"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Eight: Part Two

Chapter Eight: Not Living in the ‘Condo’s’ Anymore!

~~ By James Fire

We’ve all driven by old buildings with signs out in front that read “Building – Condemned: Do Not Enter”. It’s understood that that building is no longer sound or suitable for habitation and is scheduled to one day soon be demolished, and swept away in order to make the property it sits on more useful for a new building.

Once Adam fell into sin, and the curse of sin was proclaimed, he along with Eve and all of their progeny were condemned with all of creation that they were given stewardship over. Creation and God’s finest achievement: man himself, were no longer sound or suitable for His purposes and habitation. On a day scheduled in the Mind of God, everything would be demolished and swept away in order to make room for God’s new creation, but there was still hope that man would be an integral part of this!
Humanity from the very beginning continues in such a fallen state of depravity; such sinful souls are repelled and offended at the holy Light that is God, preferring instead the darkness of their own depravity, secured by satanic bondage:

John 3:18-20
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil
.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.


Earth has become ‘Planet Perditious’ and its inhabitants are the infantry of iniquity under the command of “the god of this world” (1 Cor. 4:4) who wars against the righteous saints of the LORD. Because of this persecution, we are made to suffer; not only from this, but by enduring life in this fallen creation full of violence, misery, sickness, oppression, injustice and everything that’s associated with death and destruction we likewise suffer and long (even groan) to be released from such and enter into God’s presence where His glory will be revealed in us (Rom. 8: 18, 22) and such sinful darkness is no more.

There is a glorious day coming for the saints where we will know deliverance from our bodies of corruption, sin and death as well as from this corrupted creation suffering from sin’s curse and enter into a new creation (which we will witness first hand at it’s making!) where only righteousness dwells! All of this starts for us when our LORD Jesus, our BLESSED HOPE appears, takes His church away from Planet Perditious and brings us home!

This is where we pick up in our study of the book of Romans, in Chapter Eight and beginning with verse 17.

Rom 8:17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together
.

The beautification of God’s glory upon His greatest creation was something He had intended all along, since the Garden of Eden; but when Adam fell, such intentions were ‘altered’ (not that God need alter His plans from His own perspective, seeing that He is eternal and His foreknowledge is all-encompassing). Yet even in this alteration the glory of God would be all the greater, for in Christ Jesus, we who are His saints have gained far more than Adam ever lost! Adam was given stewardship over the Earth, but the saints of the church will reign in heaven! Adam was granted the blessings of God’s creation as it was then, but the saints are joint-heirs with Christ (Who inherits ALL things!!)!

So we see the progression as the Apostle Paul lays out for us in this epistle: he begins by showing that every one is unrighteous, then how we can obtain righteousness via justification, through Christ Jesus and committing our faith upon Him; from there he addresses the idea of sanctification and holiness in a practical sense. In chapter Eight here he reveals how God intends to bring glorification to His saints!

Rom 8:18-20
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope
,


Understanding that we are not citizens of this world, but rather of the kingdom of God; we are foreigners here, pilgrims and ambassadors – we are representatives of the ‘culture of Christ Jesus’ which is based on holiness procured by His death and resurrection and the subsequent inhabitation of the Holy Spirit within us.
This understanding should diminish any mystery as to why the world hates us: this world, subverted and subjected by the spirit of rebellion that is Satan, rejects anything of God, including His children. It’s inevitable as we shine the holy Light of God from our lives that we will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) as well as suffer in even our presence in this fallen world of sin. See also: Acts 5:41; Romans 8:36; 2 Cor. 1:7; 11: 23; Phil. 3:10; 2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 11:25; James 5:10; 1 Pet. 2:20; 5:10.

However, Paul brings us cause for rejoicing: such sufferings “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”!!

This “manifestation of the sons of God” speaks of that time when the LORD returns at His Second Coming to take His bride (the faithful church) away with Him to heaven (an event that could happen at any moment, even perhaps before you have the chance to finish reading this article!). Once “the time of Jacob’s Trouble” is completed (Jeremiah 30: 7; Dan. 9:24-27; a time of seven years total) the LORD will return visibly to the world (the official inauguration of His Second Coming) with His church beside Him, manifested as the saints who are complete in Christ – this will bring about a time of the Messiah’s reign as the rightful King of Israel and the world will enjoy peace under the benevolent rule of the Prince of Peace!

