"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).




The Bible is a revelation given by God of Himself, a theology.  Since worship is the most definitive feature of every human life, it is critical that we receive this revelation and honour God accordingly.  Otherwise, we are worshipping another god. That is idolatry.




The very first theological truth revealed (in the opening chapters of Genesis) is that God is the Creator of all things.  This is foundational to all the Bible teaches concerning man's relationship to God.  However, because men tend to believe what they wish were true rather than what is, there has been widespread acceptance of the theory of origins known as evolution.
Romans 1:20 exposes the intellectual dishonesty of embracing a belief which denies a Maker while living in the midst of "the things which are made".  Man's very constitution as a rational creature means he understands and sees clearly something of the wisdom and power of the one who made the universe.  The previous verse tells us that "God hath showed it unto them".
In fact, pure secular evolutionary dogma is so unsatisfying to the human perception that it is gradually morphing into a religious variant that makes god everything and everything god - kind of self creating.  The astute observer will immediately recognize this as nothing but pantheism.  So evolutionary doctrine has served to deny the God of the Bible, and now opens the door for the reemerging of the ancient Pagan concept of god(s) into Western thought.
Today, under the name of New Age teaching, even professing Christianity is being moved away from the theology and God of the Bible.  This concept makes everyone god, or part of god.  It distorts the truth historically recognized by Christians that there is a fundamental difference between Creator and creature.  It distorts the large body of Bible teaching to do with our accountability to God, and questions the seriousness of sinning against His holy laws.
Saddest of all, for those deceived by it, denial of God's place as Creator also denies the need of salvation through His Son by His sacrifice on the cross.  The Christianity of the Bible cannot be mixed with atheistic teachings without eternal loss.
 
 
"But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things" (Romans 2:2).




Romans teaches us the theological fact that God is a God of truth.  This is seen here in His judgment.  The courts and tribunals of this world are often heavily influenced by the knowledge of who the accused is.  Lady Justice frequently lifts the blindfold and peeks before rendering a decision.  However, God is concerned only with the truth.  "For there is no respect of persons with God" (Romans 2:11).



God is absolutely true in everything He says.  He has commanded us not to lie because that is His own standard.  Because He is God, He simply cannot lie.  "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2).  This means that His written word is also completely trustworthy.  It is truth itself.  "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17).
There is a great contest for the minds and confidence of the men of this world.  The world is full of lies about everything moral, spiritual, and eternal.  Yet the Bible speaks with absolute veracity and trustworthiness on those same things.  Jesus told people in chapter eight of John that Satan is the father of lies, and the hearts of men incline to those ways naturally.  People don't disbelieve the Bible because it is untrue, but because it is true.  "And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not" (John 8:45).
The truth sometimes hurts.  The Bible offers a way of salvation that can only be received as part of a message of truth.  Jesus Christ, God's Only Begotten Son, paid for our sins by dying a horrible death.  Because the punishment fits the crime, the Gospel story not only tells of a free salvation, it tells of a great guilt of sin on our part.
You can't trust Christ for forgiveness of sin without coming face to face with truth.  Jesus is the way of salvation and is Truth itself.  "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).  Churches and pulpits need to stop looking for crowd pleasing messages to achieve success and return to teaching and preaching Bible truth for the good of their hearers.
 
 
"Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?" (Romans 3:5b-6).




Paul is here defending his teaching about mankind's sinfulness and guilt before God.  He has adopted the role of a prosecuting attorney to prove that everyone has broken God's law and is in need of forgiveness.  Knowing human nature, he has anticipated objections and now is going on to prove that the particular objection in view is invalid.




In effect, his point here is that judgement of the world by God is a basic axiom, a first principle of theology.  Therefore any idea or argument that would deny Him the right to judge men can simply be rejected out of hand.  We may not dismantle God by taking away the fundamental attributes that make God to be God.  God will judge the world.  Period
But it is common to this day for people to live by philosophies and standards that rest upon the very notion that they will never face God's judgement.  But God will not cease to be God or to exercise His divine prerogatives.  It is the sinner that must change to escape a disaster that is beyond words to express, falling under the wrath of Almighty God at Judgement Day.
God is scrutinizing the lives and hearts of you and me right now.  "The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men" (Psalm 11:4).  That's watching and measuring us pretty carefully.  The consequence is sober indeed.  "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest" (Psalm 11:6a).
But none of this is revealed to us to bring us to despair.  It is far better to know our danger now, so we can do something about it.  The next thing for us after death is the judgement.  It is better to deal with the problem now while we may than to think of it with terrible regrets for ever in hell.  No matter how busy we are or how frightening the topic seems to us.
When Jesus Christ, God's Son died on the cross, He already suffered the penalty for our sins.  Now risen from the dead, He invites us to turn from our sins and receive Him personally as Lord and Saviour.
 
