Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday, October 31st

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Matthew 19, Mark 10
Today's scripture focus is Romans 6:5-7

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

John Piper says....
Paul is saying is that our death with Christ and our future resurrection with Christ are not identical with Christ's death and resurrection, but very much like them. Christ died as a sinless sacrifice for us; our death with him is not identical to that. And Christ rose as the death-destroying first fruits of a great harvest; our resurrection with him will not be identical to that. Rather our dying and rising are like his, but not identical....But the main point of verse 5 is that all of Paul's talk in this chapter about our dying and rising with Christ is owing to a union with Christ.
God creates this union by His grace and we accept and experience it by faith.  What does this union do for us?

1 Corinthians 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

§ In this union Christ becomes wisdom for you and this overcomes your blinding, deadening ignorance.

§ In this union Christ becomes righteousness for you and this overcomes your guilt and condemnation.

§ In this union Christ becomes sanctification for you and this overcomes your corruption and pollution.

§ In this union Christ becomes redemption for you and this overcomes in the end all the miseries and pain and futility that come from sin and guilt – like sickness and death

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Because of our union with Christ we became righteous and He became sin.  He was sinless and God put our sins to his account. We were sinful and God put Christ's righteousness to our account.

Why?  Because we are in Him.

Galatians 2:17 says we are justified in Christ, Romans 8:1 says there's no condemnation for those who are in Christ, Ephesians 2:10 says we're God's workmanship in Christ, created to do good works (sanctification), 2 Corinthians 5:17 says we're new creatures in Christ.

Our unity with Christ is truly amazing.

We are dead to sin.  We are risen to walk in newness of life. One day we will be united with Him in resurrection.  We need to believe that, and then walk in it - experience it as a reality in our lives.

In his following sermon, Piper adds....

Verse 6: "Our old self was crucified so that we would no longer be slaves us sin." How so? How does death with Christ free us from slavery to sin. The answer of verse 7: it goes first to the deepest root of slavery – not the lure of sin, but the blinding and hope-destroying guilt of sin, and says, "He who has died is justified from sin." The guilt is taken away before the lure is broken.

Which means this in summary: In overcoming the power of sin in our lives we are not first given the moral ability to break sin's allurement; we are first given the personal legal right to break the despair that I cannot be forgiven and declared righteous. We call this justification. To put it another way, justification is the foundation of sanctification which, in turn, is the certification that we are on our way to a resurrection with Christ in union with him.

MacArthur adds this thought....

when Jesus died, He died to pay the penalty of sin and when you died in Him, you died to pay the penalty of sin in Him. And so, when it says in verse 2 that we have died to sin and it says in verse 10 that He died to sin, we come together and both of us can die to sin in the sense of paying the penalty. He in reality pays the penalty, we spiritually in Him pay it. Great thought. There's only one way for you to deal with your sin, folks, you've got to die. And you either die in hell forever paying for them or you die in Jesus Christ. The choice is yours.
But, there's one other thing. He not only died to the penalty of sin, would you listen to this? And here's the thing I think most people misunderstand. He died to the power of sin. He broke the power of sin. It's not something in the future, He did it then. He broke the power of sin. You say, "Well, wait a minute. Was He under sin?" Sure He was. He bore in His own body our sins. In fact, in 2 Corinthians 5:21, this is a statement beyond all comprehension. It says, "He was made sin for us." Temporarily under its power like you can't believe. You think you were under the power of sin before you were saved? Imagine Jesus on the cross with all the weight of all the sin of all the people who ever lived in history. He was under the power of sin. And it killed Him. And by dying, He bore the weight of sin and by rising He broke the power of sin and He entered a new state no longer under the power of sin, no longer under the dominion of sin. And you and I came out of that grave with Him and we are no longer under its power either. No longer do we pay its penalty, no longer are we under its power.
So, a two‑fold death to sin. And I think that's exactly what Augustus Toplady had in mind when he wrote the familiar hymn "Rock of Ages." And one of the lines is "Be of sin the double cure, saved from wrath and makes me pure." You hear it? In the death of Christ as we put our faith in Him, we die and we are saved from wrath because we died of the penalty in Him and we are made pure because we died of the power in Him.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 6:8-10
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Matthew 20-21

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday, October 30th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Luke 17:11-18:14
Today's scripture focus is Romans 6:1-4

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

A very common, and very wrong, conclusion to Paul's teaching that justification only comes by grace through faith apart from any works of the law, is that it opens the door to rampant sinning.  After all, the more sin there is, the more forgiveness there is, and the more God's grace shines brighter.  Does Paul's teaching open the door to careless living and a disregard for holiness?

