In Romans 9.30-10.4, we see how the apostle Paul explained to the mostly Gentile church in Rome in the first century how the people of Israel had missed the point of their pursuit of God. It’s as if they were running a race (following the Law of the Old Testament) but had missed the finish line by going around it (missing out on the fulfillment of the Law in Jesus). And sometimes, church people who call themselves Christians do the same thing. What does that look like? We’ll learn in this message how that can happen, and how we can avoid it. The entire worship gathering is below, and just the message below that.
In Romans 7.1 (NLT), the apostle Paul wrote something that might seem very strange on an initial, out-of-context reading: “…don’t you know that the law applies only while a person is living?”
Seems fairly obvious, doesn’t it? I mean, I’m not going to care whether a traffic light is green, amber or red when my funeral procession is winding its way to the cemetery. But all the drivers in that procession should care, because they don’t want to risk injury. The law only applies while a person is living.
But Paul goes on to say that everybody who has faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord has died to the law: they no longer live under its reign.
That changes the picture a bit, right? So Paul is telling us that if we have died with Christ through our faith in him, we have died to sin (see Romans 6), and therefore have also died to the tyranny of the law.
Does that mean we should ignore the law of the land? Well, if we all did that, the number of traffic fatalities would skyrocket (among other things).
Does that means we should ignore the law of God? There’s the rub: when we become followers of Jesus, the Old Testament doesn’t fade away, and the Ten Commandments don’t cease to be applicable to our lives. So what does it mean that we have died to the law?
Just as Paul said in chapter 6 that sin will not be our master, so it is true that the law shall not be our master. Our goal is not perfectly to keep the law; our goal is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us.
How do we glorify God? Well, Jesus tells us in John 14.15 (NLT), “If you love me, obey my commandments.” Since we live under grace and not under law, we have come into relationship with Jesus by his favour alone, and in that relationship, we demonstrate our love by following what he tells us to do. So while we are dead to sin and the law, we are alive to God in Jesus, and in that relationship, we follow the law without fear of being judged for our imperfect ability to keep the law. We are respectful of the law, but not enslaved to it.
There are some great ways to apply this, and I’ll be talking about that this Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton. You (and your face mask) are very welcome to join us at 10:00 a.m., or catch the service from the comfort of your home live, or on demand later. The application may cause you to squirm a little!
Today’s Encouragement is a guest post from my friend, Adelle Lauchlan, who serves on staff at Uxbridge Baptist Church. Enjoy! – Jeff+
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3a, NLT).
I don’t think it is a stretch to say that most people want to be useful, want to live a productive life, and that Christians want to live a life worthy of Christ’s call. So I find these words of Paul’s very reassuring.
But what are these things that we have been given that allow us to live a godly life?
Well, I think this is what they are:
- We have the love of Christ, a love so great that he willingly died that we would be saved – it is a love that drew us to him, and it remains with us always.
- We have the power of the Holy Spirit – we received it, as promised, when we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
- We have the gifts of the Spirit – those attributes that we share with other believers and which mark us as Christians.
- We have the Word of God – left to us so that we would know his will for us.
- We have the model of Christ and how he lived so that we would know how to live out God’s will.
- We have the company of each other to encourage us in our walk and to help us when we stray.
And we have all these things because God is glory and excellence, and in his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. We live under the new covenant, sealed on the cross. Grace, God’s love and forgiveness, freely given.
Truly, everything we need! A precious promise!
And what are we asked to do in return? Respond in faith. Respond with faith. Faith is the foundation of this great promise. It is everything we need!
Along with the somewhat more common spiritual practice called lectio divina, or holy reading, whereby we read a passage of Scripture a few times in order to hear from the Lord, there is also a less common spiritual practice called visio divina, or holy watching. In this practice, we spend a protracted time gazing upon an image, likewise in order to hear from the Lord.
When we look upon an image, we may see something that prompts a memory, something that might encourage us to have a conversation with God. The idea is certainly not to use the image as an object of worship, but to allow God to use it to speak into our lives in some way that will build our relationship with him.
Today, I’m encouraging you to spend a few minutes – as long as it takes – looking at this image. Ask yourself these questions:
What stands out to me the most?
Is there a colour that quickens me in some way?
What emotions am I feeling as I look at this?
Then, pause, and offer your answers to these questions to the Lord. Perhaps he wants to speak to you. Even if you get no clear message, spend some time praising him, inspired by the image.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him” (Psalm 24.1, NLT).
At our pot luck on Sunday afternoon, many in the congregation gathered to celebrate Taylor and Jacob’s upcoming nuptials with gifts, and to rejoice with Doug Christie on his baptism. Here’s a video of the baptism:
The last part of Paul’s final letter, 2 Timothy, might be of the sort where you might say, with Brother Maynard in this Monty Python clip, “Skip a little, brother.” But as we find out in this message, it’s worth paying attention to for the life of the church!
Have a listen to this message based on 2 Timothy 4.9-22.
Unfortunately, the Facebook Live feed chose not to work today. 😦
In this new series on 1 Timothy, we are going to learn how the advice of the apostle Paul affected Timothy, whom he mentored, and how it can help us walk with the Lord in our time.
We are grateful that God is merciful, and gracious. Do we accept these? That’s Paul’s advice to Timothy, and to us. Based on 1 Timothy 1, you can listen to the message here: