “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.“ Instead, verse 22 tells us, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Manual is Only Helpful When It is Followed

Romans 3:1-11

Over the years I have worked on a great many furnaces. Older furnaces nearly all used a standing pilot system. Older furnaces were made in such a way that reduced airflow just made the furnace less efficient. Newer furnaces, on the other hand trip safety settings, and may shut down for several hours. Without the manual for the furnace, a person can spend hours trying to find the problem. A technician who has a manual has all the advantages, because it tells him where to look and describes possible causes. Unfortunately, some technicians don’t bother to read the manual, or don’t follow it. It doesn’t help them much.

The Jews had the advantage of having the manual. They had received the oracles, the very words of God, of which circumcision was supposed to be a symbol. Unfortunately, many didn’t believe and didn’t practice what God said.

“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. ” (Romans 3:1-4)

When they came out of Egypt, many of the Israelites did not believe God’s promise to give them the land of Canaan, and refused to go. They spent forty years in the wilderness, until they all died. Then the others went in and took the land. God still kept his promise, but those who didn’t believe missed out. Hebrews 13:16-19 explains. “For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."

The lack of belief changed their experience, but did not change God’s actions. II Timothy 2:11-13 makes the same point. “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” Our faith or lack of faith will change our experience, but it will not change God’s promise.

A furnace technician who did not follow the instructions in the manual may blame the manufacturer for the furnace not working. If he calls the support number and they are able to fix the problem by following the instructions, it shows how well they understand their product. They also have the right to refuse to pay for the repairs since the instructions were not followed. It is not their fault. Deliberately doing it wrong so they’ll have to come fix it right will not make them happy. It won’t make God happy either.

“But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.” (Romans 3:5-8)

Just having a manual does not guarantee a proper furnace installation, but if it is followed it will. Just having the word of God does not guarantee a proper life style. If the job is not done properly, it wrong whether they had instructions or not. Both Jews and Gentiles tend to ignore the instructions, and do wrong. One is not better than the other.

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:9-11)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Meaningless Worship

Romans 2:25-29

In Matthew 21:28-31, Jesus tells the story of a father asking his sons to work in his field. “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

The second son promised to work for his father, but never did so. His promise was meaningless. The one who had refused was the one who did the work. The Jews placed great emphasis on circumcision as a sign of a willingness to obey God. When they refused to obey, their circumcision became as meaningless as the second son’s promise. The reward received will be based on what was done, not on what was promised.

“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?” (Romans 2:25-27)

The first son’s decision to obey was worth far more to his father than the second son’s promise. In fact, his obedience highlights the second son’s lie. In the same way, those who have made no claim of godliness but do what is right highlight the sin of those who claim to be but do wrong. James says that partial obedience is still disobedience.

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:10-13)

Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisee that they were breaking God’s law by following tradition. In doing so their worship was meaningless. They were not really worshipping him at all.

“But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:3-9)

In Matthew 23:4-5 Jesus stressed that their efforts, and even the standards they set, were all to impress people, not to live by. “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.” In Matthew 23:14 he says it was all a pretence. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” They would receive greater punishment for pretending than those didn’t.

God is not impressed with a show. People who do not truly worship God are not in fact Jews, regardless of their following Jewish customs and traditions, or their Jewish descent. The heart attitude or spirit, rather than the actions or birth is the determining factor.

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Romans 2:28-29)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Actions Count More Than Words

Romans 2:12-16

To obtain a driver’s license in most states, one first must pass a written test demonstrating familiarity with the laws governing motor vehicles. One is then issued a learner’s permit so one can practice when accompanied by a qualified instructor. When one has developed the necessary skills, one is required to demonstrate their driving skill, and if it is satisfactory, may receive a driver’s license. No license will be issued until the ability to drive has been demonstrated.

Once a license is granted, the driver is expected to obey the traffic laws and operate the vehicle in a satisfactory manner. Failure to do so may result in fines, or suspension or revocation of the license. Knowledge of the traffic laws is not enough, they are to be obeyed.

In similar manner, obedience to the moral and ethical standards of God is far more critical than the ability to quote them. A person who has no training but does the correct things because he thinks that is the right way is much less dangerous than the person who knows the proper way but chooses to ignore it. Doing the wrong thing may cause an accident regardless whether one knew it was wrong or not. Just as passing the written driver’s test does not qualify one to drive, knowing right and wrong does not qualify one for heaven. It is the actions that determine the result.

