Posts Tagged ‘Belief’


The Danger of an Unbelieving HeartIn 1996, the book Farewell to God,  the author, Charles Templeton, stated:

‘I oppose the Christian Church because, for all the good it sometimes does, it presumes to speak in the name of God and to propound and advocate beliefs that are outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their various manifestations, deleterious to individuals and to society.’3

Who is Charles Templeton? He was one of a group of young men who were on fire for God in the 1940’s. He was acclaimed as a gifted young evangelist, and was more “famous” than his friend Billy Graham. In 1946, he was listed among those best used of God by the National Association of Evangelicals.4

Charles Templeton How important is beliefHe pastored rapidly growing Avenue Road Church in Toronto, which he had started with only his family and a few friends. He became vice-president of the newly formed Youth For Christ International organization in 1945. He then nominated his good friend, Billy Graham, to be field evangelist for the new ministry. Templeton, Graham, and a few others regularly spoke to thousands, winning many to Christ both in America and in Europe.

Newspapers and magazines carried reports of his meetings informing readers he was winning 150 converts a night. In Evansville, Indiana, the total attendance over the two week campaign was 91,000 out of a population of 128,000. Church attendance went up 17%.

All was not well with Charles Templeton. He was beginning to question the essentials of the Christian faith, because he could no longer believe God’s Word beginning with Genesis.

In a conversation with Billy Graham, Templeton stated:

‘But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.’5

In his autobiography, Farewell to God, Charles Templeton lists his ‘reasons for rejecting the Christian faith’. Most of these relate to the origins issue and thus the accuracy of the book of beginnings—Genesis.

How important is Belief?

So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

Belief is important for RestA whole generation of Jews died in the wilderness because they refused to believe God.

Two Things are Evident in Hebrews 4:

1. There is a (Secret) Rest of God that people can find on Earth.
2. Most people live their entire lives without finding God’s rest.
Why do I say most people will not?
  • Because God tells us most people will not…

1 Corinthians 10:5-6 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

In the Exodus we find the real life story of God using Moses to bring the Jewish Nation out of Egypt and into the Land which God had promised Abraham over 400 years earlier. God worked miracle after miracle on behalf of His people. The Plagues, the death of the first born, the Passover meal, the spreading of blood, the parting of the Red Sea, the crossing on DRY ground, the death of the mightiest Army on Earth by drowning in the Red Sea. Then we have the miraculous manna, quails, fire, cloud of smoke, and thunderous voice from the mountain.

You could not have made a more tremendous movie to demonstrate the REALITY of the LIVING GOD! If you would have been there you would have told those Jews that wanted to give up and go back to Egypt that they were crazy! Didn’t they see that God is real and all-powerful?

1 Corinthians 10:1-12 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

 My Daddy used to say that hind sight is 50/50. Truth is, that of at least one million people over the age of 20 desired evil rather than believe God! Only two (and maybe their families) believed God! That’s like saying that out of the roughly 7 Billion people on Earth, only 14,000 are real followers of Christ!

These Jews who experience so much, instead of reaching the Rest which God had promised, as symbolized by the Promised Land, fell in the wilderness, having been overcome by their desire for evil.

How Do You Reveal an Evil Heart?

How do you reveal an evil heartNow how did the Jews illustrate their evil hearts? Through what they did? Through heinous crimes? NO!

Evil hearts are revealed by what you believe about God and what He promises!

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12

No! They revealed their evil hearts by not believing God! No way, you say! Surely it took something much worse, like murder or assault or robbery! No, they did not believe God was with them! They did not believe God would do what He said He would do.

Numbers 13:30-31  But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”  Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”

Numbers 14:3-4

 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

These Jews failed to believe the power of the Word of God, even though they had seen mightier miracles than anyone ever had! God promised to be with them as they went to conquer the land, but they focused on the size of the inhabitants rather than the size of their God! Only Caleb realized the Power of God, and his life was marked by a “different spirit!” Caleb represents the believer who sets his mind on the Spirit of God rather than the world!

Life with Jesus Christ is different than life without Him

1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Life with Christ is differentHebrews 4 uses another word for victory and overcome, the word REST!

God paints a picture of Rest in Exodus and Joshua. God paints a picture of Rest in Ephesians.

  • Rest doesn’t mean you lie back and do nothing. Rest means you stand and do everything in full reliance and full confidence of the Life of Jesus Christ in you.
  • Rest means when the boat is rocking and the winds are blowing your heart is calmly trusting in Christ, even while He is sleeping in the back of the boat.
  • Rest means that when you are facing giants, and you are swinging your sling, you know God is directing the stone.
  • Rest means that when a battle is raging, that you simply must rely on strength from God.
  • Rest means that whatever the pain, whatever the circumstance, whatever the pressure, that God will see you through it, and that it will benefit your Eternity.
  • Power to overcome the Giants of sin.
  • Courage and Confidence in the face of trials and hardships.

Are you Resting in the Reality of a life in Jesus Christ?

  • The FOCUS of your belief is to actuate the REST we have in Jesus Christ.
  • The FOCUS of the Jews in the Wilderness was to get to the Promised Land, a place of REST

Let’s see what lessons God wants us to learn:

1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Are you sensible people? Then discern what God wants you to learn:

I want to talk to you about REST and How you obtain it!

Read Hebrews 4

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands,1let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 2Let ustherefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, 3let ushold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 164 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:1-16

1. God’s Rest is Promised:

  • vs 1  “while the promise still stands!”

Enter into Gods Rest and promisesIt is promised, but it is not guaranteed. “fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Imagine what your Christian Life would be like if you would simply believed God’s Word…

Leonard Ravenhill:  I don’t want to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and God say to me, “I left you a book of blank checks signed in the blood of Jesus and you didn’t use half of them!”

Too often, we start and end our Christian walk with only this promise: And this is the promise that he made to us— eternal life.” 1 John 2:25

WHAT PROMISES ARE YOU NOT RESTING UPON?

If you can believe Him about that promise, what about these others? Does your daily walk reveal that you are trusting God in these areas of your life?

  • My-Joy-Your-JoyWhat about His promise of Peace.
  • What about His promise of Joy.
  • What about His promise to care for you.
  • What about His promise to clothe and feed you.
  • What about His promise to Love you.
  • What about His promise to cast our fear.
  • What about His promise to be free from the power of sin?
  • What about His promise of victory, about being more than conquerors?

If we were resting in His promises, we would be holy, for He says:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

2.  God’s Rest is His Plan for Man

Gods Rest is the Plan for ManGod has a plan for his people to join him in the wonderful restfulness of heaven where all weariness and burdens will be lifted. The writer focuses on five points in history to show how God’s plan is for mankind to find rest in Him.

  • Creation (Genesis 2:2) and says in verse 4: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
    • If God rested, what is the lesson for man? His people can rest and enjoy fellowship with him. He will call it a “Sabbath rest” because on the seventh day God rested.
  • Jews in the Wilderness: The promised land is a picture of God’s ultimate rest, and their unbelieving rebellion excludes them from it.
  • Joshua, who took the people into the promised land.

„  Is that the final, ultimate rest God in mind for his people? Verse 8 answers no: “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.”  In other words, even though Joshua gave some relief to the people of God in the promised land, that was not the final rest God has planned for them. How do we know that? God spoke of another day — another rest centuries later.

  • David writing in Psalm 95. Verse 7: “He again appoints a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'” In other words, long after the people enjoyed the rest of the promised land, David says that God is still holding out to his people an offer of salvation rest: Don’t harden your hearts, and you will enjoy God’s rest (referred to at the end of the Psalm, 95:11 = Heb. 3:11 = 4:3)
  • The fifth time period is NOW — Verse 9: “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” In other words, Today, the rest is still open.

And that is the foundation of God’s message to you today: There is a rest open to you today. God offers rest. The door is not shut. The time is not past.

3. God’s Rest is Present  Reality

Gods rest is present realityFor we who have believed enter that rest[1],

“not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers” Our enjoying the Rest offered by Christ is proof of our Christianity. It characterizes our Christian LIFE.

I WILL GIVE YOU REST

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30

Jesus offers TWO Rests…One is Conditional…

Christ offers us TWO rests. One is unconditional, and is offered to all who by weariness simply come to Him, admitting their weakness and need. The second rest is conditional. The rest for your soul comes only as you yoke your life with His, and then pay close attention and learn from Him! 

