Israel’s Future Salvation – Romans Study 71

Cary Cox, from Romans 11:25-27. Paul explains a mystery that has been revealed through the gospel, which helps us understand God’s plan in history, in the present, and even in the future! The fullness of Gentiles will come into the people of God, and then God will bring salvation to many in the nation of Israel.

A Heart of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is not just an autumn holiday in America. It’s an attitude of the heart, that is a pretty big deal in the eyes of God. Thanksgiving is simply a response of gratitude and appreciation directed towards the Lord. It is closely linked in the Bible with the concept of praise (Psalm 86:12; 92:1). When we offer thanksgiving to God, we are expressing a heart of faith and worship.

It may be surprising to learn that thanksgiving is actually commanded by God in Scripture. He calls us to give thanks to him in “all circumstances” – this is his will for us in Christ (1 Thess 5:18; see also Col 3:15). God even named some of the animal sacrifices in the Old Covenant after the idea of thanksgiving (Lev 7:12; 22:29). Israelites approached God through the blood of the sacrifice to give appreciation and thanks to the Lord, from their heart (Ps 50:14, 23).

Songs of praise are also closely associated with thanksgiving (1 Chron 16:7-10; Ps 69:30; 147:7). Israel was commanded to give thanks to the Lord, because he is good, and his steadfast love endures forever (Ps 107:1)! These songs of thanksgiving and praise were to be the first part of the worshiper’s approach to God; before coming to ask God for something, the worshiper must enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise (Ps 95:2; 100:4). Praise and thankfulness to the Lord should mark how we begin our prayer to him. It may take patience to wait in God’s presence, praising him before we ask for his help with what we are worried about. But many times, after we spend time praising and thanking God for who he is and for what he has done in our lives, we are no longer worried about our problem! Thanksgiving glorifies God, and it helps us have peace!

The Bible teaches that thanksgiving is a mark of a mature Christian (Col 2:6-7). It is also what is “fitting,” and appropriate for God’s people. Paul instructs the church at Ephesus to banish dirty jokes and foul language from their mouths, as inappropriate for God’s saints, and to replace that rotten language with thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is not just a matter of the heart, although that is where it begins. Scripture calls us to be vocal in our thanksgiving and praise! In Psalm 40, David elaborates on how he has not committed the shameful act of remaining silent about what God had done for him when he went to worship with God’s people. He writes, “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lipsI have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation” (Psalm 40:9-10 ESV). God wants us to vocalize our thanks to him in the form of songs of praise, and testimonies in church gatherings that encourage others.

The opposite of thanksgiving is the sin of ingratitude. This sin is described as a very serious sin in Scripture (Rom 1:21; 2 Tim 3:2; Ps 106:7). When Jesus healed ten lepers, and only one returned to him to give thanks, Jesus asked, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:15-18 ESV).

It is helpful to contrast the heart of thankfulness with a heart of ingratitude, to help us understand where we fall:

Thanksgiving has a heart of Humility, while ingratitude stems from pride. Thanksgiving comes from someone who is aware of God’s grace in their life; Ingratitude is blind to God’s blessings. Thanksgiving is the overflow of faith; Ingratitude comes from unbelief. Thanksgiving looks away from self to God; Ingratitude is selfish. Someone with a heart of thanksgiving thinks they have received more than they deserve from God; Someone with an ungrateful heart thinks they deserve more than they have received. Thanksgiving overflows in the mouth as praise; Ingratitude overflows in the mouth as complaining. Thanksgiving results in a mouth that vocalizes praise to God in the congregation; Ingratitude remains silent. It has nothing for which to thank God.

When we see that we are sinning in this area, we need to understand the gospel. Jesus died on the cross for our ungratefulness, our lack of praise, our silence, our complaining, our pride, and our blindness to the blessings of God. He paid for these sins with his blood, and rose from the grave to empower us to honor God in thankfulness! Let us repent of our sins, and ask the Lord to give us thankful hearts!

Grafted In – Romans Study 70

Cary Cox, from Romans 11:17-24. Paul’s parable of the olive tree shows God shaping the tree of his people according to his own purposes. Gentiles have been grafted in through faith in Christ, but are warned not to be proud. Are there any second-class citizens in the people of God?

The Surprising Plan of God – Romans Study 69

Cary Cox, from Romans 11:11-16. Giving us hints of Israel’s future hope, Paul pulls back the curtain to show us the purpose behind the way history has unfolded. God has worked out his plan through unexpected and surprising events, for his glory and the salvation of people all over the world. We can trust God when life surprises us.