“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.“ (Romans 2:12-16)

Sometimes a little knowledge is leads to worse problems. Several years ago a certified gas pipeline welder was describing a project he was working on. Another man, who had a lot of experience in structural welding and repair work insisted that he use a different type of rod because it left a better looking weld, and was much easier to use. The pipeline welder became quite frustrated after a while. The rod the second man was recommending was really good rod, but it did not meet the specifications for the pipe line he was working on. To use it would cause the line to be rejected, and cost him his job and possibly his certification. While the other man was a really good welder, he was not qualified for pipe lines. His advice could not be trusted in doing pipeline work, because he did not understand the limits of his knowledge.

I Corinthians 8:1-2 warns, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” Like the welder in the story, the Jews failed to recognize the limits of their knowledge. They believed they were qualified to teach others because they had the academic training and intellectual understanding.

“Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” (Romans 2:17-20)

Unfortunately, they were like many college professors. They have a thorough academic understanding of the subject, having earned a Master’s, or Doctoral degree in their field, but have never worked ing the field. Their only practical work has been in a lab setting doing a carefully designed and controlled experiment. They were not themselves learning how to actually do the work.

“Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.” (Romans 2:21-24)

In the American education system, political figures, administrators, and college professors who have no understanding of the limits of their knowledge are setting guidelines and programs that are resulting in frustration with the educational system. Good teachers are frustrated by continual interference, students are frustrated by the constant changes and parents and employers are dismayed by the lack of learning. While the school’s avowed purpose is to educate the children, the majority of funding is devoted to developing a sports program, extracurricular activities, and administrative activities. Frustration with our schools is at an all time high.

Religious leaders today often do the same thing. Setting up standards that actually hinder spiritual development and turn people from God. Jesus describes the actions of the scribes and Pharisees, The Doctors and masters of their day in Matthew 23:13-28.

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” (Matthew 23:13-14)

The scribes and Pharisees often demanded standards that were nearly impossible to meet, while totally ignoring or breaking God’s cammandments, just as many religious leaders and groups today. They also work tremendously hard to get some one into the church, then teach a totally distorted standard, with the result he is worse off than when he started.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!

Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.” (Matthew 23:15-22)

Finally, the academic leaders had become so caught up in minor issues they completely overlooked the major problems. Style of music, or clothing, or number of professions, or Bible version becomes more important than true spiritual life. Appearance is everything.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23:23-28)

Their actions are causing God to be blasphemed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Man Is Not Qualified To Set The Standard

Romans 2:1-11

Several years ago, I listened to a pastor talk about how evil it was that people used Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” After all, I Corinthians 6:2 said we were qualified to judge the world. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” John 7:24 told us to “judge righteous judgment.” It was our responsibility to judge! Had he checked out the rest of the passages, he would have found that none of them supported his conclusion.

I Corinthians 6:1-8 is talking about resolving conflicts between Christians, not about identifying sin among others. In John 7:24 Jesus is talking about properly applying judgment, rather than jumping to a conclusion without considering the circumstances, but that will only be seen by reading John 7:22-24.

Matthew 7:1-5 Talks about the danger of sin in our own life distorting our judgment, resulting in doing more harm than the sin they may have done. Titus 1:15-16 Describes the effect. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”

We hear that we should follow our heart, or our conscience today, but Titus tells us that a sinful attitude corrupts our standards so much we can’t depend on either the conscience or the mind. Jeremiah 17:9 describes the heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” It cannot be trusted. Romans 1:28-32 described the attitudes that control man’s thinking as a result of his rejection of God. They are corrupt. Man is not qualified to judge others because his standards are rotten.

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:1-4)

Standards distorted by our own sinful attitudes cause us to condemn actions that were proper, and excuse ones that were wrong. They cause us to assume others acted on the same motivation we would have, judging others harshly, because we know what we would have done. Often we accuse others like a little child, in hopes that others will be blamed and we’ll get by with it. We forget that Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” We don’t fool him.

God allows man to experience the consequences of rejecting him and the resulting attitudes in hopes that man will choose to change his attitude and accept God’s authority. II Peter 3:9 is very clear about this. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

By accusing and condemning others and excusing ourselves, and not repenting, we treasure our sin. We’re like the person with emphysema, who refuses to stop smoking. His smoking is more important to him than his life. He has chosen to die that way.

“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2:5-11)

There will be no miscarriage of justice with God. Nahum 1:3 warns, “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked:” We are fooling ourselves to think we can get by with our sin. Galatians 6:7-8 tells us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Colossians 3:24-25 states that judgment and rewards will not be affected by favoritism or predjudice. “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” Psalm 9:17 stresses that all will suffer the same fate who do evil. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spiritual terrorism

Romans 1:28-32

Rebel groups are found around the world. Some have legitimate grounds for rebellion, being under a tyrannical government, which often is trying to exterminate their race. In these cases there is an effort to protect innocent people. In other cases, the rebellion is the result of a group who wants to control everyone else. These are the groups which want to form such tyrannical governments and use them to enrich themselves. They destroy even the ones they purport to be trying to help. They are the terrorists who bomb public markets and hotels rather than military installations, and pride themselves on killing one enemy, even though they killed dozens of their own people in the process.

