The Move From the Law to Faith -Romans 3-4

In Romans 3, Paul tells them that Jews are no better and no worse than the Gentiles. All, he says, have sinned. He says that the Gentiles are now true Jews by way of the Spirit, Paul then addresses the question that would naturally come from the Jews.  Was there no advantage or value of being a Jew, or of being circumcised?  Paul says that indeed there was.  The Jews had been the keepers of the “oracles of God” (verse 2) – the Scriptures; and in that capacity at least, they had remained faithful.

Painting by Rembrandt of Paul, one of the most...

Painting by Rembrandt of Paul, one of the most notable of early Christian missionaries, who called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Paul, a Hellenistic Jew, was very influential on the shift of Christianity to Gentile dominated movement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God’s word, as He would make certain, had been preserved; and just as importantly, God had remained faithful to His promises to them, despite the unfaithfulness they had shown to Him. In chapter 4, he speaks about faith throughout the chapter. The point he makes is that the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. It is this transition from the law to faith that is causing contention and division among the Jews there and the Gentiles. They must move past this.

 

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

Acts 28, Romans 1, Romans 2, Romans 3, Romans 4

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

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Stirring Up One Another – Hebrews 10-11

Beginning in verse 11 of Hebrews chapter 10, the writer compares the sacrifices made by the priests under the old law to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Frans Floris - The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, ...

Frans Floris – The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Gathering and Protecting Mankind – WGA7949 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then, speaking of how Christians must work together to hold one another up, verses 23-25 explain what we have discussed before in this blog about “going to church.” So many people are convinced that they can serve God just as well from their own living rooms. But like so many other references, this passage explains that we need each other, and Christianity is not about one’s own selfishness. Salvation cannot be obtained without giving of yourself to your brethren:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Chapter 11 is the well-known “faith” chapter, speaking in detailed examples of faith throughout the scriptures. Verse one is most famous: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

But the writer is not talking about simply a “blind” faith, as skeptics would have you believe. We have a reasoned faith because of a great many evidences that we only have to open our eyes to see. We know that is true because God tells us all throughout the Bible, as Paul told the Romans in Romans 1:18-25:

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Hebrews

Heb. 9, Heb. 10, Heb. 11, Heb. 12, Heb. 13

___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Mustard Seed Faith – (Luke 17)

English: Mustard seeds by David Turner Februar...

English: Mustard seeds by David Turner February 23, 2005 Edited by Consequencefree to replace the coin with an SI measurement reference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the opening verses of chapter 17, Jesus acknowledges that temptations are a part of life. But He warns about those who tempt others to sin. He repeats the thought of verse two in Matthew 18:6 and also in Mark 9:42. Particularly in Matthew, He seems to be talking about those who would cause children to stumble; and certainly the application is valid there as well. But He is, more to the point, speaking about those who are innocent – those who are trying to do what is right, as well as what we would call people who are babes in Christ. A horrible physical death as He describes here would be better than the eternal punishment that is for those who corrupt them .

The statement in verse 6 that Jesus makes about faith is a hyperbole. Jesus is not suggesting that we should expect to perform miraculous deeds because of our faith. Faith has great power indeed – if it is used according to God’s will. The trouble is usually with the strength of our faith. Peter was able to walk on water for a while, as Jesus willed him to. But when the storm surged against him, his faith faltered. And so it usually goes with all of us.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Hands on the Plow – (Luke 9)

In verse 37, Jesus comes down from the mountain after the transfiguration, and is again met by a crowd. But there was a man there whose son had been possessed by a demon since early childhood. This account is in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:14-20, Mark 9:14-29), and reading them all helps to clarify. The symptoms the boy had have led some to conclude that he had epilepsy, but that is clearly not the case. And we certainly know that Jesus would know the difference between a disease and this demon.

Christ healing a boy with a demon

Christ healing a boy with a demon

This one is evidently a singularly malevolent demon, and the man tells Jesus that His disciples had been unable to cast it out. In verse one, we are told that Jesus “called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons.” So Jesus’ remarks about faith are on target. In Mark, he tells them that this kind can only be driven out by prayer. It is the building of their faith through prayer that would have made the difference; and this is a point that Mark’s account expounds on. We may never have enough faith to move mountains, but together with the power Jesus had given them, His apostles certainly had it within reach!

As the disciples were excitedly regarding all these things He had done, Jesus again talks about His impending death, saying Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” As Jesus well knows, they aren’t getting it. And the next verse lets us know that they are not supposed to “get it” yet really. Verse 45 says “But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.” All of this would come together for them after Pentecost.

It is nearly comical that just after their failure of faith, the disciples begin arguing about which of them is “the greatest.” They do not yet understand what Jesus’ true mission is, nor what is to become of Him. They only imagine how prominently they will fit into His kingdom. The child He brings by His side in verse 47 illustrates that having proper regard for one so small in stature and station is akin to having regard for Jesus – and thus for God. Therefore, He tells them, whoever is “least” among them is the greatest. The meaning here is of being least in regard for one’s self. Putting one’s self last and others first is the message Jesus has hammered home again and again.