Absolutely not, no way, no how - may it never be!  His answer is "We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"  What does this mean?  First of all, it's a rhetorical question.  Meaning, the answer is so obvious that the question doesn't need an answer.  We can't!  If we've died to sin, we can't go on living in it.

I love John Piper's introduction to looking deeply at this passage....

J. I. Packer compares the old English Puritans who lived and suffered from 1550 to 1700 with the Redwoods of California. They were giants whose roots were incredibly deep in the Bible, and whose branches reached to the heavens, and whose trunks were so strong and durable they could endure forest fires that scar them but don't kill them. But then Packer looks out over the pragmatic American landscape of our quick fixes for life's problems and our impatience with depth and complexity and pain, and says, "Affluence seems for the past generation to have been making dwarfs and deadheads of us all."1

Here's the difference between the pragmatists and the Puritans: pragmatists do not have the patience to sink the roots of hospitality and brotherly kindness and authentic love in the deep rock of Romans 6-8. We want to jump straight from justification to the practical application of chapter 12. Just give us a list. Tell us what to do. Fix the problem at the immediate surface level, so it goes away. But the Puritans were different. They looked at the book of Romans and saw that life is built another way. Being a sage, being a Redwood, being unshakable in storm and useful in times of indescribable suffering – that does not come quickly or easily. Romans is not two chapters long. It is 16 chapters long. It does not skip from chapter 5 to 12. It leads us down deep into the roots of godliness, so that when we come up, we are not people with lists, but people with unshakable life and strength and holiness and wisdom and love.

Why not?  Paul answers starting in v3.  When Christ dies, we died to sin with Him. When Christ rose, we were made alive in Him.  And therefore, we are commanded to become in practice what we are in Christ - dead to sin and alive to God.

Just as we are justified because of unity with Christ, so do believers die with Christ because of our unity with Him.  Therefore, we cannot go on living in sin.

Yes, we will still sin.  We are not perfect.  Becoming a Christian doesn't make us able to live perfect lives.  That's not what Paul is saying.  He's saying that we can't live in sin, we can't continue in sin, we can't allow sin to reign over us.  when we have become united with Christ in his death, we cannot go on with an unchanged pattern of sin in our lives.... Being freed from the mastery or enslavement or dominion of sin is not the same as being sinlessly perfect....

If you are a Christian, God created a union between you and Christ, as verse 5 says. Because of this union, you died with Christ, when he died. Because you died, you are now free from the guilt and power of sin in your fullest and truest identity, that is, in your union with Christ. And because of this unshakable position and identity, you are already justified, and you are most certainly being sanctified, but you are not yet perfected. Therefore, confirm this great transaction by reckoning yourself to be what you really are in Christ.
That being said, I couldn't close without a few thoughts from John MacArthur as well....

Paul would not abandon grace to accommodate the legalists. And he would not abandon grace to restrict the libertine....

you don't need externally to control people who are redeemed because there is planted within them a control principle by virtue of the new nature, the new life which is under the control of the Holy Spirit of God so that the thing functions internally not externally....

Holiness is as much a gift of God to the believer as redemption is in the saving act. When a person is redeemed it is not only a divine transaction, it is a divine miracle of transformation. It is not only legal, it is real. It is not God just saying - Now you're saved. It is God transforming you. It is not only God saying something to be true, it is God making it true. It is not only God declaring you righteous, it is God recreating you in righteousness. You see, as I've been trying to point out earlier in the book of Romans, God doesn't say things that aren't so. And He's not about to call people righteous who aren't. And so, sanctification and justification are linked.. 

"Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" ....Shall we go on with that same relationship where sin had full control and we yielded fully to it, it was an unbroken habit? Are we going to continue that same abiding within the house of sin?.....In other words, to put it theologically, does justification not necessarily connect to sanctification? Can a person be saved and go on in the same life pattern? Can there be a divine transaction that has no impact on the life? Some in our Christian culture would say yes. Yes, if you've ever asked Jesus in your heart no matter what your life is like, you can be sure you're going to go to heaven. In other words, justification can exist apart from sanctification. One writer, current writer, says, "You can be saved and have absolutely no fruit. You can be saved and have no evidence, no practical righteousness. It isn't desirable, it isn't God's will, it isn't best but it is possible."