Such groups try to destroy any reminder of the ruling groups authority, including signs, post offices, and protective services despite the harmful effects of destroying such basic infrastructure. They want no reminders of their own lack of control. Those who rebel against God have a similar attitude.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:28-32)

The situation is much like the Palestinians, who have been allowed to have their own government though they occupy land conquered by Israel, or like the IRA in north Ireland, whose only freedom comes from England and the rest of Ireland allowing them to practice their own government on land that has been conqured by England. Despite repeated efforts to develop peace, they persist in attacking and destroying those around them.

An attitude of lawlessness and fear pervades the atmosphere, even for those not actively involved in the rebellion. Those who violate the legal, ethical and moral standards are praised and rewarded. A culture of wickedness prevails in the society, and those who try to improve it are hated.

Those who rebel against God are often highly religious, but their lives are controlled by evil. They are “filled with all unrighteousness.” They are caught up in sexual sin or “fornication,” from promiscuity to adultery to homosexuality and bestiality. “Wickedness,” from vandalism to animal abuse to attacking people on the streets is considered funny. The desire to take what others has, or “covetousness,” rather than earning it oneself becomes the norm. Being full of “maliciousness,” They take pleasure in being able to hurt others, whether physically or verbally.

Full of envy,” they resent other people having things or being respected. “Murder“ is considered as a way of resolving conflict. “Debate," or argument is a way of life, as is “deceit” Bitterness, anger, and hatred, or “malignity” characterize their attitudes. They become spreaders of rumor or “whisperers,” and “backbiters,” or betrayers of their friends. As “haters of God,” they mock, attempt to discredit, or attack those who believe.

They are “despiteful,” or spiteful, deliberately causing trouble. They are “proud,” even when they have done nothing to be proud of. “Boasters” often take credit for things they haven‘t done, or try to make minor or bad actions appear as a great accomplishment, like the tailor who killed seven flies at once, then made a banner proclaiming “Seven at One Blow.” Much energy is spent planning pornographic books and movies or planning crimes by “inventors of evil things.” Lack of respect results in being “disobedient to parents.”

Refusing to accept limitations, they ignore mechanical and logical principles in their decisions because they are “without understanding.” Their word, or even a signed contract means little to “covenant breakers.” “Natural affection,” such as the love for ones children or parents, or mate is replaced with an attitude of selfishness, resulting in infidelity, domestic violence and physical and verbal abuse. They are “implacable,” or never satisfied, always demanding more, whether money, belongings, or revenge. They become “unmerciful,” extracting every thing the can.

“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” (Romans 1:32). These attitudes, and the people who do these things begin to be admired by those have rejected God, as is demonstrated by the popularity of Gangster Rap music, Television programs like most reality shows and movies, and fan clubs for mass murderers like Jeffrey Dahmer. Terrorist organizations depend on such admiration for new recruits.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Manifesting The Rejection

Romans 1:24-27

Luke 15-11-24 tells the story of the Prodigal son. The attitude is so typical of humanity’s attitude today. Unfortunately many never come to the point of coming back although II Peter 3:9 tells us that is why God lets us continue as long as he does. Let’s look at the first part of the story.

“And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.” (Luke 15-11-16)

Not appreciating his father’s provision, the young man selfishly took what his father provided and went to do as he pleased. His father allowed him to go in hopes that when he learned the results, he’d come back. Sure enough, for a while it seemed better than living at home, but eventually the consequences of his actions caught up. He was finally so degraded that he would have eaten the pig’s leftovers, if there had been any, but nobody considered it worth giving him anything. Only at the point of starvation did the young man acknowledge his error and return home. Mankind has behaved the same way, with the same results.

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:24-25)

Rejecting God’s authority, humanity has turned to worship created things such as “Mother Earth,” or nature, animals, science, government, or man himself. They have rejected God’s standards and advice for pleasure, and have degraded themselves even below the standard of the animals in desperate efforts to gain satisfaction. One area where this rejection of God’s authority is especially obvious is in sexual attitudes and behavior.

Both Matthew 19:5-6 and Mark 10:7-9 make it clear that God has not placed marriage under man’s authority, stating, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” God has not given authority over marriage to family, church, nor government. No human or organization has the authority to join or separate them.