Hudson Taylor had a distinct moment when he entered into that second rest. He writes about it in his autobiography.

Bear not a single care thyself,
One is too much for thee;
The work is Mine, and Mine alone;
Thy work—to rest in Me.[2]

From His Spiritual Secrets Autobiography:

hudson taylorTo let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification, is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; . . . resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin”—this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me. I feel as though the dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a boundless sea; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy.

How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith . . . but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity.

We do not know just how the miracle was wrought; but, “As I read, I saw it all,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “I looked to Jesus, and when I saw—oh, how joy flowed!”

He was a joyous man now [Mr. Judd recorded], a bright happy Christian. He had been a toiling, burdened one before, with latterly not much rest of soul. It was resting in Jesus now, and letting Him do the work…[3]

Do YOU Have a New Heart?

Black_Heart_by_pushOK_12Ezek.18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

4. God’s Rest is our Prospect for Eternity!

  • anápausis vs katápausis

Gods rest is prospect for eternityChrist promised anápausis (inner rest) in this age, not katápausis ([2663], structural rest), the Sabbath rest of the age to come, which “remaineth…to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9–11). Anápausis is rest and peace of soul in the midst of hard labors, while katápausis is a periodic cessation from labor.[4]

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Revelation 14:13

VS

(Remember Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous)

 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:11200px-Lifestyles_of_the_Rich_&_Famous

How Do We Enter This Rest?

Salvation is much more than a ticket to heaven. It is much more than asking Jesus into your heart. Actually Jesus wants permission to take over your life. He wants to be Lord!

lettuce


Remember Popeye? Remember what gave him his super strength? 
Well to enter God’s Rest, you need to eat plenty of LET-US!

God’s Rest is built upon a bed of LETTUCE!

A. LET US FEAR

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest a

ny of you should seem to have failed to reach it

.

This fear is  not the terror felt by a slave. This is deep reverence and respect. This is what Paul tells us in Philippians.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Plenty of Lettuce to enter Gods Rest

Why should we approach our salvation with fear & trembling?…because the thing we have to watch out most for is “unbelief or faithlessness.”  If 99.9% of people who saw the greatest evidence of God EVER can fall away through unbelief, how easy is it for us to fall away?

  • “there is only one thing to fear: faithlessness. Fear unbelief in the promises of God. Because as long as you are trusting in the promises of God you can be utterly fearless in the face of anything, even death, even God (see 4:16).

 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

  • Since so many have fallen, we have cause to fear (Heb 3:17-19 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

B.  LET US STRIVE

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,

  • STRIVE: to be diligent, earnest, or eager[5]..
  • Do our utmost to focus on the rest. There is no room for mental laziness. Think with all you have on Gods rest.[6]

so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

  • Fall means that “everything is naked and open before God: opened — literally, “thrown on the back so as to have the neck laid bare,” as a victim with neck exposed for sacrifice. The Greek perfect tense implies that this is our continuous state in relation to God. “Show, O man, shame and fear towards thy God, for no veil, no twisting, bending, coloring, or disguise, can cover unbelief”[7]

Be in the Word of God!

  • bible-is-word-of-godIt is Living – (not dead) Alive!
    • It lives because it endures forever, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Ps.119:89)
    • It lives because it has life in itself, “God breathed.”
  • Powerful – (not weak) Energetic, active, productive, effective.
    • Activity which produces results. Often used for Divine activity which produces effective results! – It does what it promises!!!
    • Is.55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
  • Sharper – (not dull) God’s Word can cut through anything!
    • The Sword of God is a sin slayer! – It has stains of blood all over it…even up to the hilt!
    • It is 2-edged thus it cuts us 2 ways – 1st deeply that we might die; then it cuts us again that we might live!
  • Piercing – (not sheathed)
    • (i.e.) the extreme power of penetration of the Word of God, to the very core of man’s being!
    • A man named Thorpe was a member of the “Hell-fire Club”. (a group of men in the 1700’s who tried to detract the work of George Whitefield) – One day Thorpe jumped upon a table & started mimicking Whitefield, delivering his sermon with brilliant accuracy, perfectly imitating his tone & facial expressions, when he himself was so pierced that he sat down & was converted on the spot!{he went on to be a prominent Christian leader in the city of Bristol}
  • Discerner – (not ignorant) God’s Word sifts through the hearts thoughts & attitudes w/unerring discrimination!
    • Do you ever feel I’m talking right to you & a situation that you are going through? I hope you take it personal. I hope you get cut from God’s word while I’m teaching…else I am not wielding it properly!
  • (13) naked & open – (not hidden nor veiled) there is nothing to hide in or behind.
  • Open – different suggestions to this words meaning.
    • Refers to the wrestler’s art of seizing one by the throat rendering him limp & powerless.
    • The meaning is clear, all creatures are in the grip of God, totally vulnerable, helpless, & laid bare before his eyes, of Him to whom we must give account!
    • Prov.15:3 “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
      • God sees everything…This can be discomforting…IF you have something to hide!

C.  LET US HOLD FAST

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Hebrews 4:14

  • hold fast — the opposite of “let slip” (Heb 2:1); and “fall away” (Heb 6:6). As the genitive follows, the literally, sense is, “Let us take hold of our profession,” that is, of the faith and hope which are subjects of our profession and confession[8]
  • Take Hold of Christ, even in your weakness.

Gary Eagle Take-OffFor we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

D. LET US DRAW NEAR

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Conclusion

Are you a Crazy Loon or a Majestic Eagle? Who are you believing in and relying upon for life?

Ever Heard the expression “crazy as a loon,”

Loon or Eaglewithout any wind blowing it was almost impossible for them to take off and fly. I took his word for it, but it didn’t seem to make sense to me until one evening some time later when my brother and I were out fishing. Not a breeze was stirring, and the surface of the small lake was like glass. The quietness of the moment was suddenly broken by the loud flapping of wings. Evidently we had scared “Mr. Loon,” and he decided to get out of there. Yet, despite his heroic effort, he just skimmed along the surface of the water unable to gain altitude. Reaching the other side of the lake, he still wasn’t high enough to clear the trees, and, executing a fancy turn, he came back toward us still flap-ping his wings with all his might. We held our breath as he reached the opposite shore, barely missed the treetops, and disappeared from view. He had made it — but what a struggle! Re-calling that experience, the thought came to me: what a contrast there is between that struggling loon and the majestic eagle which ascends high in the heavens with wings outstretched, gliding effortlessly to new and thrilling heights. The flapping loon and the soaring eagle portray two kinds of Christians. There are some dear souls who seem to be always “flapping” without making much headway, while others can truthfully and joyfully sing with the hymn writer, “New heights I’m gaining every day.” The latter are those who have learned to wait upon the Lord, have renewed their strength, and hence “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).


[1] Ἐισερχόμεθα categorical; not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 4:3”.

[2] Hudson Taylors Spiritual Secrets

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “spoudázō”

[6] Kent Hughes; pg.113

[7] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary – Heb 4:1 Heb 4:1-16. THE PROMISE OF GOD’S REST IS FULLY REALIZED THROUGH CHRIST

[8] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “HEBREWS”.

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Jesus rebukes His disciples for their unbelief

Mark 16:14-18 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The disciples were reclining. They were at ease in their unbelief. They were more concerned about their bellies than they were their hard hearts. Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. They had refused to believe the report that Jesus was risen and alive!

The disciples were allowing a fleshly thing to cloud a spiritual reality. Their focus on what was in the past hardened their heart to what was true in the now! This is true of Christians today. We feed our hearts on what God has not done or failed to do. Whenever we dwell on what has not happened, we foster the atmosphere for the spirit of offense and bitterness to arise and then thrive. When we dwell on what has not happened, we legitimize unbelief. We even excuse unbelief as normal. So we promote a sense of justification for not believing God.

Jesus rebuked that attitude in His disciples. He rebukes that attitude now! That attitude and thinking has to die! Christians are at ease in their unbelief. They are reclining at the table of fleshly attitudes and thinking. While we feed our bellies, the world is crying out for spiritual truth that will change their lives. While we are content in our unbelief our neighbors are crying out for something worth believing in.