Let me put the question this way: does the gospel allow men to be unholy? Can you be really saved and unholy and continue to remain in, abide in, stay in, live in the same relationship to sin you had before? That's the question. Let's look at the answer in verse 2. "May me genoito," you don't see that in your Bible, it says "God forbid." But me genoitodoes not translate "God forbid." It is an idiom, the strongest reaction possible. It is outraged indignation. To put it in the words of my grandmother, "Perish the thought." You remember that one? To put it in the contemporary vernacular, "No way!" May it never be. It is denial with an abhorrence of such a thought. The very suggestion is thoroughly obnoxious to Paul. So that he doesn't spew out some great argument, he just says no, no, no. It is a blunt no means, absolutely not. A Christian continuing to remain in, abide in, live in sin is not only impermissible, it is impossible. The thought only creates disgust...
How shall we that have died to sin live any longer in it? He says it's impossible. You can't sustain the same relationship to sin you had before because you've died to it...Death and life are not compatible. I mean, you can't be dead and alive at the same time...So it is a fundamental logical contradiction for a Christian to be living in sin when he has died to it. You see? In a definite act in the past time, a once for all definite break with sin was made. That is a part of the believer's identity. And a believer cannot therefore live in sin. If a man lives in sin, if he abides in sin, if he continues in sin he is not a believer...
When you became a Christian you were immersed into Jesus Christ...we are baptized into Jesus Christ. We are placed in, immersed in deeply into Christ.
Now, I believe this is used metaphorically here. That is, it's not talking about H2o. I think he's speaking as he does in terms of baptism in 1 Corinthians 12 when he says we have all been baptized with the Holy Spirit. And he's not talking about water there, he's talking about an immersing ministry where the Spirit of God...the Christ is the baptizer and through the agency of the Spirit of God, He immerses in the Spirit and thereby in the church which carries in it the universal life of the Spirit. Now these are profound thoughts. But it's speaking metaphorically. We are fused into, immersed deeply into Jesus Christ. It speaks of an intimate, personal fellowship....
when you were saved, you were placed into Jesus Christ....We died with Christ. We rose with Christ. We ascend with Christ. We reign with Christ. And he says at the end of the third chapter of Revelation, "It is given to you to sit with Me in My throne."
So, listen...I mean, just from that alone, if we close the book of Romans and went home, we would know that it is impossible for a person to continue in the same relationship to sin that he had before that because he has been fused with Jesus Christ who is eternally holy....
We are identified not only in Christ but particularly in His death and resurrection....when you were saved, when you came to Jesus Christ and put your faith in Him, by some divine miracle you were placed into Jesus Christ and you were taken back 2,000 years and you died and you were buried and you were buried so that the old life could die and that you could rise to walk in what? Newness of life. A death took place and what comes out of that grave is something very different than what went into that grave. "If any man be in Christ he is a new creation."
So, the purpose for you dying to sin was so that you might live to God. Now, beloved, I think this is a very simple truth. Christians are different. And so, when you ask the question - well, let's just go on sinning. No, no, no, you can't do that. It is not that you don't have permission, it is that you can't do it because you're in a different sphere. You can't go on living in sin. You can't have the constant same habitual remaining in sin that characterized your former life. That's going to be different....This is a tremendous truth that when you come to Christ you are immersed in His death and you rise to walk in new life. You are totally different. We die in Christ in order to live in Christ. We share His death in order to partake of His life. We are justified to be sanctified. They are inseparable realities.....
We must be reconciled to God in order to be holy and we cannot be reconciled without becoming holy....
So, as Christ died and rose, so His people die to sin and rise to God. As Christ's resurrection life was the certain consequence of His death, so the believer's holy life is the certain consequence of His resurrection and death to sin. And now we walk in newness of life....
Being a Christian is not getting something new, it is becoming someone new. It means we have died to sin in our new nature. Sin no longer is the abiding power in our life. Marvelous...and all of this is more than something God says about us, it's something God did for us. ...
If you came to Christ, you've been saved unto holiness. You're not the same. You're different. And if you're not different, you better examine yourself to see whether you're in the faith. 