Exodus 22:16 stated the action required in case of “pre-marital” sex. “And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29 makes it clear this applies whether the sex was consensual or rape. “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”

Sexual relations with someone other than ones own husband or wife required execution according to Leviticus 20:10. “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”

Sex served to bind and strengthen human relationships, and to reproduce the human race. Promiscuous sex rejects God’s authority, and is worthy of death. Homosexuality rejects the very purpose of sex, and is the ultimate in rejection of God’s authority.
Because of their rejection, God has allowed man to go his own way for a time, to experience the degradation resulting from his sin, in hopes that some will turn back to him.

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1:26-27)

Just as promiscuous sex deserved the death penalty for rejecting God’s authority, so did homosexual or Lesbian behavior. Leviticus 20:13 commanded, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” They deserve the judgment of God. He is willing to forgive, but it is their choice.

Man’s Rejection Of God

Romans 1:18-23

I will probably never forget a woman I know expressing her anger toward her father for telling her “as long as you but your feet under my table you live by my rules,” when she was about sixteen. Forty years later she was still angry, and last time we talked she was still resentful. She ignored the fact that because of her age he was still responsible for her actions, that he had paid for her food, her home, her clothes, and her schooling for sixteen years, and had given her life. Interestingly, she is far harsher and more demanding with her grandchildren than her father ever was with her.

Like the lady, mankind has rebelled almost constantly against God, with a few exceptions. That they owe their very existence to him, that he owns the world they live in, and provides the air they breathe never occurs to them. They brag of earning their own living, never recognizing that they have the health and the opportunity to work is because he made it available. They claim rights as citizens of our country, based on the Declaration of Independence which declares them to be “God given,” but deny his very existence, and refuse to heed his advice or instructions.

After creation, mankind rebelled to such a degree that God could no longer put up with their rebellion. Initially, he just limited their life span to stop the ongoing rebellion. Genesis 6:3 states, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”

New generations continued to rebel and the wickedness grew. Genesis 6:5-7 describes the situation. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.”

Only one man, Noah appreciated what God had done and paid attention, so God had Noah build an ark to save samples of all life. He then sent a flood to destroy those who had rebelled. Genesis 7:23 describes the result. “And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.”

About two hundred years after the flood, man again rebelled, building the tower of Babel in an attempt to prevent fulfilling Gods command to fill the whole earth in Genesis 1, by keeping everyone together. God destroyed the alliances and scattered them.

God has repeatedly destroyed nations for their wickedness, and warned that one day he would again destroy life from the earth, using fire rather than water next time. Mankind has chosen to ignore warnings as II Peter 3:5-10 warns. “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."

God has delayed judgment to give individuals the opportunity to turn back, knowing that mankind as a whole will not. He cannot bear to look upon the sin, but he is willing to forgive anyone who will turn from their sin. Judgment will come.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21)

Slightly over 50% of modern working research scientists claim to believe in God, saying their findings force to accept his existence. Over 90% of theoreticians and college professors, on the other hand, claim they do not. Paul says that everyone can learn enough about God from observing the natural things around us to come to him. Acts 17:27 makes it clear he will reveal himself to anyone who looks. Choosing to ignore God, man has tried to replace him with things God made. They worship other men, animals, birds, earth, planets or stars, or even education or science.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” (Romans 1:22-23)

Throughout history, far more effort has been devoted to diverting man’s attention from God than to finding the truth, by religious organizations as well as secular governments. Many ridiculous positions have been adopted as a result. They cannot plead ignorance when they have chosen not to know. It is significant that the word ‘agnostic’ means “against knowing”.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Salvation Is For Everyone

Romans 1:14-17

Racial prejudice has been a problem throughout history. Simeon and Levi murdering the family of Hamor because Shechem wanted to marry Dinah in Genesis 34 is just one example. We still see efforts to eliminate another race in Palestine, in Iraq, in the Congo and other African countries, in Ireland, and in several eastern European countries. They are no different than Hitler’s attacks on the Jews.

In Paul’s day the prejudice was just as strong, with the Jews looking down on everyone else because they were “God’s people.” Ignoring that God had brought them under Roman domination for their own sin, they hated the Romans because they had authority over them, rebelling at every opportunity. They hated the idea of others, and especially the Romans being saved.

While Paul was a Jew, he had a great obligation to the people around him. Beside the spiritual responsibility given by God, his culture, his education, and his freedom were partly results of the non-Jewish peoples, around them, preserving peace, and providing food and transportation. Preaching the gospel was a way of fulfilling the obligation. Every race has contributed to our present world at various times in history.

