08.5 Romans – Boasting and Celebrating

A few years ago our hometown team won the baseball world series.  In celebration the entire city came out.  Schools were closed.  Businesses shut down.  People literally parked on the highways and walked to the location of the parade and party.

Everywhere you looked, everyone was wearing uniforms, jerseys, team colors.  Flags, logos, banners.  Cheering, yelling, celebrating.

And what were we celebrating?  That our team scored more points than the other.  That we had more success with a ball and bat.

Now, let’s compare that accomplishment to the accomplishment of Christ.  To defeat death!  To rise, on His accord and own power, from the grave.  To be exalted to the most high.

The boasting and celebrating that Paul discusses is to boast and celebrate in Jesus in the same way we wear the jersey and celebrate the accomplishments of our hometeam.

Whose name is on the back of your jersey?  Hopefully it says Christ Jesus!

My Answers:

10.
justified by His blood, saved from God’s wrath, through Him. Reconciled to him while still God’s enemies. reconciled through the death of His Son, having been reconciled, saved through His life. Boast in God, Through Jesus Christ we have receive reconciliation

11.
a.
balanced, no outlying debt or obligation, brought back into full communion, returned to an original state.

b.
We are reconciled to God – God did not sin and leave, we did.

12.
through Christ’s death and resurrection we are saved. We boast in His gift, his sacrifice and His accomplishment. we don’t “do” anything for He did it all.

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08.4 Romans – Powerless

While we are working on vocabulary this week, let’s look at the word “powerless”.  It does not mean power-reduced or power-decreased.  On a scale of power from 0 to 100 it isn’t a 99, a 90, an 80 or even a 20.  Powerless doesn’t mean we have less power, it means we have ZERO power.  Zip.

Our ability to save ourselves is not a “we can take it part of the way and then God runs the final lap.” We don’t even make it to the starting gate.  We don’t make it to the race.  We don’t even make it out of bed.

Grace is God coming to our house to pick us up and carry us.  Running the good race is to realize all of the strength to run comes from God.  Without the Holy Spirit we have an empty tank and no wheels.

My Answers:

8.
a.
powerless, ungodly, sinners
Because it is clearly not something earned nor do we need to “qualify” for it by ancestry or deeds.

b.
Powerless means without power without ability. We don’t have some ability, we are completely without.

9.
It is unqualified and unearned. Salvation was given in love not reward or obligation.

08.3 Romans – Formula

For my fellow nerds, today’s passage has to be one of the best in the bible.  It is a formula.  A straight forward input/output model.

If you are feeling hopeless and want to gain hope, the formula is straight forward.  To gain hope, you need to add character.  To develop additional character you need perseverance.  To grow in perseverance, you need suffering.

Let’s look at how this makes sense.  As we discussed yesterday, hope is not wishing, hope is anticipation of a time of completeness and unity in God’s Kingdom with fellow believers.  But if we despair or are pulled down by the challenges of this world, how do we grow our hope.  The key input is to gain confidence in God’s promises.  The way to do that is to grow in confidence of our own word and promises.  In other words, to develop our own character.  Character is what we stand for, how we see ourselves and the world and what we choose to do when no one is looking.  As we grow in our own character, we gain an appreciation for the character of God and how He keeps His promises.

To grow character we need to exercise.  Not physical exercise, but discipline all the same.  How to stay the course.  How to stand.  How to be strong.  How to be reliable and resilient.  This doesn’t come from head knowledge, it comes from practice.  From doing and failing and doing again, each time better and stronger.  We persevere.

To persevere, we need challenges, resistance, struggles.  Without struggle, it would be like exercising without weight or movement.  While no one likes or wants struggle it is the only way to practice our ability to persevere.

Do we then pray for struggle?  Do we request God bring hardship into our lives?  In a way, yes, but it is actually far easier than that.  Anytime a Christian steps out in faith to spread the good news and grown the kingdom, we face struggle.  The evil one will through anything and everything in our path, every barrier, every hurdle.

So, the root of the formula is found in Christ’s words, “take up your cross and follow me.”

My Answers:

6.
a.
It is like exercise. I do not enjoy every moment of exercise, but I do it because it builds my body which is a gift from God. In the same way sufferings glorify God because they are exercises that build our perseverance. This in turn build discipline and character. Stronger discipline and character give hope (see 5) because they make me more dependable and God is far more dependable than I

b.
Charles Spurgeon called it the dark night of the soul. When things seem dark, there is always a great God story on the other end. For me it has been mostly health related, but there have been financial struggles, relationships and other training grounds.

7.
Hope in something that will not come would be foolish or shameful. But the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life is a bond securing us to God’s family and a covenant (promised by Jesus) that gives us assuredness of our future.

08.2 Romans – Peace and Hope

We live in a world that waters down and misuses words in such a way that it reduces the meaning and strength of the words.  We see two of these words in our lesson today: Hope and Peace.  Hope has come to mean nothing more than a wish.  I hope I get that raise.  I hope I can fall asleep tonight.  I hope I do well on the test.  Peace is something that is calm and soothing, such as music or a nature scene.  It is something we “give a chance” to.  It is a hand signal, a symbol, a saying.

But the meaning of these words in Paul’s letter is far more significant.  Hope is an anticipated promise, a future that is assured but also longed for.  It is more like someone yearning for home knowing they have tickets in hand or an anticipated family reunion in an exotic land as you set off to the airport.

Peace is the difference between a prisoner hearing a calming song while sitting in their cell and a prisoner being exonerated and declared not guilty and set free to be reunited with family.

Don’t miss the meaning of the words as intended by Paul.  Don’t miss the promise of God they convey and the way the world desires to water down and distort that promise in to something meaningless.

My Answers:

3.
Peace is to be no longer enemies. We fight against God every time we choose to sin because all sin is an act against God. We can only have peace with God by being justified in Christ through our faith in Him. This is as different as healing a calming tune while in prison and being declared not guilty and reunited with long lost loved ones – they don’t compare.

4.
Full access to the grace of God, the holies place in His temple. We can approach God as brothers of Christ and Children of a heavenly father. I do not earn this high regard. I should be grateful and acting in an honoring and respectful way.

5.
Hope is not a wish. It is a looking forward to. My wife and I share a shopping list. If she or I are going to the store, the other may hope (look forward to) the other bringing home items on the list, but we don’t hope (wish with great uncertainty) that they will. Why else would they go to the store as a reliable and dependable family member? Knowing what is to come gives me great strength.