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 6:5-7
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Matthew 19, Mark 10

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday, October 29th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is John 11
Today's scripture focus is Romans 5:20-21

20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John Piper maintains that there are two things that need a remedy.....
One is our sinful nature that enslaves us to sin, and the other is our original guilt and condemnation that is rooted not first in our individual sinning but in our connection with Adam in his sin....The problem of our condemnation in Adam God remedies through justification in Christ. The problem of our corruption and depravity he remedies through sanctification by the Spirit. Or to put it another way: The problem of our legal guilt and condemnation before God is solved by his reckoning to us the righteousness Christ; and the problem of our moral defilement and habitual sinning is solved by his purifying us by the work of Spirit. The first remedy, justification, comes by imputed righteousness. The other, sanctification, comes by imparted righteousness. Justification is instantaneous; sanctification is progressive...

They are not identical, and they are not separable. Justification comes first by faith prior to any deeds done by us in righteousness. By this we are forgiven and put right with God legally. We are acquitted and counted righteous with Christ's righteousness. Then on the basis of this secure and reconciled standing with God, we are gradually transformed into the likeness of his Son by the Spirit. Justification and sanctification are inseparable because both are by faith. The faith that unites us to Christ for justification also breaks the power of sin in our lives. Woe to us if we try to get right with God by faith alone, and then try to become good people by some other means.
When we think about man's depravity and our legal condemnation in Adam, it does several things.  It makes us humble - morally and intellectually. We need something we cannot produce on our own, and our human minds cannot even fully comprehend this doctrine of original sin.  But the more we know about our fallen nature, the more grateful we become for our salvation.  As difficult as original sin is to comprehend, it does help us explain the world we live in and the universality of evil.  It also gives us insight on how government should be established - we are not good enough to govern ourselves, rather we are so bad that no one can be trusted with absolute power.  It should also produce in us compassion for others - we are all in the same boat of sin, all equally powerless to do anything about it on our own.  And, perhaps most importantly, the reality of original sin and the knowledge that salvation is through the grace of Christ alone, should motivate us in evangelism.

MacArthur reminds us of some important truths in these last two verses of Chapter 5...
A very interesting statement is made by F.F. Bruce. He says this, biblical scholar, "The law has no permanent significance in the history of redemption." Very interesting statement. "The law has no permanent significance in the history of redemption." There are only two things that have permanent significance in the history of redemption, only two. This is MacArthur talking to you. This is my own sense about this. One is the act of Adam, two is the act of Christ. For the act of Adam will be that which damns the lost forever. And the act of Christ is that which redeems the saved forever. They are the only two permanent elements in the history of redemption. The law is not one of them. The law was a complementary element. The law was a corollary. The law, if you will, was a temporary measure with a purpose that never was redemptive. The law does not damn people to hell and the law does not bring people to God. The law doesn't do either one of those things.

So what does the law do?

Sin obviously existed before the Mosaic law, because people died and death proves sin.  But God did not give us the Mosaic law to diminish sin.  In fact, according to v20, having the law actually incited sin.  It's like the forbidden fruit - as soon as something is forbidden, it becomes enticing and attractive to us.

The law also gave us an awareness of our own sin.

The law was not able to produce righteousness, it just made us aware of desperately we need it!  But, and this is quite interesting to me, once we received that righteousness in Christ, the law became a standard that we wanted to keep in order to outwardly manifest the righteousness we received.

To the sinner it manifested sin, to the righteous man it becomes the pleasure of his heart. Isn't that amazing? On the one hand, to the unregenerate it excites their sin, on the other hand it restrains their sin to the regenerate.

I love v20b.  When sin and evil increased, grace simply increased even more.  And just like the law incites sin for the lost, grace incites righteousness in the believer.  And grace overpowers sin.  Every. single. time.

And that's exactly what v21 reiterates.  Sin reigned in death.  Grace reigns in life. Grace met sin head on and defeated it. Grace becomes the controlling reality.

And how is this possible?  v21b.  through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Every one of us should bow before God in humiliating consciousness that we are vile sinners worthy of death. Every one of us should realize that apart from the work of Jesus Christ we would be doomed to eternity forever without God because God hates sin. But O my, where there was the reign of death, God came with His grace and overpowered that and death is overruled by life for all who believe in Jesus Christ.

What a tremendous promise, what a secure reality.  When we believe in what Jesus Christ has done for us, grace wins.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 6:1-4
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Luke 17:11-18:14

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday, October 28th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Luke 16:1-17:10
Today's scripture focus is Romans 5:18-19

18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

These verses once again stress that just as our condemnation is based on the fact that Adam sinned by disobeying God, so our righteousness is based on the fact that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life in full obedience to God.  Adam's sin is counted as our sin.  Christ's righteousness is counted as our righteousness, when we believe.