“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” (Romans 1:14-15)

Sometimes, as we look at the pageantry of other religions, we are a little in awe of the tremendous ceremonies and temples or mosques. We feel unable to compete with the pomp and splendor of such groups. Academic degrees, or public acclaim often produce similar feelings of inferiority. We hesitate to speak of Christ, or to openly serve him when surrounded and out numbered by other groups.

Prior to and during the Revolutionary war, many were overawed by the British army with it’s beautiful uniforms, precision marching, powerful weapons, and vast financial and political support. Despite a lack of support, inferior weapons, food shortages, and inferior numbers, Washington and the American army defeated the British. The war was not won by pomp and ceremony, powerful weapons or by decorated officers, but by the dedicated fighting of patriots. Like David when he saw Goliath, Paul refused to be overawed.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

Confronting Goliath, David observed that Goliath came depending on his strength and his weapons, but David was depending on God. Man is unable to save himself, but God can and has promised to do so for everyone who believes. As II Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He desires that everyone be saved.

The Jews had the first opportunity to hear and receive Christ, but it wasn’t limited to the Jews. Later, in Romans 10:12-13, Paul states “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” His atonement is not limited. I John 2:2 tells us, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

By trusting God to do what he has promised, rather than trying to make it happen ourselves, we allow God to show his righteousness. When we try to make it happen ourselves, we conceal his righteousness. Our obedience demonstrates our trust. The Just, those who have been justified by him shall live by faith.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reason For Writing Romans

Romans 1:8-15

The Roman Christians were known throughout the world. Paul implies that at the time of this writing, he had not yet been to Rome. According to Galatians 2 there were at least fourteen years between Acts 9, when Paul was converted and Acts 15, when he returned to Jerusalem the first time.

Some time after his return from Jerusalem Paul began another journey, accompanied by Silas, during which he spent time in many places including more than a year and a half in Corinth, and two years and three months at Ephesus. On his return to Jerusalem, he spent three months in Greece, and at least another month traveling. He then spent at least two years as a prisoner in Ceasarea as a prisoner and several months traveling to Rome. We have no details as to the amount of time he spent in many other cities, other than saying he spent a good while at one. It is impossible to determine a date for Romans with any certainty.

Not knowing how much teaching they have had, Paul is praying for the Christians in Rome, that he may be able to come and see them.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (Romans 1:8-10)

Because he had not been there, and had met many like the disciples at Ephesus in Acts 19, who had only part of the story, Paul has a desire to come and address areas where they might be deficient. Personal contact would help identify those deficiencies and correct them so they could be fully equipped. This would comfort Paul as well, but he has been unable to come thus far. It explains why Paul goes to such lengths to lay out the entire doctrine of salvation and Christian living for the Romans. He knew what had been taught in other churches, and thus could focus on their specific needs, but he didn’t know about Rome. This implies Peter did not start the church at Rome, as Paul would have known what Peter had taught.

“For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.” (Romans 1:11-13)

Paul’s goal is that he impart a gift of understanding that will result in their establishment, that they be rooted and grounded in the truth, understanding the love and power that provided salvation for us, and the impact on our lives. Ephesians 3:16-19 describes the goal. “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

It should be the goal of every leader to develop a sound faith (having a solid foundation of truth) in every mature Christian according to Titus 2:1-2. “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.”

This is the purpose of the book of Romans. It is the original "discipleship" program.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Introduction to Romans

Romans 1:1-6

Paul identifies himself so there is no question as to authorship, as he did in his other books. He identifies himself as a servant or slave of Jesus Christ. He has been called or chosen to be an apostle, a special messenger, or commissioner, specifically bringing in a new message. Paul, like the other apostles, was delivering a new message, but it was the one promised by the prophets in the old testament.

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)” (Romans 1:1-2)

Paul next states what the letter is about. While there are similarities between the various letters, each addresses a specific need. In the process, each incorporates necessary teaching about doctrines from each of the others, and from the other prophets and apostles, to give a standard by which we can check and refine our understandings.

The book is about Jesus Christ, his earthly descent from the family of David as predicted in scripture, his divine nature and the proof supplied by his resurrection from the dead. It explains the motivation of God, and the means of obtaining salvation.

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:” (Romans 1:3-6)

Romans sets out in detail the sin nature of man, why Christ’s sacrifice was needed, The relationship to the Old Testament, and how to obtain salvation more completely than any other book. While each of the other books add detail and reinforce our understanding, Romans brings it all together in one place. It goes into detail about the effect in our daily earthly life, and like Hebrews, accentuates the danger of false professions.

