Romans in 9 Movements

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Over the past 16 months, we have preached through the book of Romans at Wildwood Community Church.  The 43 sermons walked us verse by verse through Romans 1:1 – 16:27.  We arranged our study in 9 different series, represented in the graphic above.  It is our hope that these 9 divisions will help you remember the truth God has given us inside Paul’s masterful Epistle.

Below is a a summary of Romans in a single paragraph, using the series titles as keywords:

There is Good News for people everywhere!  This good news (or gospel) shows the power of God which is able to deliver salvation to those who believe.  In Christ, the righteousness of God is given to sinful people like you and me.  We receive this gracious gift of salvation NOT by our works, but by faith.  This is the way it has always been in God’s economy.  From Abraham to Christ (the ABC’s of Faith), we have seen that the righteous live by faith.  When we come into a relationship with God by faith, we are Set Free from sin’s necessary rule in our lives.  We now have a choice to live out a new life in Christ.  However, there is a problem.  As we try to live out our new life in Christ, we do so inside the old address of our flesh.  Therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a truly Spiritual Life, walking with the God who loves us.  Now, if our hope is tied to God and His work in our lives, how do we know He will be faithful to make good on His promises?  We find out the faithfulness of God by looking at the way He has dealt with other members of His spiritual Family Tree.  By seeing how God has been faithful to His children Israel, we can have faith that He will make good on His promises to us as well.  Once we realize all that God has done for us in Christ, we want to respond and Aim our lives – pointed towards His purpose for us, laying down our lives as a living sacrifice before Him.  As we do this, we will live out our lives in a secular world but inside of His sovereignty as we live in Nations Under God.  We are truly to honor our government, but we are to Walk in Love with our fellow Christian, limiting our freedoms to not tear down our brother or sister who Christ is building up.  All this knowledge of Christ leads to our involvement with Christ in His great Co:Mission, taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  The Gospel is the power of God that is able to strengthen us . . . and those around us.  Given this incredible truth, it is not a surprise that Paul ends praising God – “to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ!  Amen!” (Romans 16:27)

Let us thank God together for the power of the Gospel — the Good News of Jesus Christ!

 

Series Titles:

Good News (part 7) Sermon Audio/Video

On Sunday, September 27, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Romans 3:21-31.  This message was the seventh (and final) part in the “Good News” series.  The sermon audio and video are posted below.

 

To listen to the audio offline, click on the link below to download:

Good News part 7

 

To listen to the audio online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon video, use the Vimeo video posted below:

 

To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.

 

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Good News (part 7) Sermon Audio & Questions

On Sunday, September 27, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Romans 3:21-31.  This message was part 7 in the “Good News” series.  Below is the sermon audio and a few questions related to the message for further reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Audio:

To listen to the sermon offline, click on the link below to download the sermon audio:

Good News part 7
To listen to the sermon online, use the media player below:

 

Questions:

  1. Read Romans 3:21-31
  2. Can you think about a time when learning how something worked gave you MORE confidence that you could trust that thing?
  3. Based on your study of Romans 1-3 (including this message from Romans 3:21-31) how does salvation “work”?
  4. Romans 3:22 highlights the importance of the “faithfulness” of Jesus for our salvation.  Why was Jesus perfect moral life necessary for our salvation?
  5. In 3:24-25 a variety of terms are used. To the best of your understanding, define what “justification,” “redemption,” and “propitiation” mean.
  6. Jesus’ blood paid for all our sin.  Are there any sins that in your own life that you have a hard time believing that Jesus’ death really paid for?
  7. We activate the saving power of Jesus Christ in our life by faith, not works.  By belief in Him, we are saved by Him.  Has there ever been a time in your life where you embraced Jesus as your savior?
  8. What stood out to you most from this study/message?

 

To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.

 

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Mortgage Spirituality (Good News week 7 Devo)

by Mark Robinson

Millions of Americans own their home.  At least that is what they tell people.  In actuality, most do NOT own their home.  If they owned their home, they would not have to make payments each month to lenders for their right to live there. I own the pair of shoes I am wearing right now, and since I own them, I do not have to pay Nike $10 a month for the right to wear my shoes.  Not continuing to pay for something, in my mind, is the definition of owning it.  Given this definition, how can we say that millions of Americans who make payments on their houses each month own their houses?  Based on my other experiences in ownership, this just doesn’t make sense.