Adam's sin made us sinners, the result of which is the fact that we sin.
Christ imputing His righteousness to us makes us righteous, the result of which is the fact that true Christians will therefore bear righteous fruit.  Yes, we are still human and we will still mess up sometimes.  That will be a battle we will fight until we reach eternity.  We are all sinners, but when we have Christ's righteousness, we no longer have to sin, and in fact we desire to sin no longer and there will be a continual pattern of bearing fruit.

It may seem "unfair" that we are condemned by Adam's sin when we had nothing to do with Adam.
But it is equally "unfair" that we are justified by Christ's righteousness, as we had nothing to do with that either.  And in fact, more so, for though we were condemned by Adam's sin, we produced sin of our own, equally as deserving of condemnation.  And yet Christ justifies all who believe.  That is unfair.  That is mercy.  That is grace.  That is unmerited favour.  Thank you, Father!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 5:20-21
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: John 11

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday, October 27th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Luke 14-15
Today's scripture focus is Romans 5:15-17

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

The point here is that Christ's righteousness, justification and life doesn't just cancel out or equal out Adam's sin, condemnation and death - it is so much more, so vastly superior, so different!

In v15 , John Piper points out the parallel first...
Many are in Adam and many die because of one man's transgression. Many are in Christ and many experience grace because of the one man's grace. The minor point is simply this: judgment came because of one man; salvation comes because of one man. There was one way for all men to fall – in Adam. There is one way for all to be saved – in Christ. It's the singularity of Christ and his grace and righteousness that Paul wants us to see and savor. See the uniqueness and singularity and greatness of Christ in this text and worship him and love him and trust him.
And then the contrast.  Righteousness and transgression are opposites, but it's more than that.

If judgment followed Adam's transgression, it is "much more" certain that God's grace abounded and will abound, because judgment is not God's ultimate purpose in the universe. Rather – and this is the major point – the ultimate purpose of God in creating and governing the world the way he does is the display of abounding grace – not to the exclusion of the display of justice and judgment and wrath, but against the backdrop of judgment and wrath. The display of the glory of his grace is God's ultimate purpose in the world – and here the stress falls on the fact that all of this comes through "the one Man, Jesus Christ." The glory of God's grace is the glory of Christ applied to all who are in him. All of history – all of its sin and redemption – is about the glory of the grace of God in the one man Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of history. That is the main point of verse 15.
In v16 we see that the free gift is not just justification, rather it's the fact that Christ's righteousness is the grounds for justification.  Our justification legally stands on the basis of Christ's righteousness, the gift is the foundation on which our justification stands.

Piper also comments on the contrast once again....
One transgression (of Adam) leading to condemnation versus many transgressions (of all of us) leading to justification. What's the point? The point is again to display the greatness of grace far outstripping the display of judgment. How?... condemnation is a natural and fitting response to transgression. But justification is not a natural or fitting response to a transgression, let alone many transgressions. So there are at least two things that grace has to overcome for justification to exist: One is that transgression calls for condemnation; and the other is that many transgressions call for great condemnation. What makes God's grace shine in this verse is that it triumphs over both obstacles. How? By providing a substitute righteousness. Because Christ was righteous for us, God can now justify us in spite of many transgressions.... the great number of our past sins is no obstacle for God to justify us. Because there is a "free gift" that "results in justification" – the gift of Christ's righteousness.
v17 Piper talks about the minor point...
When Paul says "those who receive the abundance of grace" in verse 17b, he implies, I think, that there are those who do not receive it. In other words, Paul shows us here that "the many" in verse 15 who die because of Adam's sin and the many who experience God's grace are not the same group, for all humans are in Adam, but not all are in Christ. Some receive the grace and some do not.
Then he adds this major point - v17 does not say that we exchange the rule of death for the rule of life, it says even more than that - that we become that rulers!
He does not say that we exchange rulers over us: Death for life. He says more. He says that some day through Jesus Christ, we will move from being ruled by death to becoming ourselves rulers in life...So the final declaration of the supremacy and glory of God's grace in this text is that it takes sinners like us who receive his grace and makes us kings and queens in the age to come. It is almost too good to be true. And if you believe it, if you humbly rest in it, this glorious truth will change your life
Major point summary?