The letter is addressed to all the Christians at Rome. Rome was a melting pot at the time, having Jews, Romans, Greeks, and many other ethnic groups. Their backgrounds varied widely, and Paul seeks to consolidate their understanding.

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7)

While the book of Hebrews covers many of the same ideas, there is a great deal of difference in the groups addressed. Hebrews is to a group that has had considerable teaching on the basics, but has never gone beyond that. Romans, on the other hand, is to newer Christians who may still not fully understand those basics, but are interested in learning.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Freedom To Choose

Philippians 1:10-25

In running away, Onesimus had deprived Philemon of the value of his investment and it’s resulting benefit. Philemon has been done wrong, and Paul recognizes that, yet he is asking that Onesimus be forgiven. Both repentance, and forgiveness require recognition of responsibility. One cannot repent of what he isn’t guilty of, and if he is not responsible, it is wrong to hold him guilty.

“I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.” (Philemon 1:10-14)

An apology is not the same as repentance. Real repentance requires accepting the responsibility, and a sincere desire to correct the wrong insofar as possible. Onesimus had become a Christian. To do so he had to repent of his sin. This included depriving Philemon of his rightful benefits. He needs to correct that sin, and Paul has encouraged him to return to his master, despite hating to see him go.

Knowing Philemon’s love, Paul believed that had he asked, Philemon would have gladly lent Onesimus to assist Paul, but to make that assumption would have been to deprive Philemon of the right to choose. God rewards those who voluntarily serve him. Those who are forced to have not earned a reward.

Paul points out that the running away, was allowed by God, perhaps for the purpose of making his relationship to Onesimus more than just that of master and servant. As a fellow Christian, the rebellion that caused him to run away should disappear, producing a much better relationship, as a servant and a Christian brother.

“For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?” (Philemon 1:15-16)

Paul then asks that Philemon give Onesimus the chance as a personal favor to Paul. He has that right because of the relationship he has previously established with Philemon. He offers to make good on any previous debt on Onesimus’ part. The offer demonstrates his confidence in Onesimus.

“If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.
If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord. Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.” (Philemon 1:17-21)

While Paul anticipates that Philemon will do as he asks, Paul makes it clear that the relationship between them is not dependent on his doing so. Paul is not trying to use their relationship to manipulate Philemon’s decision. Paul will visit regardless of his decision.

“But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” (Philemon 1:22-25)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Paul’s Demonstration Of Love

Philemon 1:1-9

Philemon is possibly the most detailed demonstration in the New Testament of applying Christian love. Other passages teach us about love, but here Paul shows us how to love each other. To understand love, we need to understand that the feelings are a consequence of, not the essence of love. Unfortunately, our society focuses on the feelings, leading to vast confusion.

We wonder how a mother can reject or even kill a child, when mother love seems so instinctive, yet we see it occur almost daily. Titus 2:4 describes part of the older woman’s responsibilities. “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,” That love needs to be taught shows that it does not occur automatically. Mothers who abuse or kill their children have never been taught to love.

The majority of people who win or inherit large amounts of money lose it within a short time. They have no idea what it takes to earn such an amount, and just set out to enjoy it while they have it. Proverbs 23:5 warns “for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” A person who has worked for his money has an appreciation of what it takes to get it, and tends to work harder at keeping it. People who think it comes as purely as a result of luck assume more will come and don’t take care of it. People have to choose what they want to do.

Love is much the same, in that we can choose whether to keep and increase it or to throw it away. When Jesus stated “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another,” in John 13:34, he emphasized our choice in love. We can choose to obey or to disobey.

One of the most effective ways of teaching is by example, and often people who have grown up without seeing the effort required to develop and maintain love. This is perhaps the biggest reason for our divorce rate, and the number of abuse cases in modern society.

Onesimus was a runaway slave. His flight cost his master, Philemon, a great deal of money. After his escape, Onesimus had met Paul and become a Christian. Desiring to please God, Onesimus decided to make things right with Philemon, who was also a Christian, and consulted Paul. Because Paul knew Philemon well, he elected to act as an intermediary between them.

Paul starts by a personal greeting. Love is a personal thing. It is not abstract or impersonal. You cannot love a group and hate the individuals. You have to love the individual people. To do so requires getting down to where they are, to understand their concerns, and their efforts. We see Paul doing so in his greeting to Philemon.

“Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer, And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philemon 1:1-3)

That Paul’s love for Philemon is real is obvious from the fact that he has followed his spiritual development. He is aware of his love for other Christians and his efforts to help them. He is aware that the church is holding services in Philemon’s home, and that he has done what he could to encourage and assist others. Genuine love is interested in the person loved, and Paul is clearly interested. It takes considerable effort to become this involved with people.