Too often the Church focuses on keeping people from “sin” instead of taking people into their destiny with the power of the risen Christ. Churches that provide excuses for falling short of and not believing the power of Christ are merely promoters of “religion,” for God’s Word says religion is “form without power!” (2 Tim 3:5)

The area of our greatest unbelief is in our prayers. So much of the content of our praying is for things we already possess in Christ, but fail to believe. So we labor to ask God for things we already have. We expose our unbelief through our boring prayers. We fail to ask God for things we do not possess because we fail to believe what God has given us. No wonder prayer is laborious and cursory to most Christians. No wonder there is a prevailing attitude that their prayers never reach the ceiling! Our prayers are often exercises in unbelief!

Churches are to be houses of prayer. The God purpose of prayer is to produce JOY in the experience of the believer.

John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Prayer is not to twist God’s arm, or to make us seem more spiritual. Prayer is to encourage our belief in the reality of Jesus. Jesus wants prayer to take us into fullness of JOY! JOY is the currency of Heaven! God reserves JOY as the reward for the suffering. Christ endured the cross for the JOY that was set before Him. The reality of Christ will deposit the currency of heaven in our lives. JOY is the currency of Heaven! JOY is the result of prayer! Jesus says to all faithful servants who live with His power in their lives, “Well done…enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

God wants us to feast on belief in the power of the Name of Jesus. Prayer is designed to be a breakthrough into His heavenly JOY! Prayer is the expenditure of belief in return for the heavenly currency. If we pray only for that which we already possess, we will never experience the breakthrough of JOY. We will never discover the riches of God’s heavenly currency!

Never allow our prayers to contradict what God has already promised. Our unbelief closes heaven’s resources to us. Closed heavens are between our ears. Failure to know JOY is between our ears! We limit our God because our unbelief does not want to take hold of His power and JOY, even when He is standing in front of us with outstretched arms!

This is why Paul prayed so fervently for us:

Ephesians 1:18-19 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…

Paul saw Jesus, saw His power, and saw that power in His life. Paul experienced JOY even in prison, even in the stockades, even holding flotsam in the middle of the ocean. Paul’s eyes were opened and his heart was on fire for the realities of Jesus Christ! He could see the greatness of the power within Him, the same power that raised Jesus from the grave.  Paul never reclined in unbelief after that vision.

Our Vision should FIRE our Heart!

Christians have no excuse for not seeing the same vision. The vision is there for all to see. If we fail to believe, the hardness of our heart is exposed.

When Jesus was baptized, Matthew writes, “immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (Matthew 3:16). The picture is of the heavens being divided, rolled back, suddenly exposing the power of the heavenlies, and allowing the Holy Spirit to descend upon Jesus. Stephen saw the heavens rolled back and gazed upon the Glory of God and His Son. The truth is that the heavens have been opened to all Christians! The Holy Spirit has been given to all Christians. The Glory of God is for all Christians. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, a gift from our Savior!

Our Father is jealous for us to know the power of the Holy Spirit within us. He earnestly desires us to belief and experience His JOY!

James 4:5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

We live under an open heaven. The heavens are rolled back revealing the Power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives in every believer, but his POWER is not upon every believer. Luke 4:1 says that Jesus left the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit. But he did not have the POWER of the Holy Spirit until He believed the Word of God in His confrontation with Satan in the wilderness.

Are You Aware of the Power within You?

The Holy Spirit is in us eternally, but His POWER is not opened to us unless we believe. When we allow the wilderness of this world to influence our believing, we fail to see the power of the Spirit. We fail to influence the wilderness around us. We fail to alter the environment around us. Men who believed in the POWER of Christ influenced the environment into which they were placed. Stephen had a profound effect upon those angry men. Paul had an astounding effect upon prisoners, towns people, and even hardened Roman Soldiers.

Christians must learn how to “host” the presence of God such that He is always before us, influencing the environment of every place we step into. What we are conscious of, we are positioned to manifest. What we are aware of, we are able to release. If we are not conscious and aware of the POWER of God within us, we will never be able to influence those around us. The Gospel is not a ministry of words. The Gospel is the ministry of Power because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The Gospel is the ministry of releasing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the whole earth. We will never release that which we are unaware of.

A woman who had struggled for years with an issue of blood made a “demand” upon Christ. In desperation she reached out among the throng to touch the “hem of His garment.” She made a demand for her life. In spite of all the people pressing around Him, Christ was so aware of the Spirit’s presence that He instantly knew when a demand was made to which the Spirit responded. If we are not intensely aware of the Holy Spirit within our lives, we will have nothing to offer those around us who are desperately seeking power for their lives. They are overwhelmed, they are needy, and we have no life-giving power to offer them.

A demand was made upon Peter. Peter confessed he had no silver or gold, but Peter was intensely aware of what he did possess. Peter had life in Christ, and He was willing to share that POWER with the beggar at the gate. Peter said “what I do have I will give you.”

Write a HUGE Check with Heavenly Currency!

Peter knew a heavenly currency that the world knows nothing about. Peter wrote a HUGE check because he knew what he possessed (Acts 3:6). Most Christians can only write tiny checks because our unbelief has obscured what we possess.

We live with such ignorance of what we possess. We possess the very “Kingdom of God.” The one who freed us from our sins, at the same time made us a Kingdom, Priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:6). Jesus said “the words that I speak to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Jesus, being the very logos (word), spoke the Spirit and Life where ever He journeyed. When Christ spoke, His words became the Spirit and brought LIFE to those who believed. When we believe in the Words of Christ, and speak them into the world, we impart the Spirit to our environment, and we impart LIFE to those who believe.

We are Kingdom builders through the POWER that is in us. This Kingdom is not in food or drink, but is righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

When we are aware of the power that lies within us, and we exercise that power in faith, we are building the Kingdom by bringing people to the LIFE in Christ. We are dispensing the heavenly currency of JOY to those around us.

When you are handing out money, people stop and demand some. When you are handing out JOY, joy that this world is so hungry for, people will stop and demand it. The communities around the disciples took note of what they were handing out. They took note of where they went. They even brought the sick and lame into the streets to catch the shadow of Peter and be healed (Acts 5:15). Note: Your Shadow will always release what overshadows you! Peter was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit!

An unbelieving, defeated group of Christians will never see life brought to the dead in sin. They will never see miracles of God. Unbelief and defeat produces inward focused Christians, prone to depression and discouragement. When we turn inward we become a dead sea. An inward focused Christian is a dead Christian. An inward Christian is self-absorbed and self-centered. We need to be pre-occupied with who Christ is! With what Christ can do! We need to constantly release Him into every circumstance we encounter. We release His POWER by faith!

Don’t allow disappointments to obscure Revelation

So much of “Christianity” is based upon disappointment rather than revelation. We fail to see the Glory of God or the Power of His Son. Stephen saw the revelation in the midst of a downpour of stones. Paul saw the revelation in the midst of a hateful heart. John saw the revelation in the midst of loneliness and exile. The Revelation of Christ changes our environment. It changes our heart! Rather than being disappointed in what God fails to do for us, we need to focus on all that God has done for us!

Jesus said that if you see Him, you have seen the Father. So Jesus is the revelation of the nature and power of God. Jesus said that “all power” had been given to him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). His power is the basis of us going into the world. If we do not know His power by revelation, then we will be powerless if we go into the world. We will be overcome by the world!

Christ is in us as a River
Let Him Flow!

Powerlessness is inexcusable and unacceptable. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and he wants out. He is not in us as a lake, or a ‘dead sea’, but rather as a river. Rivers flow from. The nature and power of God becomes ours as a believer. We have to believe in our own conversion! We have to believe in the POWER that was given to Jesus and was given to us!

As Paul prayed, the Lord is releasing a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we can actually rise to who He says we are! We cannot afford to rest in unbelief, nor can we afford to think thought that God never thinks about us. We must learn to meditate on the things the Holy Spirit can say “AMEN!” to.

Paul wrote that in order to serve God acceptably, our minds (that thing between our ears) must be renewed so that our lives are transformed. Our minds must come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We must learn divine perspective in order to live the divine life.

This renewing of our mind can only come from a divine encounter with the POWER of God. We must see the revelation of Christ as the POWER in our life. Any creed or teaching that does not take us to the person of Jesus in a divine encounter will only make us more “religious.” It will only equip us to argue, not bring life into our environment.