Major point of verse 15: God's ultimate aim is to display the preeminence and glory of his grace over the judgment.

Major point of verse 16: God's grace triumphs not just over one transgression, but over many transgressions and justifies us on the basis of the substitute righteousness of Christ.

Major point of verse 17: The triumph of God's grace will not simply replace life with death, but will make us reign in life like kings in the presence of our Father forever and ever.

Christ is so much more!
John Calvin "Christ is much more powerful to save than Adam was to ruin"

MacArthur adds this practical application of v15....

Jesus Christ can break the power of sin and death. Now listen to me. The converse is not true. Adam and his sin and his death cannot break back into that which Christ has already accomplished...So God's free gift is not to be compared with the offense of Adam. By one man's offense the whole race died. To a much greater degree, God's grace and the gift of Jesus Christ has overflowed aboundingly forever and ever and ever through Christ to those who follow Him.
What is the practical use? It is the confident assurance that once we are in Christ we are there forever. And that fills our hearts with hope, doesn't it? And joy and thanksgiving and praise and we live without fear that anyone can break back through the power of Christ.

And v16.  With only one sin, the whole world was condemned.  That's how seriously God takes sin.  It only took one sin by one man to condemn the entire world.  But Christ's forgiveness, Christ's justification so great, that not only can it handle one sin, it can handle the weight of innumerable sins!  Doesn't that put our own sin into perspective.  That God could hate sin that much, and yet still offer us grace, it's phenomenal!

God hates sin so much so that one sin damned the whole human race, and He hates that sin so much and yet He takes all the sins of all the human race and He puts them on Himself and He bears in His body our sins....the only thing that is more powerful in the heart of God than His hatred of sin is His love of the sinner.

And v17 - God is a transformer of life.  Adam's sin didn't make him God like he thought it would, it condemned him.  But Christ produces even more than the desired results, He turns slaves into a kings and empowers us to rule over sin and darkness.

How amazing is our God?!

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 5:18-19
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Luke 16:1-17:10

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday, October 26th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Luke 12-13.
Today's scripture focus is Romans 5:12-14.

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned 13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

We have been reconciled to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  A question that would naturally follow would be to wonder how it's possible for one man (Jesus) to save all of mankind?  In order to answer that question, Paul draws an analogy between Adam and Christ.  And our passage today talks about Adam and the reign of death.

MacArthur shows us that the flow of logic goes like this....
Sin entered the world through one man.  (Sin already existed prior to this, because Satan has sinned, but Adam introduced it to the human realm, and passed on the corrupting principle of sin into the human race)
Death entered the world through sin.
Death spread to all men.
Death reigns over all.

And what he's really saying is you shouldn't be surprised that one man's act could affect so many, you should have remembered that Adam's one act affected the whole human race. We all fell in Adam, we all sinned in Adam. We can all be made righteous in Christ in the same way, it is analogous.

John Piper makes some interesting points as well....

Adam, the first man, had a unique burden of responsibility for leadership when he was created which Eve did not have. The reason we say this is that, even though Genesis shows that Eve was the one Satan picked to tempt, and in one sense she broke the specific commandment first not to eat of the tree, that made no difference to God or to Paul; they held the man accountable. When God came to call the couple to account, Genesis 3:9 says, "The LORD God called the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And when Paul talks about how sin entered the world and how we are all now sinners because of that first sin, he looks straight to Adam and not to Eve as the head and responsible one.

None of this is incidental. It is woven all through the Bible. The point is not that women aren't responsible or have no dealings with God directly. The point is that God holds men responsible for a unique role of leadership and protection and provision. So men, boys (who will become men); God designed you for this burden of responsibility. It is your calling. And if you fulfill it with humble, sacrificial love, it will be your glory as well....

The main point of the text is that what Christ has done for all who are in him is far greater than what Adam did for all who were in him.
* The obedience of Christ is parallel, but vastly superior, to the disobedience of Adam.
* The righteousness imputed to those who are in Christ is parallel, but vastly superior, to the sin imputed to those who are in Adam because of his disobedience.
* The life that comes to us who are in Christ through that imputed righteousness is parallel, but vastly superior, to the death that comes to those who are in Adam through that imputed sin.

In the next sermon in that series, John Piper adds that it's crucially important that we understand that Adam's sin imputed sin to us.  It is not just that we sin individually (which we do, obviously) but that sin is literally now in our DNA, in our nature - it's been imputed to us.

