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February 11, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: How Can God Blame Me?

Romans 9:19-29

Where does human responsibility for sin arise in Paul’s Gospel?  Paul knows that question is going to come to mind in his readers, so he raises it himself! He starts this section with it: ‘Why does he (God) still find fault (with sinners)!?’ If you have been following Paul’s argument, this is the natural and reasonable question. If you wanted a well-reasoned answer, Paul gives you one, but perhaps not the reason you were hoping for….

February 18, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: What Should We Think?

Romans 9:30-33

We have just witnessed a face-to-face with God’s Glory in Romans 9 ‒ something not everyone is ready for! Now we are reflecting on that experience: What are we to think? What should we say? Paul’s answer moves in this direction: Do not look at your neighbor, your friend and her circumstances, or your expectations.  Do not even dwell on your confusion! Look to the Rock and delight in him, and you will never be ashamed!

February 25, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: The End of the Law and the Hope of Life

Romans 10:1-4

Everyone (well many!) is zealous for their religion, philosophy, or perspective on how to live a good life. That includes atheists, Baptists, Buddhists, and even agnostics (who are zealous for their conviction that no one can know!).  But there is a person who makes sense out of the Law which seems to have brought only suffering, pretense, and despair: Jesus. He is the “end” of the Law, the one from whom it flows and the one on whom it rests.

March 4, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: Gospel Equality

Romans 10:5-13

While many know the challenge of God’s sovereign work of salvation in Romans 9 (to our sense of personal sovereignty in these things), not everyone notices that the same author (and Author!) follows that with our responsibility in Romans 10! Here is a Gospel which we can neither ‘command’ nor ‘control.’ Here also is a Gospel which we cannot grab for ourselves. Yet, here is a Gospel to which we must respond.

March 11, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: Free Choice and Unshakable Predestination

Romans 10:14-17

In Romans 9 we learned of God’s sovereignty in salvation. In Romans 10:9-10 we learned that we must respond ‒ a human response plays a key role.  Now, we even discover that a human invitation (missions, discipleship, or proselytizing) is not only important, but essential!

March 18, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: What Does it mean to Hear?

Romans 10:18-21

“You aren’t listening to me!”  What does that mean when a friend says this to you? Most people mean not that you did not ‘hear,’ but that you did not ‘do’ what they said. They think that if you really heard, you would agree and act! God says the same. In Isaiah (chapter 6): ‘Hearing they do not hear, seeing they do not see!’ And Moses says the same thing in a more literal way: ‘Did they not hear?  Of course they heard!’  What does he mean?  And what does that mean for all peoples in regard to God and his Gospel?

March 25, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: The People within the People ‒ God’s Grace

Romans 11:1-6

Do you feel like the only one left? Elijah did.  So, too, did Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormons) for that matter! Such a self-focused perspective can be dangerous. But in one way there is a bit of truth to this ‒ God always preserves a remnant, a people within a people. He is never going to be without a people to do his work with him on the frontlines with Jesus! He does this by grace and to display his grace and glory for our joy.

April 1, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: First Day of a New Creation

Matthew 28:1-10

Today we consider the connection between creation (Genesis 1) and resurrection (Matthew 28), both of which happen on the ‘First Day’ of the week. Resurrection, and a connection to Creation, increases our hope and expectation for God’s ultimately renewed creation, our future with Christ.

April 8, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: What is the Fullness of Israel (and why should I care?)

Romans 11:7-16

If Romans 9 was hard to hear, Romans 11 is hard to follow. Perhaps this is one of those difficult texts of Paul that Peter complained about (2 Peter 3:16)! If it is challenging, it is not just you! But there are things in this passage which are clear. What is clear is this: God’s purposes, when revealed, will result in joy for God’s people.

April 15, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: A Warning to (nominal) Believers

Romans 11:17-24

How do we understand the strange mixture of confidence Paul offered in Romans 8 and his warnings, here? Does this text cause us to doubt our salvation, or hold on to Jesus as we are being held on to by him?

April 22, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: Does God Save ‘all’ or ‘everyone’?

Romans 11:25-27

Here is another very difficult text. It is possible to say, ‘Fine, God will do what he pleases!’ and then ignore what is written. But we can do that only if we forget that God is revealing himself here. He intends to bring us into his plans, his character, and the joy of knowing what our Father is doing. Moving from what we know clearly in this text and into that which is more challenging, we will put the pieces together and discover God and our place with him.

April 29, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: What You See is NOT what you Get

Romans 11:28-32

God is in eternity; we are in time. Those are very different environments with different rules. Both are real. Yet, even from our narrow and limited ‘time’ perspective, God can help us understand his in eternity. If we get that, we can understand something of this glorious mystery.

May 6, 2018

Romans: Finding the Frontlines

Title: Theology Leads to Outbursts of Worship!

Romans 11:33-36

You all know that Romans 9-11 is ‘contested territory’: Pelagians (We all have moral freedom to obey God); Arminians (By God’s grace, we all have free choice to be saved), Augustinans (God controls all causes, but not all willing), Calvinists (There is no free will and we come to God by his will); Hyper-Calvinists (God saves all directly and does not even use human mans like evangelism or missions). Where are you in this debate? Paul’s clear intent here is to reveal to us what has been hidden (verse 11:25)! But we all (I include myself here) can be dense. But here is one interpretive grid that may help us all: If we understand Paul correctly, and see God clearly in this Word, then our response should be an eruption of worship: ‘Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!’