Once that reign of 1,000 years is completed, the old Earth and the old Heavens will be done away with (Isaiah 65: 17 – 18; 66: 22; 2 Pet. 3: 10 – 13; Rev. 21: 1) to be replaced by a new Earth and Heavens – an astounding event that we shall witness with our very own glorified eyes and praise God for with our glorified voices!

Until that time, we remain here, ambassadors for Christ, heralding the Gospel before the lost whose hearts are “subject to vanity” that is ‘emptiness’.
It’s been said that at the very center of our being there is “a God-shaped hole” that only God Himself can fill. We may try to find satisfaction and fulfillment in the things of this world and pursue all the usual things that we suppose will bring us happiness – and for a time, they may – but eventually it just ‘gets old’ and we are left with emptiness: “vanity”.
Such subjection to this vanity is not without hope however, because the LORD uses that emptiness along with the longing to have it filled to cause people to pursue fulfillment. Coupled with the Holy Spirit, whose mission is to lead people to JESUS, THERE IS HOPE while the seeker yet lives. I’ve often used this acronym to describe this condition and its only answer for fulfillment (I’ve even done a couple articles FROM the MIND of FIRE about this): O.A.S.I.S. or Only the Almighty Savior Immanuel Satisfies (type “OASIS” in the FMF search engine ‘Scoping out this Mind’ to read those articles).

From the commentaries of Pastor John Gill (He preached in the same church as C. H. Spurgeon over one hundred years earlier):

“For the creature was made subject to vanity…”

"This designs the vanity and emptiness of the minds of the Gentiles, who were without God and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, without the law and Gospel, and grace of God; also the vain conceits they had of themselves, of their wisdom, knowledge, learning, and eloquence; likewise their vain philosophy, particularly their gross idolatry, their polytheism, or worshipping of many gods; together with their divers lusts and vices, to which they were addicted, to such a degree, that they might be truly said to be made subject thereunto, being under the government of these things, slaves unto them, and in such subjection, as that they could not deliver themselves from it; though it is said,
“…not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in
hope.”
Though they were willingly vain, yet they were not willingly made subject to vanity; they willingly went into idolatrous and other evil practices, but the devil made them subject, or slaves unto them; he led them captive at his will, and powerfully worked in them, by divine permission, so that they became vassals to him, and to their lusts; for he seems to be designed, "by him who hath subjected the same", and not Adam, by whom sin entered into the world."

Rom 8:21-23
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body
.


Deliverance: this is what is needed for us wretched souls – deliverance from the judgment of God, deliverance from bondage to sin, deliverance from slavery and ownership of Satan, deliverance from this present age of rebellion and iniquity, deliverance from this fallen world and to the glory of heaven! All of this is procured through the LORD Jesus Christ; the only thing required is faith in Him, and His Word (and He is as good as His Word!). There is NOTHING that can deliver us “from the bondage of corruption” except JESUS! Not psychology, or philosophy, not our own (dead) works in some vain attempt to prove ourselves worthy or noble in our own right . . . nothing, nothing but the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins as the old song goes.

As we examine history and look at what at first appeared to be some of mankind’s greater, nobler and seemingly good establishments (take the founding of America for example, the Constitution and the liberty it purports to provide; or other cultures that had built similar examples of justice and peace) – eventually, whether in decades or centuries, such noble dreams deteriorated, fell into dilapidation, and were eventually thoroughly corrupted as liberty was abrogated by oppression.

As brutal and harsh and corrupt as the Roman Empire had become, one must remember that it was founded as a republic – a government that would rule by just law. It was a vision of freedom and true liberty, but such things are tenuous and fragile because of the sinful nature of man, and the spirit that rules this world (Satan) that would always seek to pervert and subjugate the souls of humanity under oppressive rule.

Frank Herbert, author of the Dune series took the old expression of “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” and turned it around by saying, “The corrupt are drawn to power.”

Conversely it’s also been said that “Great men do not seek power, great men have power thrust upon them.” Great men are humble men and are not interested in ruling over others, but because virtue and integrity are noted in such men, others recognize the need for them to assume power, for they will respect and not abuse such power.