The reason it's so important to see that is because that's why it makes sense that Christ's death and resurrection allows God to imputed His righteousness to us.

Piper explains more fully....

Let me try to illustrate what's at stake. If you say, "Through one man sin and death entered the world and death spread to everybody because all sinned individually," then the comparison with the work of Jesus could be, "So also through one man, Jesus Christ, righteousness and life entered the world and life spread to all because all individually did acts of righteousness." In other words, justification would not be God's imputing Christ's righteousness to us, but our performing individual acts of righteousness with Christ's help and then being counted righteous on that basis. When Paul saw that as a possible misunderstanding of what he said, he stopped to clarify.
But what does it say about the work of Christ, if we take the words, "because all sinned" to mean "because all sinned in Adam"? Then it would go like this: "Just as through one man sin and death entered the world and death spread to everybody because all sinned in Adam and his sin was imputed to them, so also through one man Jesus Christ, righteousness entered the world and life through righteousness, and life spread to all who are in Christ because his righteousness is imputed to them." That is the glory of justification by grace through faith. The basis of our vindication and acceptance before God is not our righteous deeds, but Christ's righteousness imputed to us. But this would be all distorted if the words "because all sinned" at the end of verse 12 meant "because all sinned individually," and not because all sinned in Adam and his sin was imputed to us.
The parallel Paul wants us to see and rejoice in is that
  • *just as Adam's sin is imputed to us because we were in him,
  • *so Christ's righteousness is imputed to us because we are in him.

I found v13-14 a bit confusing, but Piper gives an excellent explanation...

everybody died. Everybody was punished.
Now what's the implication Paul wants us to see? He wants us to see that universal human death was not owing to individual sins against the Mosaic Law but to their sinning in Adam. That is what he is trying to clarify. Verse 12 says that "death spread to all because all sinned." So Paul argues and clarifies: But people died even though their own individual sins against the Mosaic law were not the reason for dying; they weren't counted. Instead, the reason all died is because all sinned in Adam. Adam's sin was imputed to them.
But now there is an objection at this point to Paul's argument, and Paul can see it coming. The objection is that even before Mosaic Law there were commands of God to Noah and Abraham and others, so maybe their death was owing to disobeying those "laws," not because they sinned in Adam. And not only that, the objection would go, Paul himself said back in Romans 1:32 that all people – even Gentiles outside Israel – in their consciences "know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death." So there seem to be two exceptions to Paul's argument: Yes, there is no Mosaic Law to sin against before Moses, but there are personal revelations; and there is the law written on the heart. So, Paul, have you really shown that the people between Adam and Moses died for sinning in Adam and not for their own individual sins against these laws?
I said Paul sees this objection coming and, I think, that's why he adds the next words in verse 14. He doesn't stop by saying, "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses. . ." He goes on to add the very crucial words, "[Death reigned] even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam." In other words, yes he concedes that there are other kinds of laws before the Mosaic Law, and yes people broke those laws, and yes, one could argue that these sins are the root cause of death and condemnation in the world. But, he says, there is a problem with that view, because death reigned "even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam." There are those who died without seeing a law and choosing to sin against it.
Who are they? I think the group of people begging for an explanation is infants. Infants died. They could not understand personal revelation. They could not read the law on their hearts and choose to obey or disobey it. Yet they died. Why? Paul answers: the sin of Adam and the imputation of that sin to the human race. In other words, death reigned over all humans, even over those who did not sin against a known and understood law. Therefore, the conclusion is, to use the words of verse 18: "through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men."
This is Paul's clarification: At the end of verse 12 the words, "death spread to all men, because all sinned" mean that "death spread to all because all sinned in Adam." Death is not first and most deeply because of our own individual sinning, but because of what happened in Adam....

