17.5 Romans – Heart Surgery

We all were born with broken spiritual hearts.  Part of infection that came from sin at the fall of man was that our heart was broken because it was no longer directly connected with God in the way it was originally designed.

We can do all kinds of good works.  We can eat right, exercise, avoid certain things, participate in certain others.  None of that is bad, and it does cover over some of the symptoms of our brokenness, but it nor does not fix what is wrong.

Heart surgery may be the closest physical thing we have to the type of trust that we are called to place in God.  When we turn ourselves over to the surgeon, we are completely putting ourselves in their hands.  We have no ability to participate.  They literally stop our heart from beating and we no longer even control the movement of our blood or lungs.

But God is a great physician.  He has a 100% success rate.  And, He sticks around after the surgery as well.

To someone in denial, it seems foolish to put yourself on the table to undergo heart surgery.  But, to those of us who recognize our brokenness, there is not foolishness or shame.  Those in denial think they can do it on their own, but you cannot perform your own heart surgery.

Romans 10:9 is correct, but sometimes we read it in the wrong order.  It isn’t an equation, it is a gift of an operation.  Our great physician picks us out and says, you will be saved.  He then performs surgery on our heart, transplanting part of Himself into us to make us whole.  This then enables us to speak the truth – He is Lord.

We only need undergo surgery once, but we continue to heal and grow the rest of our lives.   As we learn in Psalms 51, we are to call on God daily, saying: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

My Answers:

coveting and pride can take our heart off course
The mouth speaks what fills the heart
Knowledge is not faith – even the demons know God
The H/S lives in God’s children

My heart is His but my lack of discipline in walking with Him allows sin into my life which weakens instead of strengthens.

Faith in something untrustworthy is to be a fool, to be ashamed of an unwise choice. But believing in Him will never lead to shame. Verse 13 clarifies and reinforce the “Him” to be Jesus, our Lord, who we can call on with a clean heart and share in His justification and righteousness and glory

As a child and again 14 years ago

17.4 Romans – You choose: Life or Death

As we read Romans we need to keep in mind that Paul’s primary audience were Jewish believers in Christ in Rome.  They had a deep foundation in the old testament, especially in the Torah, so when Paul brings a few words from Deuteronomy, we read the few words, but they would have immediately known the full story, characters and messages.

Moses is giving the people a choice that they will have to make just before handing the leadership role over to Joshua to take them into the promised land.  He paints it very clearly: I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  You get to choose.  Love God and follow His commandments or turn your hearts away, become disobedient and worship other gods and idols.  The first leads to life and prosperity.  The other gets you thrown out of the land and leads to destruction.

He prefaces this by explaining, this word, this choice they are being given, is not some deep and mysterious thing to ponder.  It isn’t some riddle whose answer is hidden in heaven or some that is hidden in some distant foreign land across the sea.  It is right here.  You know what it means to choose God and you know what it means to disobey.  No tricks, no riddles, no mysteries.

Paul uses these verses to convey the same ultimate message.  You know the choice.  You choose.  Accept the truth that God raised Jesus from the dead and He lives and confess that with your lips.  Or, don’t.  No tricks, no riddles, no deep philosophical diatribes, no mysteries.  You choose.

My Answers:

He goes back to Moses discussion of the law when it was given. It isn’t something we must climb to heaven for or something that we must cross a great divide. It is something that is near to us, it is in our mouth and our heart so we are to proclaim it (see Deut 30:11-14)

Believe in their heart and confess with their mouth

You will be saved: salvation will be bestowed upon you as a gift from Jesus who alone can provide it
Believe with your heart that He paid the price of your sin and overcame death.
Declare with your mouth what is in your heart, Jesus is Lord (including Lord over me)

This is the only way.

17.3 Romans – Zeal

As we move in to Romans 10, Paul shifts from the Jews of the past to his fellow Jews of the present time (at least the present time when he was writing this).  He starts with a compliment.  They are zealous for God.

That isn’t a good thing.  That is a great thing.  Paul himself is zealous for God.  He is writing this letter because of His zeal.  He is particularly writing these chapters of this letter because of his passionate desire for more Jews to receive the gift of faith.

But he also has a shared background of his zeal for God before he met Jesus.  Paul has a very passionate and specific perspective on the plight of the Jews.