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Jesus was rejected on the next part of their journey by a Samaritan village because “his face was set toward Jerusalem” (Jews and Samaritans had little regard for each other). The disciples wanted to cause  “fire to come down from heaven and consume them,” which again is almost comical considering recent events. One gets the idea they were becoming a bit “puffed up.” Jesus, of course, rebukes them for even asking such a thing.

Verses 57-62 speak of some who wanted to follow Jesus but had other matters to attend to. Jesus’ answers to them reflect the fact that He must move quickly, and much is left to do. This meant that those who would be physically following Him must make doing so the singular priority in their lives right away, due to that urgency. Now, we are not expected to fore-go even attending our parent’s funeral in order to serve the Lord. But the application to our lives is nonetheless clear. Once we become Christians, that commitment in our lives trumps everything.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Such Faith – (Luke 7)

After He finished the “Sermon on the Plain,” Jesus went back into Capernaum and was met by Jewish elders. They had been asked to come by a Roman Centurion. Originally, a Centurion commanded 80 men, but some estimates are that their command – a centuria or “century,” could contain up to 1000 soldiers. That number would likely be closer to the makeup of a “cohort,” which would be under the command of a senior Centurion. The average Roman soldier during this time earned about 225 denarii per year.  But the cost of the soldier’s food and his arms were both deducted from his pay!

English: Centurion (Roman army) historical ree...

English: Centurion (Roman army) historical reenactment Boulogne sur mer (France). Français : Centurion (armée Romaine) Reconstitution historique à Boulogne sur Mer en France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the other hand, estimates are that the most junior of Centurions was paid about 3,700 denarii per year, while a senior Centurion could earn as much as 15,000! This wide disparity meant that these officers would be considered quite wealthy by most Jews, among whom the Centurions lived. The reason for the Centurion sending the Jewish elders to Jesus was because he had heard of Jesus’ healings, and he had a “highly valued” servant that was dying from some illness. The elders pleaded with Jesus to help this Gentile soldier in this matter because he had built their synagogue, confirming that this Centurion was indeed wealthy.

But as Jesus and the elders approached their destination, they were met by people with a message from the Centurion, saying both that he was not worthy and that it was not necessary for Jesus to actually come to his home. Instead, he expressed his belief that Jesus could heal his servant just by saying that it was so – without even seeing his servant. And of course, he was right about that. Jesus’ statement that “even in Israel” he had not seen such faith serves as one more example that indicates the intentions the Lord had of including the Gentiles in His plan of salvation.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Proverbs 14 – The End of Joy May Be Grief

depression_anxiety_003Verse 10 says that “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” No matter how close we get to someone, rarely does anyone ever reach the point that we share every detail of the heart. Almost without exception it is just human nature to hold something back – at a minimum, the darkest moments are not shared. By the same token, nobody who is not close truly shares the joy that comes to us at those rare times when fortunes are at their best.

Verse 13 says “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” Outward appearances can sometimes be deceptive; and we do not always know what is in another’s heart. Many times, people surround themselves with those they believe will make them happy, hoping the sorrow will go away. But often, the charade ends up leaving them still in need of support.

The answer to these enigmas is prayer. The Lord knows our needs and wants to listen to us when we are in despair. Casting our burdens on him is not simply a good thing to do – it is scriptural; and develops the trust in Him that we need.

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 13 – Always Rejoicing

In verses 7-9, the Holy Spirit teaches us that which is of the greatest value in life, yet is seldom seen as such by most people. Nobody begins life as an adult by seeking to be unsuccessful. We get the best education that we can. We try to earn our wages in a field in which we possess some skill; and if possible, we try to put some away for our later years when we are no longer able to work. For some, success at doing these things comes very easily. Others do not always find that to be the case.

early 1890sV. 7
One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
V. 8
The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
but a poor man hears no threat.
v. 9
The light of the righteous rejoices,
but the lamp of the wicked will be put out

Are the wealthy always so much better off than the poor indeed? The accumulation of such great wealth, though appealing to most of us, does not always result in the best quality of life. Mountains of money and endless possessions did not seem to make life joyous for Howard Hughes. Elvis Presley’s fame and fortune often kept him from going out in public, and he died seemingly “before his time” as did Michael Jackson.

family reunionMy parents were “products” of the Great Depression, and knew first-hand what poverty was like. My father had to leave school in the 8th great to go to work just so the family could survive. They never had much in worldly possessions when they were growing up; and after the Great War, life was still a struggle. We never had great wealth even after I was born, but I and my siblings never knew what it was like to be truly hungry or to do without any of what most people would consider to be the real necessities of life. All the way into my teenage years, I often marveled at the simple life my grandparents still lived in a house no larger in square footage than the game room in my current home.