“I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints; That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in thy love, because the bowels of the saints are refreshed by thee, brother.” (Philemon 1:4-7)

Acting in love, Paul is careful not to demand obedience, although he could have done so. Rather than telling Philemon what to do, he requests his indulgence, based on his love. “Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” according to I Corinthians 13:4. It sets it’s pride and desires aside for the sake of others. Love respects the feelings and opinions of others rather than demanding it’s own way. I Corinthians 13: 5 says love “seeketh not her own.” Notice Paul’s approach.

“Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” (Philemon 1:8-9)

Love must be willing to risk the pain of refusal. It is often easier to avoid taking the risk, but the results are less satisfactory.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You’re Not Alone

Titus 3:12-15

Paul concludes his instructions to Titus in a manner similar to that of his other letters, but it reinforces another important aspect of ministry. We are not alone in our ministry.

Fleeing from Jezebel, Elijah hid in a cave on the mountain. When God asked why he was there, he answered in a depressed and discouraged manner, “And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away,” (I Kings 19:14).

While Elijah felt depressed, the fact was far different. God revealed that he was not alone. Not only was God there, but 7,000 others as well. “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him,” (I Kings 19:18). Elijah was to be responsible for anointing Jehu king of Israel, and training Elisha to take over his own job.

We are not alone in serving God, and we have responsibilities toward others who are, even though they may not be part of our ministry. To support missionaries, or to assist others in starting a church or dealing with problems enriches our ministry and strengthens theirs. Sometimes, just fellowshipping is crucial, especially for pastors in small struggling churches or who are just starting. Unfortunately, most conferences are geared for established and strong churches, rather than encouraging weak ones. Paul’s directions deal with meeting both the emotional and physical needs of Titus, and the others.

“When I shall send Artemas unto thee, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis: for I have determined there to winter. Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.” (Titus 3:12-13)

By taking the time to reach out to others in their ministry, Titus will also be setting an example for others, both those in Titus’ ministry, and those affected by Apollos, Zenas, and Paul. They will learn to love others, and it will result in fruit in their lives. Paul’s associates share their love in encouragement.

“And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.” (Titus 3:14-15)

Letting people know we care about them is essential. Proverbs 27:5 tells us that people need to know they matter. It declares, “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” Children who only get attention when they do wrong frequently do wrong to get the attention. We do not want to drive others out of the Lords work, or into sin because we didn’t bother to show we cared.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Ambassador Must Not Be Misled

Titus 3:8-11

Prior to the out break of World War II, both Germany and Japan had given assurances to English and American ambassadors that their buildup of troops was strictly a result of fear of attack by their neighbors were not for the purpose of invasion. At least two ambassadors were misled and assured English and American leaders that we had nothing to fear. In fact, they encouraged both England and America to assist Germany in her efforts to end the depression.

When Germany began to invade her neighbors, both England and America were caught off guard. The Blitzkrieg disrupted and neutralized opposition in most of Europe, and Germany was able to establish a strong military bases along the English Channel, within easy striking distance of London. They began to bomb England in preparation for invasion. Fortunately Churchill led England to begin to prepare against the advice of the diplomats, and when attacks began on England, they were able to prevent immediate invasion. The bombing of Pearl Harbor convinced America they could no longer remain neutral.

Since World War II, we have insisted that diplomatic efforts not ignore provocative activities. We cannot afford to just give free rein to those who wish to destroy us. While the ambassador is to try to promote peace, he is responsible for seeing we are protected.

As ambassadors for Christ, Christians must understand their responsibility to represent Christ as a loving and good Savior. Their actions will influence the attitude of the unsaved toward Christ. If Christians cannot get along with each other, or can’t be trusted to do good, it would be wise to not associate with them. James makes it clear that our actions demonstrate the reality of our faith in Christ. Several examples are given including the following.

“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:15-18)

Every believer ought to be doing good actions, and Titus is responsible for teaching them to do so.

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” (Titus 3:8)

The ambassadors of Christ must also recognize that he is responsible for preventing attacks on the faith of others. Sometimes the job is identifying enmity and deceit to avoid harm to one‘s own position.

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.“ (Titus 3:9)

Just as Germany used fears of Russian attack to distract from their plans to conquer their neighbors, Satan will often use other issues to distract us from his attack on our faith. To avoid distraction, it will be necessary not to get caught up in these issues. One of the things to be avoided is foolish questions, of which the classic example is that of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, which was debated for many years. The answer is irrelevant, since it contributes nothing to spiritual or physical life. Discussions about whether the locusts mentioned in Revelation 9:3 is describing attack helicopters appeal to vanity, but provide no useful benefit. They are a waste of time.