When our beliefs line up with the POWER of Christ in us, we can take the Gospel into our communities without limits, without baggage that weighs it down and renders it powerless. We must have the experience of the Gospel that changes our lives, changes our thinking and makes us intensely aware of the divine POWER within us. Only then can we dispense the currency of heaven to those joyless souls around us.

(Inspired by Bill Johnson of Bethel Church)


What you BELIEVE truly matters:

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though they were a very large mammal their throat was very small. The little girl stated Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The teacher reiterated a whale could not swallow a human; it was impossible. The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.” The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?” The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

An atheist buys an ancient lamp at an auction, takes it home, and begins to polish it. Suddenly, a genie appears, and says, “I’ll grant you three wishes, Master.” The atheist says, “I wish I could believe in you.” The genie snaps his fingers, and suddenly the atheist believes in him. The atheist says, “Wow. I wish all atheists would believe this.” The genie snaps his fingers again, and suddenly atheists all over the world begin to believe in genies. “What about your third wish?” asks the genie? “Well,” says the atheist, “I wish for a billion dollars.” The genie snaps his fingers for a third time, but nothing happens. “What’s wrong?” asks the atheist. The genie shrugs and says, “Just because you believe in me, doesn’t necessarily mean that I really exist.”

Today we will look at one of the greatest verses in the Bible. These Verses hold the Secret of Having a Christian walk that just staggers around or keeps Climbing Upward!

Romans 4:19-22 (KJV) 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 Sara’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. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Beneath the Text:

  • weak (asthenéō) = “without strength, powerless, sick”. Also “to doubt, hesitate, vacillate, as meaning weak or double-minded”. CWSD
  • considered not = “paid no attention to the physical obstacles”
  • staggered not (diakrinō ou) = To be in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitate, waver CWSD

“to judge between two,” thus, “to vacillate between two opinions or decisions.” Abraham did not vacillate between belief and unbelief with respect to his difficulty and the ability of God to meet it. He did not waver. Wuest’s Word Studies

  • promise (epangelia) = “Primarily a legal term denoting a summons or promise to do or give something. Used only of the promises of God” (except one verse) CWSD.
  • unbelief (apistia) = uncertainty, distrust, unbelief. The lack of acknowledgment of Christ; want of confidence in Christ’s power. In general, a lack of trust in the God of promise! CWSD
  • strong (endynamoō) = grow stronger and stronger; “inwardly strengthened,” suggesting strength in soul and purpose. Vines “to make strong, endue with strength,” Wuest’s

Hebrews 11:34 (ESV) quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

  • faith (pistis) = firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, CWSD

That is, his faith was strengthened in God to meet his impossible difficulty with a miracle. The thought is not here that Abraham’s faith was strengthened so that his physical powers again became equal to bringing children into the world. Isaac was the result of a biological miracle performed by God in answer to Abraham’s faith. The glory would therefore be to God. Wuest

  • being fully persuaded (plērophoreō) = “To fulfill, thoroughly accomplish, equivalent to persuade fully, give full assurance. CWSD
  • able (dynatos) = from dunamis – “strong, powerful”. CWSD

The Point of our Text

Abraham firmly believed in what God promised, because he firmly believed in God’s power. Abraham’s belief in God allowed him to overlook the visible problems to see the power of Him who was invisible. His ability to see and trust the invisible kept him from staggering over the obstacles of doubt that surrounded him. By believing, Abraham climbed to the very heights and gave glory to the Power of God! God declared Abraham righteous because He believed Him!

Faith Is Not The Means By Which We Get God To Work In Our Lives; Faith Is The Means By Which We See His Will For Our Lives!

Unbelief and the Christian Walk

A.  Unbelief is not:

  • Unbelief is not the absence of faith.
  • Unbelief is not a negative state of mind.
  • Unbelief is not an intellectual attitude, or state, caused by a want of sufficient evidence.
  • Unbelief is not a state of blank ignorance of God and of his truth.
  • Unbelief is not the state of ignorance of the existence and attributes of God.
  • Unbelief is not disbelief or belief in the opposite of what the Bible says is true.
  • Unbelief is not an intellectual state at all.

The Bible represents unbelief as sin; therefore it is not a state of mind, it is a condition of our heart.

B.  Unbelief is:

1.  Unbelief is SIN.

Hebrews 3:12 (ESV) Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.

2.  Unbelief is a CHOICE.

Mark 16:14 (ESV) Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

3.  Unbelief is a lack of CONFIDENCE.

Withholding of confidence in one who is worthy of our confidence. Unbelief of the heart darkens one to committing your heart and soul to the will of God. Belief is giving God our confidence, in voluntarily yielding ourselves up to him, confiding in him, trusting in him, casting ourselves upon him, voluntarily receiving his truth, and committing ourselves to him.

UNBELIEF IS AT THE HEART OF OUR LACK OF COMMITMENT TO GOD!

It is hard to love a God with all your heart, soul and strength if you don’t believe Him!

Let’s take a little time to understand unbelief by looking at the New Testament words for doubt and unbelief.

C.   Understanding Doubt & Unbelief

1.  Doubt: Diakrino & Distazo.

To be in strife with oneself, i.e., to doubt, hesitate, waver.  Being uncertain of what to believe or do.

  • Rom. 4:20 He staggered (diakrino) not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith giving glory to God.
  • James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering (diakrino). For he that wavereth (diakrino) is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

This doubt comes through giving up one’s conviction of faith based on what one sees or feels.

Mat. 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt (distazo)?

Peter was fine walking on water as long as he focused on Jesus. But as soon as he looked at his surroundings, focusing on the physical, on the wind, and the waves, he was a goner.

2.  Doubt Leads to Unbelief

Doubt, or focusing on circumstances or your own resources, allows unbelief to grow. When unbelief starts to grow, it destroys confidence, makes one uncertain, and builds distrust. Unbelief then leads to further unbelief and finally a hardening of one’s heart!

a.  Apistia

Lacking confidence in the performer, to put no confidence in, to disbelieve; uncertainty, distrust, unbelief. In general, a lack of trust in the God of promise. Apistia is a form of unbelief that often shows a lack of a confidence in God to do what He has promised to doApistia is a choice!

  • Mat. 13:58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief (apistia).
  • Heb. 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (apistia).
  • Rom. 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief (apistia); but was strong in faith giving glory to God.

Apistia can develop into:

b.  apeithéō

Obstinate, rebellious, disobedient; refusal to believe, apathetic. A person who does not allow them self to be persuaded or believe, in fact, he stubbornly disbelieves and is even disobedient.

  • Eph. 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (apeithéō).
  • Hebrews 3:7-8 (KJV) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
  • Heb. 4:6 We see they entered not in because of unbelief (apeithéō). (Notice their unbelief in Heb 3 became hardened disobedient unbelief in Heb 4)
  • Heb. 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (apeithéō).

1. Unbelief is the Basis of all Sin

All Sins Come from Unbelief in God’s Word and Promises. Anxiety, misplaced shame, indifference, regret, covetousness, envy, lust, bitterness, impatience, despondency, pride—these are all sprouts from the root of unbelief in the promises of God.

Consider the message of 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

What did Paul mean? Is the love of money behind every sin? Is money on your mind when you sin? I believe that the evils of the world come from a certain kind of heart that loves money.  Now what does it mean to love money? It’s not being like Scrooge McDuck and going into your vault and playing with your money! What is money? Money is simply a symbol that stands for human resources. Money stands for what you can get from man, from man’s resources.

God resources can’t be bought with money! “Ho everyone who thirsts, come to the waters. He who has NO MONEY come buy and eat!” (Isaiah 55:1).

Money is the currency of human resources. So the heart that loves money is a proud, independent heart that places its hopes, pursues its pleasures, and puts its trust in what human resources can offer. So the love of money is the same as faith in money—belief (trust, confidence, assurance) that money will meet your needs and make you happy. Therefore the love of money, or belief in money, is the flip side of UNBELIEF in the promises of God.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:24—you cannot serve God and money. You can’t trust or believe in God and money.

Belief in one is unbelief in the other. A heart that loves money—banks on money for happiness, believes in money—is at the same time not banking on the promises of God for happiness. So when Paul says that the love of money is the root of all evils, he implies that unbelief in the promises of God is the taproot of every sinful attitude in our heart.