Hardened by God – Romans Study 68

Cary Cox, from Romans 11:7-10. God chose a remnant of gospel-believing Jews, but hardened the rest. What does it look like when God hardens a heart? Apathy for the things of God. But the same God who hardens hearts also softens hearts!

There is Always Hope for the People of God – Romans Study 67

Cary Cox, from Romans 11:1-6. Since Israel rejected Christ, has God rejected them? Paul gives us reasons why God has absolutely not abandoned Israel. Because of the sovereign love of God that never quits on his people, there is always hope for the people of God!

No Excuses Before God – Romans Study 66

Cary Cox, from Romans 10:18-21. Paul makes his case that Israel is to blame for their willing rejection of Christ and the gospel. Using the Scripture as evidence, he shows that they were given every opportunity to believe the gospel, while God showed patient, tender mercy.

Does It Matter How Christians Talk?

See the source imageSpeech is important. God is a speaking God, and he has made humans in his image. We are creative, moral, emotional, rational, and spiritual beings who communicate with language. When sin came into the world, it affected every part of us, including the way we speak. Many Christians today seem to downplay the importance of our speech, but a quick survey of Scripture shows that this is something God takes very seriously.

Our speech is really a heart issue. When someone becomes a Christian, something truly miraculous and life-changing happens to them. The Bible calls it being “born again.” Through the gospel of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, we are changed from the inside out (2 Cor 5:17). The Spirit begins a transforming work in us that will ultimately affect all areas of our lives. This transformation will not occur overnight, but there will be progress, day by day, little by little, as we begin to look more and more like Christ. It is impossible to be a Christian and fail to experience this transformation process (Romans 6:1-4).

The change will be seen outwardly as fruit, or evidence, of our transformation. One of the ways this saving work will be seen is in the fruit of our speech. Jesus made this clear in Luke 6:43-45. A good tree (one that has been born again) will always produce good fruit, but the evil tree will continue to produce only bad fruit. Jesus then mentioned our speech: “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (v45). What is in the heart will always reveal itself out of our mouth! We can fake it for awhile. Many people go to church and say the right words, sing the songs, talk about Jesus, but their heart is far from God. Eventually the truth will come out. People will know who we are, and what we love, by what we talk about. The heart is seen in the words. So, if we are a Christian, our speech should increasingly reflect the new nature within.

Christ has called his followers to be different from the world. God is holy, and he demands that his people also be holy. “Holy” means to be set apart from the world to God, as his special people. He calls his people “saints,” or “holy ones.” We are his. Jesus instructed us to act as salt and light in this sinful world (Mat 5:13). Being holy, acting as salt and light, does not mean we physically separate from the world. But it does mean that our identification with Christ will be a visible, and even audible thing! Our speech should increasingly be different from the way the world talks (2 Cor 6:7; 1 Tim 4:12; Titus 2:7-8). Part of our walk as disciples of Jesus is the replacement of sinful speech with speech that glorifies God and builds up others (Heb 13:15). Our speech is an important part of our witness and our identification with Jesus.

The Scriptures contain clear commands about how God’s people use their speech. Christians are instructed to avoid sinful, hurtful, and filthy speech:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. …But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” Ephesians 4:29; 5:3-4 ESV 

These Scriptures are very clear. “Corrupting talk” is speech that is rotten, foul, profane. Twice this passage refers to this kind of speech as not “proper,” “out of place” for God’s saints. There is a kind of speaking that is just not right for the people of God. And God takes it very seriously. In the context of these instructions, Scripture mentions grieving the Spirit of God, and warns of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God (4:30; 5:5).

The power of our speech is strong, to affect people for good or bad. James warns us of the destructive power of the tongue, and how out of place it is for both blessing and cursing to come from the same mouth (James 3:2-12). It is not right to praise God on Sunday, and insult and curse others on Monday, who are made in God’s image! Our speech is not a gray area, or a small thing in the eyes of God. It is part of our break with the old man and our continual transformation into the likeness of Christ (1 Cor 1:5; 2 Cor 8:7).

It is a bit overwhelming how much the Bible says about our speech. Below is a list of specific types of speech the Scripture forbids the people of God to use. The list includes sixteen kinds of forbidden speech, and it’s not even an exhaustive list!