But who is rich, and who is poor really? My grandparents and their siblings made up a large extended family that was always close through the years before and after the “baby boom.” And though they had little in the way of material wealth, they were incredibly happy because they had been given a precious gift – great love for the Lord, and for each other. and nearly 60 years later, the family reunions have remained large in numbers.

Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 come to mind:

…We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalm 119:145-152; Psalm 93 – The Lord Reigns

qophThis stanza of Psalm 119 begins each verse with the Hebrew letter “qoph,” the 19th letter of the Aleph-Bet.  The origin of the letter, which resembles the English letter “P,” is sometimes said to be a sewing needle.  Others say it is the human neck and head.  The focus of the stanza is on calling on the Lord  in times of trouble, and of assurance that He is near always.

Psalm 93 is a song of praise to God as King and ruler of the universe, similar to the longer Psalm 29.  It has the distinct air of having been written at a time when God’s people had been in peril from an outside enemy or enemies (the “floods” of verse 3), recognizing that God is “mightier than the waves of the sea” (verse 4).  It gives God the glory for holding the universe in stability (verses 1-2), and for the absolute truth of His word (verse 5).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 17 – Where Then Is My Hope?

storm-01In chapter 17, Job is, of course, still at his lowest, and in so many words – a shadow of his former self.  His pain and immense grief having long given way to despair, he tells his friends to speak to him again (verse 10).  But he is certain that they will not offer anything better than they have already (“come on again, all of you, and I shall not find a wise man among you”).

But contrary to how it may seem, Job is not saying that he has given up hope.  Surely, he says, his days are past and his plans are broken off (verse 11).  But he pleads with God to “put up security” for him (verse 3).  Certain that he has closed the hearts of his friends to true understanding, he asks God not to allow their assessment of him to be vindicated in his death.

For then, he says in verse 15, “Who will see my hope?”  Job still has held on to one thing even at this point – his trust in the Lord, that He is just.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Psalms 37:21-40 – The Lord Loves Justice

Eastman Johnson - The Lord is my Shepard - Oil...

Eastman Johnson – The Lord is my Shepard – Oil on wood -16.625 x 13.125 in – c 1863 – Scanned from Eastman Johnson: Painting America – fig 76 pg 141 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This entire psalm is quite elegant.  To begin with, it is an acrostic.  Verse 1 begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, verse three with the second letter, and so on.   It is not intuitively apparent, but in addition to being alphabetic, it is an elaborate chiasmus, where verses repeat themes, ideas, etc. in an A-B-B-A structure.  in this case, the entire psalm appears to do so as in this example:

verses 1-11  The Lord is faithful to the righteous
verses 12-15 Righteousness will prevail
verses 16-20 The Lord upholds the righteous
verses 21-24 Righteousness delights the Lord
verses 25-31 The Lord upholds the righteous
verses 32-33 Righteousness will prevail
verses 34-40 The Lord is faithful to the righteous

Robert Alden suggests a much more elaborate Chiasmus within as follow (Alden, Robert l., “Everyman’s Bible Commentary, Vol I”, Moody Publishers, 1958):

“1-8    A    The righteous are exhorted to ignore
the wicked and trust God
9      B    Wait and inherit the land
10-15    C    The righteous inherit but the Lord
destroys the plotting wicked
16    D    The poor are blessed though poor
17    E    The Lord upholds the righteous
18a    F    The Lord guides the righteous
18b    G    The righteous inherit
19    H    The righteous    receive
20a    I    The wicked perish
20b    J    The wicked are like a sacrifice
20c    J    The wicked are like a sacrifice
21a    I    The wicked give not
21b    H    The righteous give
22    G    The blessed inherit
23    F    The Lord guides the righteous
24    E    The Lord upholds
25-26    D    The blessed may be poor but not forsaken
27-33    C    The Lord loves the righteous who
will live and inherit, but the plotting
wicked will die
34    B    Wait and inherit the land
35-40    A    God destroys the wicked but saves the righteous

The basic message of the psalm is the safety and blessing of those who trust in God and the insecurity of the ungodly.”

The second half of this psalm implores us to turn away from the evil ways of the world and strive to do good, give generously, wait for the Lord, and keep His way (verses 21, 27, 34).  Verse 28 says that the Lord loves justice and will not forsake his saints.  The psalmist says he was young and now is old but has never seen the righteous forsaken, or God’s children begging for bread.  There is future for the man of peace, he says.

He is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
the Lord helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

Taking refuge in the Lord means more than just turning to Him in times of trouble.  It means trusting in God, not only when we are fearful, down-trodden or discouraged, but keeping that trust alive through all of the good times and the bad, the joy and the sorrow – all of the days of our lives.   A faith based solely on expectations of protection and comfort is worthless if it is not there also when we must weather the storms.  The key is to remember that He does not abandon us.  Repeated again and again the scriptures exclaim that we must often “wait for the Lord.”  It is the ability to do that with the assurance of hope that keeps us strong and carries us through difficulty.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.