The illustration I think of is someone free floating in space.  No booster packs, not rockets, no ropes.  Just, plop, there you are in space, with nothingness around you.  Paul is saying these Jews see the light and they are absolutely zealous.  They are flapping their arms and legs and screaming and shouting and bending and stretching and everything else you can physically imagine.  And, they are going nowhere.  All of that motion, alone is space, produces nothing.

But, if we tether ourselves to Christ, in faith in Him, then everything changes.  We are not alone.  We are connected.  We join his ship of righteousness and, all of a sudden, we are going places not just flailing about.

The answer to your problems and challenges, your hurt and pain, your shame and your fears, will not be found in more zeal.  Everything you do, every self-help, every good intention, is nothing more than flapping your arms and hands about unless and until you are tethered to something solid that is on the right path.  There is only one thing in the universe that is offering you a life line and His name is Jesus.

My Answers:

He is a Jew, a Jew’s Jew. His parents and relatives are all Jews. Most of his friends are Jews. Plus he has a heart that is being shaped to be like Jesus and Jesus loves God’s chosen people.
Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit intercede for us – I am called to do the same for family, friends, neighbors and even those I don’t know.

They didn’t know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness

The law was a foreshadowing of what Christ would provide as the ultimate sacrifice. It was a direction not a destination. Jesus is the destination. We cannot earn our righteousness because the fact that we don’t have it is an admission that we are broken and we cannot be unbroken on our own.

17.2 Romans – Device not Destination

We pick up our study this week in the last 3 verses Romans 9 where Paul, with a broken heart of love for his people, laments where they went wrong in the past.  That the Gentiles, who sat on the sidelines and did not make any attempt to keep the law, to offer sacrifices, to participate in purification, to devote themselves to God, that they have now obtained God’s righteousness by faith while the Jews have not obtained their goal, is part of Paul’s heartbreak.  Not against the gentiles, but because the Israelites got lost along the way.

But he doesn’t approach this in a “that is unfair or unjust” manner, instead, he is simply pointing out where things went wrong so that it can be fixed.  Not to lay blame or pass judgment but to point the direction to change so that his kinsmen can be saved.

The Jews had mistaken the device for the destination.  Said another way, they cared more about the car where the car could take them.  They polished the car.  They washed it.  They kept it enshrined and protected.  They were meticulous in every detail, ensuring they were perfectly clean each time they approached it.  They kept it in the synagogue and didn’t let outsides come near, like a private museum.  It was their law and it was priceless, on loan to them by Moses by God.

But the law was not meant to be an idol or an exhibit in the museum.  It wasn’t something that was to be made into images and replicas to be worn around as a badge or souvenir.  It wasn’t something to be visited periodically on required days.

Jesus, on the other hand, born a Jew, the Son of God, took a different approach.  He paid the price to buy the car off the museum showroom and drive it.  His death, as a man, paid the price for mankind to own something that before they could only look at and admire, Righteousness.

But Christ did not buy it to have it sit in a museum.  When he paid the price, the curtain to the museum was torn.  He bought righteousness for mankind so that we could go.  It is the one and only vehicle out of this life and into an eternal life with God and Jesus invites all of God’s elect to climb aboard.

But, as Paul points out, this really messed up some of the Jews.  Who is He to get in the driver’s seat?  What is this idea of driving the car? He thinks I’m just going along for a ride, doesn’t He know how much  I have worked?

The Jews never understood the meaning of God with us.  They looked for a conquering God to come with them to defeat and rule with them, all on the same team.  They didn’t not expect a God who would conquer form them and then invite them to join in the victory lap.  God needed their help.  They had done all of this for God and it is only just and fair that they be recognized and rewarded.  They did not want to be with God, they wanted God to be with them.

And many of us, Jews and Gentiles have been there, too.  We want God to have our back.  We want God to bless and recognize our efforts and give us due recognition.  We want to go search out and find God, because, obviously, He is missing from this world, just look around.

But faith in Jesus is the stumbling block we fall over time and again as we head down that path.  We can’t find God, He was never lost, we were.  And as we traipse off searching for God, we trip over Jesus because He is already right where we are.  The nice thing about stumbling, though, is that it takes you to your knees.  That may be the funny part in God’s plan, because that is the right position for our journey to begin.

My Answers:

The Israelites chased after it through works. The Gentiles received it through faith.

Pursuing righteous behavior is an act to honor God and to shine His light into the world. If we live like everyone else, what message do we send? But trying to “earn” salvation through works is to indicate that Christ’s work was insufficient and needs to be added to. The first is a response to faith, the second is an indication of the lack of faith in Christ

Jesus. That He is sufficient.