In the film Gladiator, Marcus Aurelius had this to say about “the dream that was Rome” . . . “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish... it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter.” And we all know how Rome became utterly corrupted, don’t we? Anyone see some parallels regarding our own (once) beloved America?

The only man who was and is, and ever shall be incorruptible is Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, God’s only begotten Son Who wields all power and authority (Matt. 28:18) – that’s absolute power! Yet He is absolutely incorruptible and therefore truly the only one, bar none who can rightly rule with perfect justice and righteousness.

We who shall be delivered from this corruption and into the glorious liberty that awaits us will likewise be suited for rule; to the degree that we are Christ-like, by that same measure we are able to rule with integrity and righteousness. With six thousand years of historical evidence, this generally cannot be said of rulers of humanity, particularly in the 20th and now the 21st centuries!

This present creation including the animal kingdom, as well as the Earth itself are suffering from the ravages of sin; we who are members of the kingdom of God are likewise suffering and longing for “the adoption” or “redemption of our (carnal and sinful) bodies or as the Bible makes reference to, our “flesh”. Note in verse 23 it states that we “ourselves . . . have the firstfruits of the Spirit . . .” which intimates of course that having the first fruits, we shall enjoy the full harvest later, and so we shall!

1 John 3:2
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is
.
See also Phil. 3:21; Col. 3:4; 1 Pet. 5:1; and 1 Cor. 15: 44, 49.

2 Cor 5:1-5
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit
.


Here Paul refers to “the earnest (or pledge or ‘down payment’) of the Spirit, which relates directly to “the firstfruits of the Spirit” as mentioned here in Romans. The very idea that one day, when the LORD returns and takes us home, not only will we have glorified bodies that will never know the corruption of sin, but that the simple thought of ‘sin’ will never even occur to us – as though the very word and concept of sin will be wiped away from our vocabulary – and it will be! That in itself will be a kind of ‘heaven’ to rejoice in, amen?


Rom 8:24-25
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it
.

There is a word mentioned here repeatedly that is most significant: hope. Something that is a rare commodity these days; we wonder if there is any hope for America, any hope for our way of life surviving, and in the face of nuclear weapons, and others that are even more terrifying . . . we wonder if there is any hope for this world!

Answer: YES! But it’s not found in any human agency or power or authority. It’s found solely in the Man from Galilee! Our very salvation is “by hope” – and faith – in the LORD Jesus Christ. The Greek word employed here is elpis (noun form) or elpizo (verb) and its definition is quite pertinent:

“To expect, trust, hope, things hoped for; to set one’s hope upon (See 1 Tim. 4:10; 5:5; 6:17; Matt. 12:21; Luke 24:21; Rom. 15: 12, 24 (“trust” in the preceding passage is actually elpizo in the Greek).). It means to anticipate with pleasure, expectation, confidence, a forward looking to the future (as in Titus 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:21); the ground upon such hope is based (Acts 16:19; Col. 1:27 – “Christ in you, the hope of glory”). We have the hope of the resurrection (Acts 23:6), the hope of the promise (Gal. 5:5), the hope of righteousness (that is, complete conformity to the image of Christ in God’s will, at the coming of Christ; Col. 1:23), the hope of the Gospel (Col. 1:5), the hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:2), the blessed hope (Titus 2:13)) and more besides!

This ‘hope unseen’ is the closest thing that the world can come to in their attempt to describe the faith of the believer, which they claim is a ‘blind faith’. Not so; our faith is not only in the invisible God Whom we have not seen, but also in His Word and how we see its veracity proved out in this world and in our lives. In the world, we understand that the Bible holds up its integrity even under the heaviest scrutiny and is accurate historically, geographically, in archeology and even in science, but most notably in the realm of the prophetic and how God’s foresight regarding our future is absolutely 20/20 in accuracy.

In our very lives we understand that the Word of God is true because as we bow to the truth of the Scriptures and obey them by believing the Gospel, our hearts are transformed, just as the Bible explains it.

Yet there is that aspect of hope that is “not seen” because our future redemption (of our corrupt bodies as well as our fallen world; vs. 20 - 23) is something not observable at this time. Yet this hope doesn’t ‘hang on nothing’ because everything we have experienced as Christians has verified that the Scriptures are indeed the Word of God, and entirely trustworthy; prophecy has been fulfilled up to this point, and it shall continue to be fulfilled because of the sovereignty and foreknowledge of God Almighty.