The Negative: Scripture Calls God’s People to Avoid Certain Kinds of Speech

  • Lies/deceit: Col 3:9; Hos 4:2; Prv6:17; 12:22; 1 Pet 3:10
  • Flattery/Smooth, flirty speech that leads to sexual sin: Ps 55:21; Prov 2:16; 5:3; 7:21
  • Crooked/Perverted Speech: Prv 2:12-13; 4:24; 6:12; 8:13;
  • Destructive that Destroys: Prv16:27; Jms 3:5-6
  • Dirty Jokes: Eph 5:3-4
  • Cursing/Profanity: Eph 4:29; Jms 3:9-11; Hos 4:2
  • Sarcasm/Insults (sarcastic daggers linger in the heart of others long after we have spoken them): Eph 4:29; Mat 5:22
  • Tearing Down: Eph 4:29; Prv18:21
  • Slander (speak critically with intent to hurt): Ps 101:5; Mk 7:22; Rom 1:30; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; 1 Pet 2:1
  • Talking too much: Prv 10:19; 29:11
  • Gossip: Rom 1:29; 2 Cor 12:20; 1 Tim 5:13
  • Arguing: 1 Tim 6:4; 2 Cor 12:20
  • Blasphemy: Ex 20:7; Lev19:12; 22:31-33 (“Profanity” connected to blasphemy in ancient times, to treat the holy as common; defile)
  • Speaking Evil of Someone (insult, mock, ridicule, in general): Titus 3:2; Jms 4:11; 1 Pet 3:10
  • Revile (criticize in an angry manner): 1 Cor 5:11; 6:10
  • Grumbling/Complaining: Phil 2:14; Num 11:1

It should be noted that on occasion, prophets of God used strong language to denounce sin – even sexual language (describing Israel’s idol worship as a kind of spiritual adultery – “whoring” after other gods). But this not the same as laughing with friends while dropping some choice words.

But the Scripture is not just negative on this subject! There are also commands for specific types of speech that God’s people must use! This is part of the idea of replacement as we grow in Christ; replacing the old habits of speech with God-glorifying ones. What is in the heart must come out of the mouth!

The Positive: Scripture Calls God’s People to Adopt Certain Kinds of Speech

  • Building Up Others: Col 4:5-6; Eph 4:29; Prv16:24
  • Honesty: Eph 4:25; Mat 5:37
  • Restraint (not talking too much): Prv 10:19; 29:11
  • Blessing Others: 1 Pet 3:9
  • Singing to God and the Church: Eph 5:19; Col 3:16
  • Teaching Each Other: Col 3:16
  • Prayer: Lk 11:2
  • Exhortation/Encouragement: 1 Thes 5:11; Heb 3:13
  • Preaching: 2 Tim 4:2
  • Witness/Evangelism: Acts 1:8
  • All Speech for the Glory of God: Col 3:17 

The focus here is not on rules, or approaching God in a legalistic, “I’ve got to control my speech to earn his love” way. It is a heart of obedience and thankfulness to the Lord that wants to grow in Christlikeness. If you have failed in this area (and we all have), know that Christ died for these sins, too! Let us repent of sinful speech, receive the Lord’s forgiveness, and lean on the power of the Spirit of God to speak in a way that glorifies God and builds people up!

Article by Cary Cox

Faith Comes From Hearing – Romans Study 65

Cary Cox, from Romans 10:14-17. Paul explains the necessity of hearing the gospel of Christ to be saved. It is through the method of preaching the gospel that God works to awaken faith. We must respond to the word by believing it. Do you understand the great importance of continually gathering with the church to hear God’s word proclaimed?

Two Approaches to God – Romans Study 64

Cary Cox, from Romans 10:5-13. Paul contrasts two completely different approaches to God. Israel approached God on the basis of works-righteousness, and failed. The only acceptable approach is through faith in Jesus Christ. Law focuses on doing, doing, doing. The faith approach focuses on what God has already done, through Christ.

The Necessity of Faith – Romans Study 63

Cary Cox, from Romans 9:30-10:4. Paul has been focusing on God’s sovereignty in salvation, but now he shifts to the necessity of human faith. We must believe the gospel! Israel failed because of God’s plan (from God’s perspective – Romans 9). But Israel also failed because they rejected God’s free gift of righteousness through faith in Jesus, seeking to establish their own righteousness through works of the law (from the human perspective – Romans 10).

Who Are the People of God – Romans Study 62

Cary Cox, from Romans 9:24-29. God’s people are chosen by God before time, and powerfully called in time, through the gospel. The Gentiles are graciously included, and a remnant of Israel mercifully remains. The people of God is the multi-ethnic church in Jesus Christ.