Why, precisely here at this point, did Paul say that Adam is a type of Christ?
If you haven't gotten anything else, get this. Because this is your life. Right here he says that Adam is a pattern for Christ because the all-important parallel is seen here. What? The parallel here is this: The judicial consequences of Adam's sin are experienced by all his people not on the basis of their individually doing sins like he did, but on the basis of their being in him and his sin being imputed to them. As soon as that becomes clear in Paul's argument, he brings in Christ as the parallel: The judicial consequences of Christ's righteousness are experienced by all his people not on the basis of their doing righteous deeds like he did, but on the basis of their being in him and his righteousness being imputed to them....
The deepest reason why death reigns over all is not because of our individual sins, but because of Adam's sin imputed to us. So the deepest reason eternal life reigns is not because of our individual deeds of righteousness, but because of Christ's righteousness imputed to us by grace through faith.
O how much light this sheds on why Paul embarked on this paragraph at all! He did it for the sake of our faith and our assurance and our joy. He did it to underline the fact that our right standing with God and our freedom from condemnation is not based on our righteous acts but on Christ's righteous acts.
This is the foundation of the great Biblical truth of justification by grace alone through faith alone. It has rescued thousands of saints from the despair of legalism and the paralyzing fear of imperfection. Christ became obedient even unto death so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Here is rest for your soul. Here is a message that everyone you will ever meet needs to hear. Christ is our righteousness. Trust him. Trust him. Trust him.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 5:15-17
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Luke 14-15

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday, October 25 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Luke 10-11; John 10:22-42.
Today's scripture focus is Romans 5:9-11.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

These are praise and thanksgiving verses to me.  We are justified by his blood!  We are saved from God's wrath!  Jesus is alive and we have eternal life through Him!  We rejoice in God through Jesus because we are saved, reconciled, cleansed!  I looked up the word rejoice, and it says to feel or express great joy or happiness!  

MacArthur says the following:

"We also rejoice exceedingly in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received the reconciliation." If there is one thing, one emotion, one attitude, one disposition that should dominate the life of a Christian, it is is joy. What else do you want if this doesn't bring you joy? What are you holding out for? That's the issue. Salvation is not merely a future, it is a present joy in anticipation of that future. That is why Paul says, "Rejoice always, and again I say rejoice." That is why it's a sin not to have joy. What do you want out of life? More contentment? More comfort? More agreement? More stuff? More what? What is the source of your joy if it's not this? Everything else is less than this. Everything else is considerably less than this. Everything else is wood, hay and stubble.
Not only all of these wonderful things, but because of all these wonderful things, we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ because all of them have come to us through this unearned, undeserved reconciliation.
I really do believe that the single greatest mark of spirituality is I'm not talking about silliness, frivolity, kind of a slap-happy attitude, irresponsible mentality that doesn't take into account serious things. I'm talking about an unassailable, deep-seeded settled joy that nothing in this world circumstantially can move...can't move it. My soul will make her boast in the Lord, O magnify the Lord with me and let's exalt His name together. I will rejoice in the Lord, says the psalmist, I will joy in the God of my salvation. I will go to the altar of my God, to God, my exceeding joy.
There's nothing to boast about in us, it's all through our Lord Jesus Christ. And the end of it all is joy. And if your life isn't dominated by joy, then you've lost touch with the greatness of the gifts that come in your salvation. You are secure forever, unalterably so. You have been given divine peace, divine grace, divine hope, divine love, divine deliverance and divine joy.

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Romans 5:12-14.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  Luke 12-13.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday, October 24th

Today's passage from the Chronological Bible In a Year Reading Plan is John 9:1-10:21
Today's scripture focus is Romans 5:6-8

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What kind of love is the love of God?  Incredible.  Indescribable!

We are sinners.  With no strength of our own to overcome sin, Satan, death or hell. We are powerless to please God.  We are ungodly.  The opposite of God.

And He loves us still.

There is nothing we can do to make God love us more.  There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.  God's love has nothing to do with us.

God loves because it His nature to love.

MacArthurInfinitely holy God who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, cannot look upon iniquity. The God who hates every sin, every evil deed, evil thought, evil word, despises it with the fury of all of heaven, that He could reach out and love ungodly, impotent sinners. That is the surpassing nature of divine love....If God can love us when we are ungodly, wicked, impotent sinners, if He can love us enough to have His Son die for us to save us when we are godless, will He not love us enough to keep us after we have become His children? ...And the confidence of that love, that forgiving love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that when I sin I don't duck and expect God to whack me and send me to hell, I cry out - O Father by Your love forgive me...because I have the sense of His love....If God gave the greatest gift His love could give which is His Son to save us, and then gave the greatest gift He could give, His Spirit to fill our hearts with love, will He not do less to keep us? His love hasn't changed. He loved us when we were wretched. He still does.

This wondrous fact reminds me of this song....

How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townsend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

and this hymn...

The Love of God by Frederick Lehman

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men, who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 5:9-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Luke 10-11, John 10:22-42