2. Unbelief is Calling God a Liar.

1 John 5:10 (ESV) Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar…

Unbelief, doubt, withholding of confidence, is a practical denial that God is worthy of confidence. You are denying His trustworthiness. What an infinitely awful sin it must be to make God a liar!! If anyone here was to stand up and say God is a liar, I’m sure some of us might grab them and forcibly remove them. We would call that person a blasphemer.

Hebrews 6:17-18 (ESV) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

It is impossible for God to lie. Yet when you doubt God’s word, when you do not believe what God says, you are calling Him a liar. We are to agree to the truth of his promises, and the certainty of their accomplishment.

RC Sproul, Jr. wrote a book titled – Believing God: 12 Scriptural Promises Christians Struggle to Accept

These verses, while promises of God, are not really believed by many Christians.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
  • 1 John 3:1 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
  • 1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  • James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
  • Psalms 127:3-5 (ESV) Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
  • Psalms 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
  • Malachi 3:10 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
  • Mark 11:22-24 (ESV) And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
  • Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
  • John 16:33 (ESV) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • 1 John 3:2 (ESV) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

III. The results of unbelief.

A.   Unbelief produces a heartless religion.

There is only ritual, no satisfying of the soul. If it is not up to God, then it is up to you, and that produces frustration and sorrow. There is no enthusiasm of the heart. Are you filled with the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit? Do you wake up with a spontaneous love for God? Then your heart is filled with unbelief.

B.   Unbelief produces a legalistic religion

Unbelief will cause you to do a great many things without regard to God. Unbelief clouds your eyes and heart to seeing God’s will and His glory. Unbelief leads to an obedience that is selfish, and based on getting what you want.

C.   Unbelief produces an religion void of salvation

Belief in God is absolutely essential to knowing God, and knowing His salvation. If someone doesn’t believe in God, what interest is heaven to him? It’s only a selfish interest, lacking any desire to glorify God, or of having fellowship with Him.

D.  Unbelief produces a disobedient heart.

Disobedience of heart to God is always a result of unbelief. Unbelief will lead you to disavow God’s sovereignty, God’s government, and will lead you to do what is in your heart, what you believe is best.

This is the root of sin in man–withholding confidence in God.

E.   Unbelief produces RESTLESSNESS in your Soul.

Now, when you do have no confidence in the promises of God–do not believe that “all things shall work together for good to them that love God”– your are carrying your burdens upon your own back, and you will grow weary.

Matthew 11:28-30 (KJV) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Your unbelief keeps you from resting in Jesus, it keeps you from His yoke, and it keeps you from His faithful promises.

F.   Unbelief results in an absence of peace in your life.

Where there is real faith, although there may be much to disturb and distress the mind, there is deep peace and joy in God, in the midst of it all; but where persons have not peace, real joy, and great satisfaction in God, in his truth, and in his promises, you may know that there is unbelief there.

Just as Paul told the sailors in Acts 27, that despite the furious storm, if they remained in the ship, no lives would be lost. Even in the most furious of storms, Paul had complete peace in the power of God

G.  Unbelief results in bondage to sin

“There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Now, when you are in bondage to any sin, you are under the influence of the world, and are condemned by the law.

I John 5:4 declares “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith.”

If you are living in bondage to sin because of unbelief, you are living in a state of condemnation; your own conscience condemns you because of your unbelief.

H.  Unbelief produces Servants and not Sons

By servant, I mean one who serves his master from fear, not love. People who don’t believe see God as someone who must be worshipped, who must be served, or they run the chance of getting on His bad side. There is no love, no anticipation, and no patient waiting upon a loving Father. There is no child-like belief in a loving heavenly Father! They don’t rely on the Father every day; they never ask Him for anything unless they get desperate. They pray, but only out of duty.

Belief will lead you to come before the throne with anticipation, with expectation, for you are a son needing the Father, depending upon the father!

I. Unbelief produces a Worldly Person.

You are given over to a worldly way of thinking and acting. After all it is up to you, because you don’t believe God. You mind earthly things; you don’t layup treasures for heaven. The Word of God is not your constant companion. The Holy Spirit is not your paraclete. No one neglects the Bible if you believe it!

IV. The Power of Believing Faith

Believing Faith Glorifies God!

A.  We glorify God by believing his promises.

Faith . . . honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard since it considers him truthful and trustworthy. There is no other honor equal to the estimate of truthfulness and righteousness with which we honor him whom we trust . . .On the other hand, there is no way in which we can show greater contempt for a man than to regard him as false and wicked and to be suspicious of him, as we do when we do not trust him. (Martin Luther, Selections, p. 59)

Trusting God’s Word is the most fundamental way that you can glorify God. You can say “Glory to God” all you want, but if you do not believe His Word, stop wasting your breath! When you believe a promise of God, you honor God’s ability to do what he promised and his willingness to do what he promised and his wisdom to know how to do it.

  • If our goal is to glorify God in all that we do, then we must make it our aim in all that we do to believe the promises of God.

Because it was when Abraham believed the promise of God that God was glorified. John 3:33 (ESV) Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.

  • Believing God is like setting your personal seal on God!
  • Sarah received power to conceive:

Hebrews 11:11 (ESV) By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.

This is of the nature of faith: “The judging him faithful that promised and agreeing to the truth of his promises. You See and Believe in the Power of God!

1.  It Is Future Oriented

Belief that honors God means banking our hope for happiness on the promises of God. By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac… He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead…Heb 11:17-19

People who say, “I believe that Christ died for my sins, and that he rose again from the dead,” but then don’t bank their hope on his promises day by day—those people don’t have faith that honors the God who justifies sinners.

  • Paul says, “That is why his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.” So how did Abraham get justified in God’s sight? Why did God look at this imperfect man and count him as righteous in his sight?
  • Answer: because he believed the promises of God. It was future oriented faith that justified.

Now read on in the application to us. Verses 23–24,

The words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord. Notice! It does not say, “It will be reckoned to us who believe the past historical fact that God raised Jesus from the dead.” As utterly crucial as that is! It says we will be reckoned righteous if we believe in God! Like Abraham believed in God!

You don’t get justified by believing that Jesus died for sinners and rose again. You get justified by resting your hope on the promises that God secured and guaranteed for you through the death and resurrection of his Son.

2.  It Produces Fruit

Abraham became the Father of a multitude. Of many nations! He is the Father of every born again Christian!

Romans 4:16 -That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…

Believing Faith in the promises of God produces what Paul calls the “work of faith.” Two times, once in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and once in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 Paul refers to the “work of faith.” What he means is that there is a dynamic to this kind of faith that always changes the heart (Acts 15:9 (ESV) and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.) and produces the works of love.

The clearest statement of this is Galatians 5:6: “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” God was able to give Abraham a Son because He Believed.

What fruit has your belief produced?

Faith is a power. It never leaves the life unchanged. What you place your hope on always governs your life. If you bank your hope on money, if your bank your hope on prestige, if you bank your hope on leisure and comfort, if you bank your hope on power or success, it governs the choices you make and the attitudes you develop.

If you bank your hope on the promises of God every day, it will change the way you think, pray, and act. Belief in the promises of God is the taproot of all righteousness and love. Belief in the promises of God is not a dead and fruitless thing. What you bank on for happiness controls your life.

B.  We Must Battle Unbelief Every Day

Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold on eternal life to which you were called.” Fight against sin by fighting against unbelief in the promises of God. Fight for righteousness and love in your life by fighting to maintain faith in the promises of God. Unbelief requires a conscious decision.

Take warning from those who fell away in unbelief:

  • Some no longer have faith at all (II Thessalonians 3:2).
  • Some have shipwrecked their faith (I Timothy 1:19).
  • Some have left the faith for the doctrines of devils (I Timothy 4:1).
  • Some have denied the faith by not providing for their family (I Timothy 5:8).
  • Some have cast off their first faith (I Timothy 5:12).
  • Some have turned aside after Satan (I Timothy 5:15).
  • Some have erred from the faith for the love of money (I Timothy 6:10, 21).
  • Some are reprobate [disqualified] concerning the faith (II Timothy 3:8).

The saddest example of unbelief comes from the generation of Israelites who failed to reach the Promised Land.