The Purpose of the Potter – Romans Study 61

Cary Cox, from Romans 9:21-23. Paul explains the purpose of God, which is his pursuit of his own glory in all things. God will display his glory, both in his punishment of the wicked, and in his salvation of his chosen people in Christ. We look at the reason evil exists, and how all things will ultimately work for God’s glory and the good of his people.

The Freedom of the Potter – Romans Study 60

Cary Cox, from Romans 9:19-21. We are concerned about our rights, but Scripture upholds the right of God as Creator to rule over all his creation according to his own will and pleasure. He is the Potter, and we are the clay. We discuss the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.

Is it Unfair for God to Choose? – Romans Study 59

Cary Cox, from Romans 9:14-18. Paul answers objections to his teaching that God sovereignly chooses some and rejects others. Is it unfair for God to choose? What does God himself say about it? We look at the free and grace of God, who gives justice to some, mercy to some, and injustice to no one.

Not All Israel Is Israel – Romans Study 58

Cary Cox, from Romans 9:6-13. A look at the sovereign grace of God, and his purpose of election. Paul explains how God’s word has not failed to Israel, despite the nation’s rejection of Christ. God has chosen a remnant within Israel to be his people – not all Israel is Israel.

God’s Word Has Not Failed – Romans Study 57

Cary Cox, from Romans 9:1-6. An introduction to Romans 9, looking at the big problem/question Paul is addressing in this new section. If God made such great promises to Israel, why did they reject their Messiah and not believe the gospel? Has God’s promise failed? Has he been unfaithful to his people? We see that God works in surprising ways, but he is always faithful, and his word never fails!

What Shall We Say, Part 4 – Romans Study 56

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:31-39. Practical application of Romans 8. Preaching the gospel to ourselves. Fighting the fight of faith and joy! How to get up every morning and turn our eyes to the gospel, rather than letting ourselves live defeated, distracted, fearful, and worried lives.

What Shall We Say, Part 3 – Romans Study 55

Cay Cox, from Romans 8:35-39. Paul brings his rousing, tidal wave of hope for believers in this fallen world to a glorious conclusion at the end of Romans 8. Nothing – absolutely nothing – will ever separate believers from the love of God in Christ!

What Shall We Say, Part 2 – Romans Study 54

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:33-34. How does the gospel minister to our guilty conscience? How can we speak peace to our souls when we feel the weight of sin? Paul shows us how to encourage ourselves in the gospel of Christ!

What Shall We Say? (Part 1) – Romans Study 53

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:31-32. Paul is building up to a joyful climax of truth in Romans 8! His questions are calling us to consider the gospel and respond with faith, joy, and hope in Christ. We have no threat because God is for us. We have no lack because in Christ, God has given us all things!

The Unbreakable Chain – Romans Study 52

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:28-30. God has a special people, and he is working out his sovereign purpose for his people in everything that happens! We find encouragement and hope in the unbreakable chain of God’s saving purpose in Christ!

The Indestructible Children of God – Romans Study 51

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:28. An amazing promise – God will make all things work for the eternal good of his people in Christ! Who can claim this promise and receive its encouragement? And how does God make bad things work for our good?

The Spirit Helps Us – Romans Study 50

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:26-27. We have great weakness. But we have great help from the Lord! The Holy Spirit is with and in believers, helping us in prayer. We are weak, but He is strong!

Glory is Coming! – Romans Study 49

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:18-25. Paul describes the future glory that is coming for those who are in Christ. New bodies, new heavens and a new earth, where we will enjoy God forever with no sin, no curse, and no suffering! Because of this truth, we can endure present suffering with hope while we wait for the glory that is coming.

Heirs of God – Romans Study 48

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:12-17. God as made believers part of his family – sons and daughters of God! He has promised us a glorious future inheritance! As we live in this world of suffering, we have hope in Christ, knowing that glory is coming.

A Holy Church Is Worth Any Price

Cary Cox, from Ephesians 5:25-27. See the epic vision of the Bible for God’s glorious church! A holy, healthy, God-glorifying church is worth any price God asks us to pay. It was worth it to God – he gave his Son! It was worth it to Christ – he gave himself! It was worth it to the Apostles – they poured themselves out to build the church. Is it worth it to us?

Biblical Church Discipline

Cary Cox, from Matthew 16:15-19. We look at the authority of the local church, who uses the keys of the kingdom of heaven, declaring who is and who is not a Christian. The church is called to exercise church discipline when members give themselves to unrepentant sin. What does this look like?