A person’s family history has little to do with his relationship to God. Eli was The High Priest, and could trace his family tree al the way back to Adam. It didn’t prevent his sons being described as sons of Belial or Satan in I Samuel 2:12. Each person chooses for himself. A family background is irrelevant to ones faith. The discussion focuses attention away from more important matters.

Contentions, or arguments are another ongoing distraction that prevent us seeing Satanic attacks on us and the church. These arguments can range from which version of the Bible to use, to how missionaries are to be supported, to what color the auditorium should be painted. I Corinthians 3:3 makes it clear these contentions are the result of a lack of spiritual development. “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

Like each of the others, strivings about the law, or doctrinal issues can distract from seeing what is really going on. They can also become a means of spiritual destruction. Legalism is discussed in several of Paul’s writings, especially Galatians, and appeared in Acts 15. It is still prevalent. Calvinism has been around for three hundred years. They are just two of many such issues, but they have destroyed the faith of thousands. We are to avoid such things “for they are unprofitable and vain.”(Titus 3:9b). They appeal to our pride, but detract from spiritual growth.

Some insist on teaching and believing unscriptural doctrine, even after being shown what the Bible teaches. In such case. Paul instructs, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself,” (Titus 3:10-11).

Heresy results from improper understanding of the scripture and from accepting other teachings as having similar impact. Paul instructed Timothy to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness,” In II Timothy 2:15-16.

Other teachings are not needed to understand what God desires. II Timothy 3:16-17 states, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” All of the scripture is applicable and relevant, and includes everything that is needed to fully please God.

II Peter 1:20-21 makes it clear that interpretation of scripture cannot be based on man’s opinion of what it says, but on God’s. This requires comparing God’s statements in other passages to be sure our interpretation is correct. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” (II Peter 1:20-21).

A man who persists in holding false doctrine has refused to find out what God says. He “is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself,” according to Titus 3:11. There is no room for ‘agreeing to disagree.’ Romans 16:17-18 begs, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Continued association can only result in confusion for weaker Christians.

While I was in Bible college, the issue of Calvinism showed up. The administration forbid discussing the issue, because supporting pastors were divided over the issue. My roommate dropped out of college, and later turned away from the Lord as a result of confusion over the issue. I failed to help him because I didn’t want to get in trouble and let it go. It is not God’s will for such divisions to exist among us. I Corinthians 1:10 expresses God’s intent. “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” As I Corinthians 14:33 states, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

What Are You Mad About?

Titus 3:3-7

“Look at the way he’s parked! Somebody ought to slash his tires for parking like that.”

I was walking across a restaurant parking lot when I heard the above comments from a man about my age. Looking at the truck he was talking about, I realized it was parked with two wheels over the line of the parking space, but the vehicle beyond was also parked the same way. The driver probably had no choice. The parking lot was nearly empty, so it wouldn’t have mattered if the truck took up three or four spaces.

We constantly hear about instances of road rage, but that was probably as unfounded an attitude as I have heard. Only a person who has never made such a mistake has the right to get angry when someone else makes a mistake. I’ve made enough mistakes that I rarely have the right to get angry at someone else for their’s. To get angry about some one else making a mistake I’ve made is total hypocrisy. Romans 2:1-3 warns about such hypocrisy.

“Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?”

It is essential that if we are going to train others to serve God, we be willing forgive the sins of others. Recognizing our own sin and understanding that Christ forgave us will make it much easier to forgive others. We need to be able to forgive ourselves, and to teach others to forgive. Christ forgave us for our sins, even though he had not committed any himself. Hebrews 4:15 is clear about this. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Relating properly to other people, even errant government officials, and bad employers, is far easier if we realize our own sin. It was not our goodness that saved us, or even that caused Christ to do so.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

Our sin made us God’s enemies, and deserved damnation. In mercy, God chose not to force the penalty on us. Instead he was willing to forgive us. By grace, he went beyond just forgiving us, and offered his love, and eternal life, even though it cost Christ’s life to do so. He paid our penalty, to the full extent. Romans 3:25 states, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”

Colossians 1:21-22 tells us he did this so we could come to him freely, with no enmity or guilt to separate us. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:”

If a sinless God could forgive us and love us despite our sin, we ought have the same kind of love for those he loves. I John 4:10-11 describes the attitude we ought to have. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

Recognizing what God has done for us ought to produce an attitude of forgiveness in us. I John 4:20 asks, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” He doesn’t understand or appreciate what God has done for him.