 
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" (Romans 5:5a)




Certain Bible characters stand out as exhibiting the graces and qualities commended in Scripture.  We read of the "wisdom of Solomon" (Matthew 12:42), the "patience of Job" (James 5:11), and the "faith of Abraham" (Romans 4:16).




However the gold standard and original source of love is the "love of God".  The love of family, or friends, or a sweetheart are the greatest treasures we have in this world.  But to know the love of God shed abroad in our hearts is as the days of heaven upon the earth.  The good things of life do give a certain happiness to our outer life, but the knowledge in my heart that God loves me fills the human soul to capacity and overflowing. 




Romans chapter 5 goes on to expound this love of God.  We learn that His infinite love was made known in the same thing that showed His hatred of sin, the cross of Jesus Christ.  It is only here that we will find that love.  We learn first that His hatred of sin does not stop Him from loving sinners.  God knows we do not have the life and strength required to meet His perfect standards.  "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).
The human habit is to love (and sacrifice for, maybe) those we think are deserving.  "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die" (Romans 5:7).
But God opens His heart of love to man in the story of His Good News to sinners.  It is love without a reason, love that is undeserved and unearned.  "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).  This love commended in the pages of Scripture becomes the knowledge of the heart personally only for those who turn from sin and believe in Him.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39).
 
 
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).




The basic message of the Bible is beyond dispute.  Consider how these fundamental truths are clearly taught in this passage.




1.  The Christian message offers everlasting life.  This is the repeated message of the Bible.  "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
2.  If language means anything, everlasting life must mean a life that can never end.  "Everlasting" life occurs by way of contrast with our present life, which will come to an end by death.  "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish" (John 10:28a).
3.  "Hath" means believers have eternal life - now - present tense.  Man-made religion offers a life pursuing half-promises like a carrot on a stick.  Jesus says he offers salvation now.  "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2c)
4.  The receiving of this represents a fundamental change in condition before God - passing "from death unto life".  Evidently, this life is not only different in duration, but in kind.  Sin has made man dead spiritually, even before physical death occurs, but Jesus offers to make you made alive unto God.
5.  This life is also a sphere of existence outside of the judgment of God ("shall not come into condemnation").  So it brings pardon for the sins of the past and ultimately of all sins.
6.  This life is attained by faith alone.  It is promised without further conditions to those that hear and believe.  "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).
7.  Faith here is not just an undefined spiritual mystery.  It is belief of the revealed Word of God.  It matters what you believe.  The saving message is about the plan of God to bring salvation through His Son.  This is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News that God has sent His Son to die for our sins, and rise from the dead.  It is if we repent and believe that good news, that we then have everlasting life.
 
 
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death" (Revelation. 20:14).
The best minds in the world crack their brains trying unsuccessfully to understand death.  The Bible has the explanation.  Death came into the world with sin.  "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men..." (Romans 5:12).  That one man who first sinned and brought death to earth was Adam.  God had warned him that if he disobeyed his Creator he would "surely die" (Genesis 2:17).  Adam sinned, and God's Word was fulfilled.  All of us that have come after were born into that sinning, dying race of Adam.
The world is busily trying to deny that there is any such thing as sin, but death shows its hideous face on every hand, and stalks every one of us.  Refusing to recognize the reality of sin is madness.  We have come to a  place where we can rewrite the dictionaries and omit many words of long standing in the English language.  Sin, perversion, immorality, depravity, judgement, and a long list of others are no longer regarded as having meaning.  But one witness refuses to be silent as to man's spiritual problem, death.
As we study Scripture, we learn that the death that God warned Adam of is far-reaching.  Physical death with all its sadness is familiar to most of us.  But Revelation. 20:14 tells of the final phase of sin's condemnation - death in its full significance - the second death.  Revelation 20 is about the great judgement day when those who die without Jesus Christ stand before God for final sentencing.  It tells clearly of people being cast into a fiery lake to spend eternity.  This is sober beyond words.
The Bible also tells us that one man's death was different than the rest.  Jesus Christ had never committed a single sin.  And He was more than a man.  He was God incarnate.  These  two facts should make any enquiring mind meditate deeply on the significance of His cross.  It all makes sense when we realize that He died on the cross for OUR sins.  All who turn from their sin and receive the Resurrected Saviour by personal faith are promised that heaven awaits them when they die.  What a way to go.