Home ownership is a funny concept in this day and age.  With the rise in housing costs and the urbanization boom that has swept over the country in the past hundred years, the home mortgage has become a necessary step to many people having a place to live.  Banks are willing to loan out money equal to the value of a home to qualified buyers, under the assumption that the buyer will pay back this money over a fixed period of time plus interest.

Most people today have grown up with an understanding of what a mortgage is, and the role it plays in helping people move into a home today that they would not ever be able to afford otherwise.  Since we have grown up in a mortgage culture, is it possible that the concept of a mortgage has infected our understanding of salvation?  Here is what I mean. . .

I believe that there are many people today who practically view salvation as a spiritual mortgage transaction.  Understanding the notion that all people are sinful and separated from God, we have come to know none of us have the personal righteousness in our bank account to please a holy God.  Therefore, we understand the need for a giant deposit of righteousness to be made into our spiritual account from Jesus Christ in order to “get us in” to a relationship with God today, even if we could not “afford” it on our own.  The rest of our lives, we make daily, weekly, monthly, or annual “paybacks” to Jesus through our devotion that help to “keep us into” our relationship with God.  Taking this analogy to its very end, we believe that if we ever stop making our weekly payments to God through church attendance, good deeds, partaking in communion, etc., that we would then be evicted from the good graces of God, and see our eternal security foreclosed on by our God, the lender.  This is a crude analogy, and somewhat of an overstatement, but I believe at our core, many of us today are living our lives with a spiritual mortgage mindset.

So what is the problem with this mortgage mindset?  At one level it seems to makes sense to us.  At the most important level, however, it is just flat out heresy.  Our God is not a lender, He is a giver.  Salvation is not something we pay back, it is something He paid for.  We are not in debt to God, we are heirs of His great promises!  This is quite a switch.

In Romans 3, we see this played out in vivid detail.  After spending the better part of the first three chapters of the book of Romans convincing mankind that we are all sinful, Paul concludes in Romans 3:9, “What shall we conclude then?  Are we any better?  Not at all!  We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.”  Paul goes on to let us know that our need before God is not partial, but total.  Our salvation is not 20% us and 80% God.  Since our need is total, our salvation needs to be 100% God’s gift to us.  The great news of the gospel is that God was willing to provide 100% of the funds for our salvation, and not require us to pay it back (which is great, because we could never “afford it”.)  Romans 3:25-26 say it this way, “God presented Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.  He did this to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”  The price of our home in heaven is 100% paid for by Christ on the cross!  This gift is truly a gift, as Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.  However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”  In other words, we do not pay back the deposit of righteousness that Christ places in our spiritual accounts the moment we trust in Him.  We merely receive this as an unbelievable gift!

Take a moment and think through your perspective about the Christian life.  Do you view your relationship with God as a free gift, or as a 70 year mortgage?  Do you see your sin (past, present, and future) as paid for or still requiring further payment by you?  Do you realize the full extent of the blessings you have been given in Christ?  If you have trusted in Christ, your salvation is paid for . . . you are completely forgiven.

 

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Romans 3:25-31 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Adam Geurkink.

  1. Take a moment to pray.  Praise God for His Word and ask Him to teach you its truth, just as the psalmist prayed in Psalm 119:12-16, “Praise be to You, O Lord; teach me Your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.  I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.  I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your Word.”
  2. Read Romans 3:25-31
  3. God gave the nation of Israel a complex and elaborate system of sacrifices for the atonement of sin as a nation and individually.  However, Hebrews 10:3 states it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. In Romans 3:25, Paul says that “God put forward as a propitiation by His blood (Jesus’) to be received by faith”. What does propitiation mean and how is it different than the ceremonial rites of the Israelites in the Old Testament?
  4. How does the satisfaction of God’s wrath by the sacrifice of Jesus (propitiation) show God’s righteousness? Do you think Jesus’ sacrificial death had to happen to show God’s righteousness? Why or why not?
  5. God has revealed to us in His word and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, His plan for redeeming mankind. Seeing this plan as Paul describes it, how is God both “just” and the “justifier” as described in 3:25?
  6. C.S. Lewis says in his book “Mere Christianity” that pride is the sin that leads to all other sins. If boasting is the outward expression of pride, why can we not boast over others about our salvation?
  7. 3:28 states the Christian understanding of how a person is justified before God and how he is not. Is there anything else, besides faith, that justifies a person, or does it require faith in Jesus, alone?
  8. There was, at the time of Paul’s writing, an enormous cultural gap in the early church between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. What do you suppose a gathering of Christians would have looked like when the Jews(who were deeply entrenched in Jewish custom like circumcision) and the Gentiles (who may not have known who Moses was) got together?
  9. Is it helpful to be able to look past the differences between  Christians (political, social, national, etc..) when we realize that we all come to Jesus on equal ground by faith only?
  10. Probably the most common objection to justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is that it will lead to moral chaos. If we know that obedience to the law is not required to be reconciled to God, do we then have license to live disobedient lives? How does Paul answer that? When you realized the gift of salvation given to you by God in Christ Jesus was free, was your response one of sinning more, or did you find you were being more obedient out of gratitude?