In plain language, God’s ‘track record’ over the course of these approximately 6,000 years is impeccable, and so we can rightly place our hope in this up and coming redemption of our bodies and creation!

Rom 8:26-27
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God
.


Here we have some more groaning, but in this instance, it’s actually the Holy Spirit within us, moving with intercession on our behalf because there are times of deep anguish and pain that we are beyond words. Strangely enough, God is adept at translating the language of ‘groaning’ even if we can’t and not only considers this prayer but is entirely intent on answering such!

Just think about this: God, the Holy Spirit, absolutely perfect and all knowing, is interceding for us, the children of God! Not only that but even the LORD Jesus Christ, the God-man is likewise interceding for us (vs. 34)!! With such ‘prayer partners’ like these, how can we possibly rob ourselves of peace and contentment (though I often can!), being assured that the LORD will faithfully lead and direct us “according to the will of God”, every step we take, knowing each step long before we take it!

And now we look to another beloved verse, one that is practically as well known as John 3:16 –

Rom 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose
.




It must be noted that some Christians quote this wrong, leaving out the entire verse after “together for good” – God doesn’t work all things together for good in some abstract sense and for people in general but for “them that love God” and “them who are the called” (emphasis mine).


If it wasn’t God we were talking about here, I would find this verse quite baffling; most of us could work some things together for the good of others; some of us that are more resourceful and clever might be able to work more things for the good of those we love, but ALL things?! Yet God in His infinite wisdom, knowledge, power and love is quite able to do so, even if we ourselves can’t understand or perceive how any particular ‘working’ incorporates “all things . . . for good”.

For those of us that love God, we can rest on this precious promise; for those of us who are “THE called”, a very denotative phrase, referring no doubt to those who are saints, saved by the blood of the Lamb (see Rom. 1:6-7; 1 Cor. 1: 2, 9; 2 Thess. 2:14 and elsewhere). And what is this calling as saints of God? It’s His own purpose, granted to us through Christ long before the world ever began . . . not some ‘Johnny-come-lately contrivance of a popular pastor who feels that the saints need to be “driven” in some purpose that the church can come together and agree on (side note: sheep are led; goats are driven . . . interesting!). The word “purpose” appears thirty six times in the KJV of the Bible; of particular note are these:

Romans 9:11, 17; Eph. 1:11; 3:11; 2 Tim. 1:9; 3:10; 1 Jhn. 3:8.

2 Tim 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began
,


So much for those books by Rick Warren! He would have us, by our own works, establish the kingdom of God – wrong! The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that God establishes in the hearts of believers who have placed their faith in JESUS! It cannot possibly be established by any works of our own!

The kingdom of heaven will arrive once the Messiah, the King of Israel (the nation around which the kingdom of (“from”) heaven will revolve) arrives, and not a moment sooner! Such Emergent/heretical authors as Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and others would turn the church of Jesus Christ, which He has purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28) into a social workers agency that would focus on the physical needs of this world and somehow present this agenda as “the gospel” which is not “another gospel” at all, but a satanic imitation (and a poor one, I might add!) –

Gal 1:6-7
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ
.
(See also 2 Cor. 11:4)


Getting back to God’s own purposes in our lives; as He works all things to the good for those of us who love Him and are the called, we may have our faith challenged in accepting all things, even tragedies, as those instruments by which God is working “for good”.

Some of these things, we may never have an answer for, nor understand how God could possibly work such things for good, this side of eternity. However the LORD sees everything; beyond the limited scope of time and our understanding – and works with eternity in view: all we can do is simply trust that He knows what He’s doing; and He does (whether we believe it or not)!

He is working in us the glorious character of Christ Jesus, rendered in the powerful pigments of the Holy Spirit as He paints this work of art (“workmanship” in Eph. 2:10) in our lives, which in turn enables us by the same Spirit to complete those works, in accord with HIS purpose, which He ordained for us before we were ever born! See also: 2 Cor. 4:16-17.

Note to Readers: I anticipated that the completion of this chapter would be in two parts, but as this portion is already quite lengthy, chapter 8 will be treated in three parts. This is the end of part Two. I will immediately post part Three once this part is posted. God bless you!

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