“But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses 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”(Hebrews 3:17-19).

Those Israelites were initially saved: they were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, they were spiritually baptized in the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:2), and they were led by a pillar of cloud and fire through the wilderness. But they refused to believe when God promised that He would give them the promised land. They looked at their own resources and refused to see God’s.

So we read in Jude 1:5: But then, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not” (Jude 1:5);

As a result, that generation did not reach their final destination of salvation in the Promised Land.

  • “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (II Peter 3:17).
  • “Therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it …Labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:1,11).

How is your Christian walk? Are you stumbling, or are you climbing? Examine your hearts. Is there doubt and unbelief in your life?

  • Does your life have Stability?
  • Are you growing in Christian maturity?
  • Do you seem to stagger in your Christian walk?
  • Is your Christian walk stagnating?
  • Is God producing visible fruit through your life?
  • Do you struggle with doubts and fears?

Are you ready to climb the Mountain, trusting God’s Word? Abraham did with his boy Isaac. Abraham staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

Come to Jesus, Believe in Him, and He will give you rest!


“The epistle to the Romans is the true masterpiece of the New Testament and the very purest gospel, which is well worth and deserving that a Christian man should not only learn it by heart, word for word, but also that he should daily deal with it as the daily bread of men’s souls. It can never be too much or too well read or studied, and the more it is handled the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes” (Martin Luther).

Paul wrote this letter about 56 A. D. when he was in the city of Corinth, before his trip to Jerusalem. Written to a church he hoped to visit soon. Paul had not yet visited the church in Rome. He wanted to go there and he prayed that God would make this visit possible (Rom. 1:10-12; 15:23-24). This makes the letter to the Romans unique. Most of Paul’s other letters were written to churches where he had personally ministered. But here was a church (the church at Rome) where Paul had not been and where Paul had not taught.

So the Book of Romans was preparation for when Paul would arrive in Rome.

Here in the book of Romans Paul gives a doctrinal preview of the content of his teaching ministry. What Paul unfolds in these 16 chapters is nothing less than a doctrinal masterpiece.

  • What is being a Christian all about?
  • What are the central truths of Christianity?
  • What is the gospel really?
  • What formed the foundation of Apostle Paul’s preaching wherever he went?

Influence of Romans

To find the answer to all these questions we turn to the greatest doctrinal book in the New Testament — the epistle of Paul to the Romans.

A group of scholars once made a list of the fifteen greatest books, books that were great based upon their beneficial influence upon humanity. Included in this list were John Wesley’sJournal, Luther’s 95 Theses, Augustine’s City of God and John Bunyan‘s Pilgrim’s Progress.

  • As his Journal reveals, Wesley was an unsaved preacher until he read the book of Romans and understood God’s way of salvation.
  • Luther, a Catholic monk, was greatly influenced by Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith,” which opened his eyes to the truth of justification by faith.
  • Augustine’s City of God was founded on his study of the Book of Romans.
  • Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was written after reading the Book of Romans in prison.  It became the best selling book of all time, next to the Bible.

Among the greatest books of the world, four which come near the top of the list were all directly influenced by the Book of Romans.

Has the Book of Romans changed your life? When was the last time you read through Romans?

Although Paul knows many of the people to whom he is writing, he did not found the church, and he has never been to Rome. So he has some work to do in the first 17 verses to introduce himself and his agenda. The “gospel” ties together Romans 1:1-17, and, indeed, the entire letter. In the introduction, Paul features both the content and the power of the gospel that unites Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome.

The object of the apostle in writing to this church was to explain to them the great doctrines of the gospel. His epistle was a “word in season.” Himself deeply impressed with a sense of the value of the doctrines of salvation, he opens up in a clear and connected form the whole system of the gospel in its relation both to Jew and Gentile.

Preparation for the Journey

Whenever I take a trip, I like to prepare myself so I can make the most of my time in the place I’m going. There are three things which you should study about your destination if you are to get the most of your time there:

  1. The Personality (of the people)
  2. The Places (what should we see)
  3. The Pillars (make it a desirable destination)

I. THE PERSONALITY OF ROMANS

The following terms must be understood if we are to understand the personality of Romans. Paul’s approach to these terms are nothing short of foundational to understanding the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am certain that most of us do not understand these terms the way Paul wants us to.

A. The LAW –  78x in 51 verses

  • For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13 (ESV)

The Law is not to be understood in terms of  “Thou shall and thou shall not’s“. We commonly think that laws are obeyed and satisfied by works, whether your heart is in it or not. But God’s Law makes its demands not on your works but on the depths of your heart and does not let the heart rest content in works.

God calls all of us liars in Ps 116:11, because none of us keep the law from the depths of our heart. We all have an aversion to good and a craving for that which is forbidden. If our heart does not freely desire righteousness, our heart has not set itself on God’s Law. Regardless of outward good works, the appearance of an honorable life, our heart is sinful and deserving of the wrath of Righteous Holy God.

Romans  Two is pointed at the Jews, who are proud of their outward holiness. But Paul says that they are all sinners, and that only does of the law are justified in the sight of God. He reveals that no matter their outward obedience, there is none that truly obey. On the contrary, he says to them, “You teach that one should not commit adultery, and you commit adultery. You judge another in a certain matter and condemn yourselves in that same matter, because you do the very same thing that you judged in another.”

  • You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. Romans 2:23 (ESV)

It is as if he were saying, “Outwardly you live quite properly in the works of the law and judge those who do not live the same way; you know how to teach everybody. You see the speck in another’s eye but do not notice the beam in your own.”

You keep the Law (selfish motivations) outwardly out of fear of punishment or love of reward. You do everything as though you are chained-without free desire and love of the Law. If the Law did not exist you would be relieved, you would rejoice. In fact, Paul says (in Romans 5) that the Law causes sin to increase. This is because a person becomes more and more and enemy of the Law the more it demands of him what he can’t possibly do.

In Romans Seven, Paul says the Law is “spiritual”. What he means is that it were physical, it could be satisfied by your works. Since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy the law unless everything you do springs from the depths of your heart. But no one can have such a heart except the Spirit of God, who gives us a New Heart which has a heartfelt longing for the law and does everything not through fear or coercion, but from a new free and willing heart!

Only by a new heart energized by the Holy Spirit can one fulfill the Spiritual Law. Otherwise we remain an enemy of the Law by nature.

You must get used to the idea that it is one thing to do the works of the law and quite another to fulfill it. The works of the law are everything that a person does or can do of his own free will and by his own powers to obey the law. But because in doing such works the heart abhors the law and yet is forced to obey it, the works are a total loss and are completely useless.

That is what St. Paul means in chapter 3 when he says, “No human being is justified before God through the works of the law.”

Fulfilling the Law of God

To fulfill the Law means to actively obey and do its work lovingly and freely, as if there was no Law. The Law is the expression of the character of God. The only way to fulfill the Law is through possessing the love and character of God in your heart and being!

Paul says that only the Holy Spirit can fill us with this Divine Love: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”. Romans 5:5 (ESV)  But the Spirit is given only in, with, and through faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul says in his introduction to Romans. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 (ESV)

Faith alone makes the Love and Righteousness of God reality in our hearts. Faith alone fulfills the righteousness of the Law. Good works that proceed from faith alone are the only works that satisfy the demands of the Law.

The Law as Paul sees it: The Law is Spiritual – the revealed Character of Holy God.

B. SINS and SIN  – 48x – 41 verses

In Romans Paul deals with our sins, and then he deals with our sin. Sins refers to the external works of the body and soul. Sins of omission and commission. Sin refers to those forces within us that move us to do the sins. Sin is from the depth of our wicked heart with all its powers and inclinations.

The root and source of our sins is the sin nature that comes with being “in (the unbelief) of Adam”. The Holy Spirit and the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root source of sins, and that is our sin nature, which is founded in unbelief in the depth of the heart.

Just as faith alone makes us just and brings the Spirit and the desire to do good external works, so it is only unbelief which sins and exalts the flesh and brings desire to do evil external works.

That’s what happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise (cf. Genesis 3). That is why unbelief is called sin by Christ, as he says in John, chapter 16, “The Spirit will judge the world because of sin, because it does not believe in me.”

  • Sin is the nature we possess that causes us to not believe.
  • Sins are what result as a result of our unbelieving sin nature.