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Good News (part 6) Sermon Audio & Video

On Sunday, September 20, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Romans 3:1-20.  This message was part 6 in the “Good News” series.  Below is the sermon audio and video for online viewing or download.

 

To listen to the sermon offline later, click on the link below to download:

Good News part 6

 

To listen to the sermon online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon video, use the Vimeo Video below:

 

To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.

 

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Romans 3:24-25 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Adam Geurkink.

  1. As you prepare your heart for study, know that God desires to reveal Himself to you, and He has given you His Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.  Before you open in prayer, consider Jeremiah 9:23-24.  “This is what the Lord declares: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Pray for this understanding and knowledge of God with the Holy Spirit as your guide.
  2. Read Romans 3:24-25
  3. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted in every way but was without sin. He was perfect in His obedience to the Law of God. The righteousness that God demands He provides in the perfect life and sacrifice of Jesus. It is Jesus’ righteousness that we need. How is that righteousness given to us?
  4. When the righteousness of Jesus’ is given to someone, that person is declared to be “justified”. Justification is not a word that we use commonly but is considered to be the point on which “the Church stands or falls”.  What does justification mean, and is it a one time declaration or is it an ongoing process?
  5. Paul says that we are justified by grace as a gift. How does thinking of justification as a gift help you understand what God has done to save us?
  6. Redemption is another seldom used word in our culture, but it is helpful to understand the sinner’s position or situation that God finds us in when we are left to ourselves. What does redemption mean, and how does it clarify your understanding of mankind’s condition?

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Romans 3:21-23 Questions (Good News Study)

The questions for this week’s study were written by Adam Geurkink.

  1. As you pray for your study today, ask God to use His Word in your life as the writer of Hebrews prayed in Hebrews 13:20-21: “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen.”
  2. Read Romans 3:21-23
  3. Up to this point in his letter, Paul has laid out how everyone lives (and dies) by some kind of  law. For the Jew it is the law given to Moses on Mount Sinai and for gentiles and Jews before the law given to Moses, it is our conscience or natural law. By whatever law we live, Paul makes clear that we fail to keep the law, and are thus under God’s just judgment and penalty. God’s perfect holiness and character demands justice. What two words in 3:21 give us reason to hope for God’s mercy from the just condemnation Paul has described in the previous 2 and a half chapters?
  4. “The righteousness of God” was a phrase that used to terrify Martin Luther, but later became a great comfort to him. What does “righteousness” mean and why would it terrify him if not understood properly in this passage?
  5. The Law has been described as a mirror that shows us who we are, compared to what we should be. It has been said “you don’t use a mirror to wash your face, the mirror only shows you where the dirt is”. If the mirror is the law, what is it that cleanses us?
  6. It is common to hear people say “nobody’s perfect” and “everyone sins”. Does God demand perfection from us?
  7. If you answered yes to the above question, and Paul is right when he says “there is no one righteous, no not one”, where do we have any hope of  acquiring the perfection He demands? Can this righteousness be found within us or do we have to look outside of ourselves to find it?

To access the entire “Good News” Study, click here.

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Good News part 6 Sermon Audio & Questions

On Sunday, September 20, 2015 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based out of Romans 3:1-20.  This message was part 6 in the “Good News” series.  Below you will find the sermon audio (in case you missed this message) and questions for personal reflection or group discussion based on the message.