Biblical Church Leadership

Cary Cox, from 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Who leads the church, according to Scripture? Who are these leaders, what are their qualifications, and what is the responsibility of the church towards them?

Alive Forevermore – The Risen King of Majesty

Cary Cox, from Revelation 1:9-20. John describes his vision of Jesus Christ for the churches. Jesus is alive forevermore, reigning in glory!

The Freedom, Sovereignty, and Beauty of God

Cary Cox. Our afternoon Systematic Theology class looked at God’s attributes of freedom, sovereignty, and glorious beauty! He is the God who rules over all as King, and who satisfies us forever!

Do Not Lose Heart – Steve Davis

Steve Davis, from 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. Elder candidate Steve Davis encourages us to continue serving the Lord, even in the middle of afflictions. We are pouring ourselves out for the glory of God and for the good of his church!

Spirit-Led Sons of God – Romans Study 47

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:14-16. The Holy Spirit ministers to the hearts of believers, by giving them confident assurance that they are beloved, adopted children of the Father! We have assurance as we follow the Spirit of God in the pursuit of Christlikeness.

Kill Sin by the Spirit – Romans Study 46

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:12-14. Paul teaches that the Holy Spirit always leads believers to go to war against the sin in our lives. But what does killing sin look like? How do we follow the Spirit into this pursuit?

Led by the Spirit – Romans Study 45

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:12-14. The Holy Spirit is at work in all Christians, leading us to wage war against sin in our lives, and to pursue Christlikeness.

The Spirit of Life – Romans Study 44

Paul has been focusing on the Holy Spirit in Romans 8, so in this study we pause and look at the Person and work of the Spirit. Who is he, and what does he do in our lives?

The Spiritual Mindset Part 2 – Romans Study 43

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:5-9. Christians have the Holy Spirit within, and therefore exhibit signs of spiritual life. Unbelievers do not have the Spirit, and therefore show signs of spiritual death. What are the signs in your heart and lifestyle saying?

 

The Spiritual Mindset Part 1 – Romans Study 42

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:5-9. How can we know if we are saved? Paul describes what a Christian looks like, and what a non-Christian looks like. If we have the Holy Spirit, there will be signs of spiritual life in us. We will love God and the things of God, and this will overflow in how we live.

The Purpose of No Condemnation – Romans Study 41

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:4. Why are we declared righteous in Christ? For what purpose are we not condemned? Paul shifts his focus from justification to sanctification; from our positional righteousness in Christ, to our practical obedience in this life, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Theology of No Condemnation – Romans Study 40

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:1-4. We have studied what ‘no condemnation’ is and where it is found. Now in verse 3 we see HOW God achieved this salvation for us. We see the theology, or doctrines, that explain how God accomplished no condemnation.

The Location of No Condemnation – Romans Study 39

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:1-4. Where is the blessing of ‘no condemnation’ to be found? It is not automatic for all people. This salvation is only for those who are in Christ Jesus, the safety zone God has provided.

No Condemnation in Christ Part 1 – Romans Study 38

Cary Cox, from Romans 8:1-4. An overview of this passage, and an answer to the question, “What is ‘No Condemnation?'” See how glorious this good news really is!

 

The Struggle is Real Part 2 – Romans Study 37

Cary Cox, from Romans 7:13-25. Paul shows us the truth about our human condition – our total inability to please God in our own natural strength and resources. The enemy is within. We cannot keep the law. We need Christ!

The Struggle is Real Part 1 – Romans Study 36

Cary Cox, from Romans 7:13-25. An overview of the most controversial passage in Romans. There are different views, but all agree that the Christian life involves struggle. Christians are not immune from pain, suffering, temptation, and difficulty. But ultimate salvation and present encouragement are found in Jesus Christ!

Christians and the Law Part 2 – Romans Study 35

Cary Cox, from Romans 7:7-13. God’s Law is good and holy, but sin works through the commands to provoke our rebel hearts and make our sin problem even worse! Therefore, the law can never save us. We need Jesus!

The New Way of the Spirit – Romans Study 34

Cary Cox, from Romans 7:6. We explore what the internal life of faith in the Spirit looks like in real life. Pulling the weeds from the garden of our souls. Setting our thoughts and affections on Christ. Fighting the fight of faith!

Christians and the Law Part 1 – Romans Study 33

Cary Cox, from Romans 7:1-6. Paul explains how the gospel can teach that Christians are not under the law, without living as lawbreakers and sinners. We are joined to Christ, like a kind of marriage union, and obey God in the power of the Holy Spirit.