 
 
"Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love" (II John 1:3).
Two elements are absolutely essential to genuine Christianity, truth and love.  The Bible includes these both in fundamental statements about who God is.  We read in I John 4:8 that, God is love.  In John's Gospel the Lord declared that He is the truth.  It is only a problem of human limitation and failure that we think that we can dispense with one or the other or that the two are impossible to reconcile.
With Valentine's Day fresh in our memory, we should be ready to appreciate the love of God that made Him willing to pay the price for our salvation.  The broken law of God required the death penalty be paid.  What a price to pay so that the sinner could have eternal life.  Nevertheless, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16a).  The Saviour came down  to this earth knowing He would have to die and bear the sins of the world to make a way of eternal life.  What love can compare to that?  No wonder we read, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10).  (The word "propitiation" refers to the satisfaction of the just requirements of God's law by Christ's sacrifice for sin.)  We can love in gratefulness for this gift, but here is love in a class and measure all by itself, God's love through Jesus Christ.
God's truth is something that many are less disposed to consider.  The thought seems to be, "Can't God just shower His love on me without searching out my heart and actions with truth?"  But while love paid the price for our salvation, truth prepares the heart to receive the Saviour personally.  It cannot be that we can recreate God to be one of love but no longer the God of truth.  It cannot be that we can receive God's saving love but refuse God's truth.  The Bible tells us that it is the truth that sets us free.  The door to heaven  was paid for by love, but the invitation to pass through is an offer of the truth.
 

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12/14/2011

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"Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars" (Proverbs 9:1)




Solomon speaks of what the wisdom of God has to offer, in terms we can all relate to, a home.  Though we may take it for granted and think very little about it, the home is one of the essentials of human life.  It is our place of security, society, and rest and especially love.  A man's home is his castle.  It is where we live.But our earthly homes can only meet a temporary need.  They have to do with this life, and its needs.  The human heart has deeper longings and craves eternity.  Here, our children grow up and move away; the house structures themselves decay and grow old; and so do we.  But the wisdom of God has made provision for a house built for eternity.  The seven pillars hewn out by the wisdom of God speak to us of the perfect eternal support provided by God's salvation.
Jesus promised to prepare this place in John 14:1-2.  "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Abraham was able to leave his father's house in answer to God's call and live in tents ("tabernacles") in a strange land because he believed God had a greater and eternal dwelling place for him.  "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:9-10).
As you enjoy the blessings of home this Christmas season, remember its happiness is a proverb, a faint picture of the lasting joys of God's house awaiting those who become His children by faith in Jesus Christ and His death for us on the cross.  We are also enabled to patiently endure the shortcomings of our earthly homes if we are able to reflect on the privilege of being of the household of God, with a home awaiting us of security, rest, and love that will go on forever.

 
 
"Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:  So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man" (Proverbs 6:10-11).




Solomon gives this piece of wisdom to one who has foolishly entered into a ruinous financial obligation.  "My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth" (Vs. 1-2).  It was the case of one who had committed himself to be responsible for the debts of an acquaintance - debts that could outstrip his resources and ruin him.




Solomon advises urgency in seeking release from his friend for these obligations.  "Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend" (Vs.3).  He was taken in a snare;  this was no time for a lazy, ho-hum attitude.   "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise" (Vs. 6).
We live in a world on the brink of ruin because of debt, both personal and national.  Yet the counter-intuitive and counter-Biblical thinking of Keynesian type economics continues with the ludicrous advice to spend your way out of debt.  World conditions prove it won't work, but political correctness and political intrigue insure its continuance.
According to Solomon, an unconcerned sleepy attitude toward the problem of such crippling debt is sure to bring poverty.  A 19th century Christian writer once suggested that Solomon is saying that poverty comes "step by step" (as one that travelleth) and "with irresistible violence" (as an armed man).  The downward spiral of increasing debt is a course of gradual erosion of one's substance and concludes by a crash that it is too late to resist.
The greater message of Proverbs concerns spiritual debt from sin not dealt with - and the danger of the coming crash of God's judgment.  There is a way to get release from that debt.  Jesus Christ paid the price required for our forgiveness when He shed His blood on the cross.  Knowing this, but living in apathy and spiritual laziness, is the gradual erosion of opportunity until it is too late.  "How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep" (Vs. 9).
 
 
"But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died" (I Samuel 25:37-38).  There is a certain order here, first a hardened heart and then judgement with no recourse.




The human heart was created first for man's relationship to God.  But sin corrupted the heart and man stopped loving God to live in disobedience.  And yet it is the heart that God appeals to in His invitation for us to come back to Him through the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  It is the story of God's love to us through the sacrifice of His Son that, when considered, has power to turn the heart to God.
The greatest danger for any human being is that the heart, already sinful, become hardened - unmoved by the love and grace of God.  God can forgive and wash away any sin by the power of the shed blood of His Son.  God can turn the worst sinner who simply trusts Him into His own dear child by His miraculous saving power.  But what can be done when His Word and His love is repeatedly, wilfully refused?
The human heart can become like a stone, unwilling and unable to free itself from sin despite the sober warnings of an eternity in the fiery lake for those who die without Christ.  Sin has terrible addictive power.  "I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle" (Jeremiah 8:6).
It is a serious thing to say no to God's love in Christ.  It is a serious thing just to put Him off.  The Bible says that out of the heart are the issues of life.  A bad heart closes the door to what every sinner needs most, the mercy of God.  The gracious offer of eternal life from God always impacts the heart.  Receiving it gives a new heart, and refusing or ignoring it makes the heart harder.