In Romans, Paul will show us how God can deal with our sins, and also our sin!

C. Grace and Gifts – 21x – 18 verses

  • and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:24 (ESV)

Grace is the active force in our lives which makes us completely just before God. God’s grace is not divided into bits and pieces, as are the gifts, but grace takes us up completely into God’s favor for the sake of Christ, our intercessor and mediator, so that the gifts may begin their work in us.

By this, we understand chapter 7, where Paul portrays himself as still a sinner, while in chapter 8 he says that, because of the incomplete gifts and because of the Spirit, there is nothing damnable in those who are in Christ. Because our flesh has not been killed, we are still sinners, but because we believe in Christ and have the beginnings of the Spirit, God so shows us his favor and mercy, that he neither notices nor judges such sins.

God’s grace allows Him to deal with us according to our position in Christ until our flesh is completely redeemed.

  • Grace is the Loving Power of God displayed in our daily lives
  • Gifts are the pieces of God’s grace that we often reject or neglect, and can lead us to miss or refuse God’s Grace.

D. FAITH – 40x – 35 verses

  • Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2 (ESV)

Faith is not that human illusion and dream that some people think it is. When they hear and talk a lot about faith and yet see that no moral improvement and no good works result from it, they fall into error and say, “Faith is not enough. You must do works if you want to be virtuous and get to heaven.” The result is that, when they hear the Gospel, they stumble and make for themselves with their own powers a concept in their hearts which says, “I believe.” This concept they hold to be true faith. But since it is a human fabrication and thought and not an experience of the heart, it accomplishes nothing, and there follows no improvement.

Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God (cf. John 1). It kills the old Adam, makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses, and all our powers, and brings the Holy Spirit with it. Faith places us IN CHRIST. Faith keeps us abiding in Christ. We live the exchanged life by THE FAITH of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

“What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith! It is impossible that faith ever stop doing good. Faith doesn’t ask whether good works are to be done, but, before it is asked, it has done them. It is always active. Whoever doesn’t do such works is without faith; he gropes and searches about him for faith and good works but doesn’t know what faith or good works are. Even so, he chatters on with a great many words about faith and good works.” Martin Luther

  • Faith is the living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace.

This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all that He does. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. It is as impossible to separate works from faith.

Through faith a person becomes sinless and eager for God’s commands. Thus he gives God the honor due him and pays him what he owes him.

Faith comes only through the word of God, the Gospel, that preaches Christ: how he is both Son of God and man, how he died and rose for our sake. Paul says all this in chapters 3, 4 and 10.

That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law; faith in God’s promises sees the Power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Faith opens our will and want to to do those ‘good works’ which God designed us for. Then good works proceed from faith itself. That is what Paul means in chapter 3 when, after he has thrown out the works of the law, he sounds as though the wants to abolish the law by faith. No, he says, we uphold the law through faith, i.e. we fulfill it through faith.

For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Romans 3:28-31 (ESV)

  • Faith makes the Vitality and Power of God real in our daily living.

E. FLESH (CARNAL) 23x – 19 verses and SPIRITUAL (SPIRIT)

  • For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 (ESV)

You must not understand flesh here as denoting only immorality or spirit as denoting only the inner heart. In Romans, Paul not only calls every human being ‘flesh’ but also everthing done by human beings in their own strength or in their own devices “fleshly”. Those living in the flesh can be sinners as well as saints. Anything done apart from the Spirit of God is walking in the flesh and not the Spirit. In Romans 8, Paul says that, through the flesh, the law is weakened. He says this, not of the immoral, but of all sins, most of all of unbelief, which is the most spiritual of sins. Unbelief destroys the SPIRITUAL life of any believer.

  • But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6 (KJV)

I have come to the conclusion that a true Jew is not the man who is merely a Jew outwardly, and a real circumcision is not just a matter of the body. The true Jew is one who belongs to God in heart, a man whose circumcision is not just an outward physical affair but is a God-made sign upon the heart and soul, and results in a life lived not for the approval of man, but for the approval of God. Romans 2:28 (Phillips NT)

A person is spiritual who has been born of the Holy Spirit, and lives in and by the Spirit. Outward righteousness is a result of the inward spirit of God producing the life and character of God.

  • So then, a person is “flesh” who, inwardly and outwardly, lives only to do those things which are of use to the flesh and to temporal existence.
  • A person is “spirit” who, inwardly and outwardly, lives only to do those things which are of use to the spirit and to the life to come.

F. Unbelief and Belief

The very foundation of sin coming upon man was unbelief. Adam and Eve believed the deception rather than the Word of God. If they had only believed what God had said, they would have lived in eternal bliss.

Jesus defined sin as unbelief. God defined sin as going your own way. It is unbelief that leads us to go our own way. Unbelief in Romans reaches far beyond simple belief in Jesus as your Savior. Essential for being born again, yes,  but belief is essential for your very LIFE as a son of God. Your belief in the Word of God is foundational to your LIFE here and now and for all eternity.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:8-11 (ESV)

Paul uses Old Testament illustrations to convey the Truth of Romans. He points out Abraham, who did not stumble at the promises of God by unbelief. His belief is what made him righteous before God. His believing the promises of God is what gave him LIFE here on earth and in all eternity.

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. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Romans 4:20-22 (KJV)

In Romans, Paul lays out the truth of the gospel of Christ, and that truth doesn’t end at the cross, it goes through the cross to affect not only our sins, but our sin nature. We are made righteous by our belief in the promises of God. That belief does not stop at the cross. It does not stop at being born again. Belief in the Promises of God’s Word is to be a daily thing whereby we are made righteous every day. We are given LIFE every day. Not life in the flesh, but life in the Holy Spirit of God!

  • UNBELIEF-anything -thought, person, thing that keeps the Power of God from your life.
  • BELIEF – is reflected in the daily manifestation of fruit in your heart and life.

Summary of the Personality of Romans

Romans is the richest possible teaching about what a Christian should know: the meaning of law, Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, justice, Christ, God, good works, love, hope and the power of the cross. We learn how we are to act toward everyone, toward the saints and the sinners, toward the strong and the weak, friend and foe, and toward ourselves. Paul bases everything firmly on Scripture and proves his points with examples from his own experience and from the Prophets, so that nothing more could be desired. Therefore it seems that Paul, in writing this letter, wanted to compose a summary of the whole of Christian and evangelical teaching which would also be an introduction to the whole Old Testament. Whoever takes this letter to heart possesses the light and power of the Old Testament. Therefore each and every Christian should make this letter the habitual and constant object of his study.

II. THE PLACES OF ROMANS

1. The Gospel of Salvation

The introduction (1:1-17) delineates the theme of the book of Romans, which is the gospel of God. This is the content of the introduction. Our next tour will explore this Gospel which was so important to Paul.

  • Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1-6 (ESV)
  • Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)

2. Condemnation—the Need of Salvation

Following the introduction, we have the section on condemnation (1:18—3:20) that unveils to us the need of God’s salvation. We all are hopeless and helpless cases and are under God’s condemnation. We need God’s salvation.

3. Justification—The Accomplishment of Salvation

The third section, justification (3:21—5:11), reveals the accomplishment of God’s salvation. Related to this matter of justification we have three other items—propitiation, redemption, and reconciliation. We will cover these terms when we come to chapter 3. At this point I will only say a brief word. God’s justification depends upon the redemption of Christ. Without the redemption of Christ, God has no way to justify sinners. Therefore, justification depends upon redemption, and redemption has one major aspect—propitiation. Propitiation is the major structure of redemption. Propitiation is the major part of the redemption of Christ because, as sinners, we owed God a great deal. We were held by God to pay this debt, and this caused a tremendous problem. That problem has been resolved by Christ as our propitiatory sacrifice. Since this propitiation has solved our problems with God, we have been redeemed. Based upon the redemption of Christ, God can easily and lawfully justify us. Thus, justification depends upon redemption, and the major part of redemption is propitiation. What, then, is reconciliation? Reconciliation is the issue of justification. God’s justification issues in reconciliation. All of this has been accomplished. Hallelujah! Although you may not be clear about all of these words at present, you can say to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t understand all these terms, but I praise You that everything has been accomplished.”

Justification brings us to God. In fact, it not only brings us to God, but also into God. Therefore, we may have the full enjoyment of God. The King James Version says, “We joy in God” (Rom. 5:11). We not only joy in God; we enjoy God. God is our enjoyment. This is justification.

4. Sanctification—the Life-process in Salvation

Following this, we have sanctification (5:12—8:13). How great it is to be in God and to enjoy God!  After being justified, we need to be sanctified.

What does it mean to be sanctified? We use the illustration of tea. If we put tea into a glass of plain water, the water will be “teaified.” At best, we are plain water, although we are actually not plain, but dirty. Even if we are plain water, we lack the tea flavor, the tea essence, and the tea color. We need the tea to come into our very being. Christ Himself is the heavenly tea. Christ is in us. Hallelujah!

God is progressively revealed throughout the book of Romans:

  • In chapter 1 He is God in CREATION,
  • In chapter 3 God in REDEMPTION,
  • In chapter 4 God in JUSTIFICATION,
  • In chapter 5 God in RECONCILIATION,
  • In chapter 6 God in IDENTIFICATION.
  • In chapter 8 God in US.

Christ is in us (Rom. 8:10)! He is no longer merely in creation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, and identification, but He is now within us, in our spirit. Christ is in us doing a transforming and sanctifying work, just as the tea, when put into the water, works the element of tea into it. Eventually, the water will be wholly “teaified.” It will have the appearance, the flavor, and the taste of real tea. If I serve you some of this beverage, I will be serving you tea, not plain water.

  • Have you been JUSTIFIED?

You should all reply, “Hallelujah! We have been justified because Christ has accomplished redemption. God has reconciled us and we are now enjoying Him.”

  • Have you been SANCTIFIED?

If some of you married men claim to be sanctified, what would your wives say? “He may be justified, but it is doubtful he is sanctified.” Or you might say”maybe a little bit… or maybe he is improved, but I do not think he is sanctified yet.” I am not talking about being improved, but being sanctified—that is to have the very character of Christ worked into our very being, just as the essence, flavor, and color of the tea are worked into the water. This is sanctification. And every born again Christian should learn that he indeed is sanctified.

5. Glorification—the Purpose of Salvation

The next section in the book of Romans is GLORIFICATION (Rom. 8:14-39), unveiling the purpose of God’s salvation. Following sanctification, there is the need of glorification. Our body needs to be glorified. Although a brother may be quite saintly, his body needs to be glorified because of its physical defects and limitations. When the Lord Jesus comes, we will be glorified. Presently, I must wear thick, peculiar eyeglasses, but when the Lord comes I will be glorified. We shall not only be justified and sanctified; we shall be glorified, that is, our body shall be redeemed. Glorification is the full redemption of our body.

This glorification reveals the purpose of God’s salvation. The purpose of God’s salvation is to produce many brothers to Christ. Originally, Christ was the only begotten Son of God. Now the only begotten Son has become the firstborn Son. We ourselves will be processed into the many brothers of Christ and the many sons of God. He is the firstborn Son, and we, the many sons, are His many brothers. This is the purpose of God’s salvation.

6. Selection—the Economy of Salvation

After glorification, we come to selection which reveals the economy of salvation (Rom. 9:1—11:36). God has a purpose and an economy. His economy is for the fulfillment of His purpose. God is very wise and He arranges everything for the fulfillment of His purpose. He knows what He is doing. He knows who are His chosen people and He knows when His chosen people should be called. In relation to God, selection is for the accomplishment of His purpose; in relation to us, selection is our destiny.

7. Transformation—the Life-practice in Salvation

After this, we have the section on transformation, unfolding the life-practice in salvation (Rom. 12:1—15:13). In this section we see the life-practice of all that has been produced by the life-process. Whatever is produced in the section on sanctification is practiced in the section on transformation. Eventually, sanctification becomes transformation. In one sense, we are in sanctification; in another sense, we are also in transformation. We are in the process of life and in the practice of life that we may have the Body life with a proper private life. Every aspect of the proper Christian life and church life is included in this section on transformation. While we are being sanctified, we are also being transformed from one form into another form and from one shape into another shape. Praise the Lord! We are all under the life-process of sanctification for the life-practice of transformation.

8. Conclusion—the Ultimate Consummation of Salvation

The last section of the book of Romans is the conclusion, indicating the ultimate consummation of salvation (Rom. 15:14—16:27). The ultimate consummation of God’s salvation is the churches—not just the Body, but the local churches as the expressions of the Body. Hallelujah! The book of Romans begins with the Gospel of God and concludes with the local churches. In Romans, we do not have the local church in doctrine but the local churches in practice.

III. THE PILLARS OF ROMANS

The major structures of the book of Romans are three— salvation, life, and building.

A. Salvation

The first major structure of Romans is salvation, revealed in 1:1—5:11 and 9:1—11:36. Salvation includes propitiation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, selection, and predestination. In eternity past God predestinated us. Then He called us, redeemed us, justified us, and reconciled us to Himself. Thus, we have full salvation.

We need to differentiate between redemption and salvation. Redemption is what Christ accomplished in the eyes of God. Salvation is what God has wrought upon us based upon the redemption of Christ. Redemption is objective, and salvation is subjective. When redemption becomes our experience, it becomes salvation.

B. Life

Salvation is for the life unfolded in 5:12—8:39. In this section the word life is used at least seven times and, according to chapter 8, this life is four-fold. This Eternal Life or Life with God, begins not when we die but when we are born again!

C. Building

In the last part of Romans, 12:1—16:27, we have the building, the Body with all of its expressions in the local churches. Salvation is for life, and life is for building. Thus, the three major structures of Romans are salvation, life, and building.

Finally:

Why is our Tour through Romans called Journey Through the Cross?

Paul is all about this New Life that is the result of the Power of the Gospel of Christ.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:13-15 (ESV)

Such is the Power of this New Life we have through the Gospel of Christ that Paul makes this BOLD declaration:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)

He boldly declares the power of the Cross of the Gospel in Romans 6. The Truth of Romans 6 is only experienced as we Journey Through the Cross:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:4-6 (ESV)

Our Journey through the Cross is a Journey into the New Life that is in Jesus Christ


Abram Had his doubtsAbram behaved as a True Elder Brother when he went after and rescued his nephew Lot. The Elder Brother is to be the responsible one, and protect the family. He spared no expense in rescuing his nephew. Yet after wards, he did a very ‘un-elderly brother’ thing when he refused the loot offered by the King of Sodom. This is what made Abram a Godly Elder Brother – his focus was on his relationship with the Father, not on “stuff”.

But he must have had his doubts. It is hard for Elder Brothers to not think ‘practically’. That is why God appeared to him in Genesis 15:1,

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

God never wastes words. He would not have told Abram not to fear if fear was not in his heart. Perhaps he was afraid his following this invisible Jehovah was a waste. After all, Jehovah had still not provided him with an heir. What kind of God is that? So he complained to Jehovah:

“O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”

Abram the Elder Brother was responsible, obedient and childless. His labors would all be in vain if he had no heir. So fear was in his heart. Do I keep following Jehovah, or return to the gods of my forefathers? After all, Abram began life as an idolater in a foreign land.

milky-wayGod could see the fear and hesitation in his heart, just as He sees the fear and hesitation in every Elder Brothers heart. So Jehovah took Abram outside and showed him the Milky Way. “Your descendants will be as many as the stars!” In that moment, Abram believed Jehovah, and it was counted unto him as righteousness.

A simple display and Word from Jehovah was all it took to dispel the fear in Abrams heart. When fear gripped his heart and he started to lean on his own understanding, he looked to the stars and believed the Word of God!

Abram Believed God

Elder Brothers, if you have doubts and fears about your labors and what good they are, open the Word of God and look for His promises to you. Ask Him for a special Word that will dispel the fear from your heart. Elder Brothers mask their insecurities with hard work, tasks and accomplishments. Yet inwardly we are beset by fear and doubt. Is this all worth while? Will anyone appreciate what I have done when I am gone? Will my children realize all I have sacrificed for them?

Look to the heavens, and hear the Word of Jehovah! His love for you is overwhelming. He is building His Kingdom on the backs of His faithful and hardworking Elder Brothers. We are the ones who must rescue our captured kinsmen.

Father: Open my heart to hearing your assuring voice, open my eyes to see your wondrous power!