 

To download the audio of the sermon to listen to later, click on the link below:

Good News part 6

 

To listen to the audio online, use the media player below:

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Read Romans 3:1-20
  2. For the past 4 weeks, we have been walking through Romans 1:18-3:20.  These verses detail mankind’s sinfulness in a graphic way.  Have you found yourself getting restless in this section of God’s Word, wondering “are we there (to the good news) yet?”  Why do you think Paul has taken so much time explaining mankind’s sinfulness?
  3. In Romans 3:1-8, Paul is having a hypothetical argument with a Jewish person who may have tried to “talk their way” out of God’s judgment.  What are some of the arguments Paul’s hypothetical counterpart is making in this section?  How does Paul answer them?
  4. What are some examples you can think of today from people you know who try to “talk their way” out of being under God’s judgment?
  5. From 3:9-18, Paul quotes a number of Old Testament passages concerning sin.  Up to this point, Paul has largely argued for the sinfulness of mankind based on logic or natural revelation.  If you had no Bible, would you be able to understand that you were a sinner living in a world of sinners?  Why or why not?
  6. The Old Testament passages listed in Romans 3:9-18 reveal how sin is universal and effects people’s relationships with others and with God.  How have you seen the effects of sin in your life?
  7. In 3:19-20, mankind is silent before God, unable to argue that we are not sinners (based on the argument Paul has been making for the past 2 chapters.)  Mankind’s condition (sinner) and the cost of that condition (being under God’s wrath) are two things that have been clearly demonstrated in Romans 1-3.  Have you ever come to grips with your condition as a sinner and the consequences that sin deserves?  How does understanding these points help prepare you to understand the Good News of Jesus Christ?
  8. Have you ever trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?  If so, when?  If not, why not?
  9. What stood out to you most from today’s message?

 

To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.

 

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Under the Black Light (Good News Week 6 Devo)

by Mark Robinson

Visual images are powerful teachers.  The faculty of a Nursing School in Auckland, New Zealand knew this . . . that is why they used it to teach one set of nursing students a valuable lesson.

A few years ago, a friend of mine was attending this school when her class was receiving some instruction on the importance of washing their hands while preparing for service.  Without informing the students of the experiment that they were about to undertake, the professor told the students to wash their hands well, then proceed to the examination room.  After washing their hands, the young nursing students walked into the examination room where they found the overhead lights turned off.  The only light that pierced the darkness of the room was a simple black light that was wanded over their now “clean” hands.  The visual that ensued is an image those students will not soon forget.  The black light revealed lots of dirt, soap residue, and other possible contaminants all over the newly washed hands of the nurses.  The lesson was clear . . . your hands are not as clean as you think they are.  A more thorough cleaning is necessary to prevent contamination and illness.

Romans 1:18-3:20 is one continuous argument.  The point of this section of Paul’s letter to the Romans was to reveal all humanity as lost, sinful, and separated from God.  The irreligious, moral, and religious people of the world ALL fall short of God’s glorious standard.  If the only verses we had in the Bible were Romans 1:18-3:20, we would ascertain that all humanity is sinful and separated from God with no hope of ever achieving salvation.  This is made clear as Romans 3:9 summarizes, “We have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.”

To say it another way, on our own, all people (whether they feel clean or not) are dirty before God.  These verses are like a black light to vividly reveal to us our sinfulness.  Our holy God cannot be contaminated by our sinful residue, so without an appropriate cleaner, humanity has no hope of salvation or a lasting relationship with God.

Thankfully, Romans 1:18-3:20 are not the only verses in the Bible.  Thankfully, these are not the only verses even in the letter Paul gave to the Romans!  Romans 3:1-20 share with us the bad news to prepare us for the GOOD NEWS that God wants us to know about in 3:21-ff.
Jesus is the One and only cleaner who can cleanse us from our sin and present us spotless and without blemish under any black light available.  It is only in Christ that we have hope, and Paul will explain that in great detail beginning in 3:21.

For now, however, in the course of our study of Romans, we need to allow the “black light” of these verses to fulfill their intended effect.  Allow this visual to teach each of us a lasting lesson — that apart from Christ, we are without hope.  Thankfully, this is not all of the story.

 

 

To access the entire “Good News” study, click here.

 

 

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