Romans 13:1-7 “Obeying the Authorities”

By believing in Jesus Christ, Christians have heaven as their nationality and have received citizenship in heaven.  However, on the other hand just like we are Japanese citizens, they have to live as citizens of the place they live at and they must fulfill their responsibilities there. Today let’s look at three aspects of how Christians should live within these two relationships.



I.            Obey the authorities that are over you (vs. 1,2)


First let’s look at the fact that men should all obey the authorities that are over them.  Please look at verses 1 and 2.


Here Paul says that all men should obey the authorities that are over them.  That is because all authorities are established by God. When we live in this world, no matter by what means the authority came into existence, we must obey the authorities. That is because even the authorities stand by the permission of God.  “Consequently whoever rebels against the authority” (2) is not rebelling against other men, but “is rebelling against what God has instituted,” (2) and so “will bring judgment on themselves.” (2)  Of course, there is no government or no institution in this world that is absolute or has no mistakes.  There are always some defects. However, no matter the greatness of the defects, it has “been established by God” (1) and without God’s permission it would not exist. Therefore, in this world to obey the authorities is to obey God. Therefore, if we obey the authorities in this world, we have peace.  If not, confusion and conflict arise.  That is because our God is not a God of confusion, but a God of order.


In the Old Testament when Korah rebelled against Moses and Aaron saying, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them.  Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” (Numbers 16:3)  God became extremely angry and opened the land they were standing on and Korah and his family and everything they owned were swallowed up. This was because of their sin of opposing of Moses. God judges those who oppose the leaders that God has established. 


David always obeyed the authorities that God established.  No matter how bad the king was because he was the anointed of God David admitted that he was the authority that God had established. Therefore, when David had a chance to kill          King Saul, he didn’t lift his hands against Saul at all. He left it to God’s judgment, and waited quietly for God’s judgment.  Therefore, God blessed him.


The Bible tells Christians to obey all authorities.  These authorities must be recovered.  For example, from the time of creation God’s order for the family was established as one husband, one wife and also the relationship of the children.  God made man, Adam and Eve.   In other words, God made one man and one woman.  And the two were to become one body, a couple, and through the couple, children were to be given.  The parent child relation was from the beginning decided by God. The authority within the family was given by God so the children were to obey their parents. That is to obey God.  Also for a child to rebel against the parents, is to also rebel against God.  This is the order decided upon by God.  Children must obey their parents.  


Of course if the parents judge the children unfairly, abuse them, do bad things, then they will dirty their position as being a representative of God, and are sinning against the children. Then when the child looks at such a parent, they will have doubts about God, question Him, and rebel against God. If the parents don’t use their authority rightly, they will lead their children to be rebellious towards God. When parents have bad control, the children are led to be bad. 


Ephesians 6:4


This means if there is bad control, the person that has the authority to control will have a bad influence on the person who is controlled.


It is the same in the church. The institutions of Pastor, Elders, and officers in the church are given by God. The members of the church must respect and obey the pastor, and elders. The Pastor and officers of the church will make mistakes. They will be distressed not knowing what to do. They may make the wrong decision. However, even so they should be obeyed because they are the authorities given by God in the order that God has established.


In the same way we should obey our country.  We don’t obey the government because the government makes no mistakes and is a correct institution, but because God designated it as an authority of God. God made the institution of government. God prepared people to work in the government.  The politicians and governmental officials are all servants of God. It would be great if they always recognized this and served. However, within the government there is no one who recognizes this so we can’t have expectations.  Even so we must obey them because the government is also given to us by God as a part of God’s order.  Paul encourages us to pray for such people.


I Timothy 2;1,2


The same can be said of every area of society.  College students often gossip about their professors. However, Christian students shouldn’t copy this, but instead respect their teachers from their hearts and must honor these authorities.  Adults, don’t gossip about your bosses or thoughtlessly disobey, but pray for your bosses and listen well and obey.  That is the will of God and the order that God has established.  This is so that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (I Timothy 2:1)  In other words, it is for our blessing.




II.          As a matter of conscience obey (vs.3-5)


Next let’s look at verses 3-5. Here a reason that we must obey the established authorities is given. That is for our conscience.


“For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” (3) It is rare that a person is scolded for doing something good. Though there maybe a few exceptions, usually those who do good are praised. If you do something good whether you are a Christian or a non Christian, you are praised. On the contrary, if you do something bad, you will be scolded and punished.   “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good… They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (4)  Here the words, “God’s servant” appears 2 times. In other words, Paul is saying that those authorities which are above us are all given by God, and to obey such authorities is to obey God, Himself.  He wants us to understand this as fearing God, Himself. To not obey authorities is not to obey God and is improper for Christians.  This attitude given by God is the fitting attitude for Christians. It is to depend on God, fear God, be thankful to God, and obey the authorities that God established.  If not, we feel our conscience condemning us. We will have feelings of guilt.  We should always before God, walk with a conscious that does not condemn us.  To do that we need to obey the authorities that God has established.


Even so Paul’s faith was huge. He believed that government and other rulers were all in the hand of God.  He had a faith in the providence of God.  Of course that does not mean to follow without criticizing profane authorities. There are situations like in the book of Daniel where the 3 youths, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego put their life on the line and refused to do the command of the King.  However, even at times like this, everything is in God’s hands and we need to understand that all authorities are established by God.  We, Christians, often regard this society as bad, and have a heart that works as an enemy towards the authorities of this society. Because of such a                faith in the providence of God, we need to take the attitude of obeying the established authorities.


Colossians 3:22,23


Christians resolve with righteous hearts to faithfully give their all to all things          as if they were serving God.  A person who when someone is looking pretends that he is enthusiastically working, but when no one is looking works half heartedly, maybe a                   clever person but, he is unfitting as a servant of God.  The servant of God whether others are looking or not, from his heart serves the rulers of this world like he serves the Lord.


We are not to serve to win men’s favor or to be noticed, but “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord…with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men” (Col. 3: 22, 23) which will lead to our blessing. This is because we have a working                            faith in the providence of God that behind the situation that we are in God is there and God is leading.  Because of this faith “it is necessary to submit to the authorities… as a matter of conscience.” (5)




III.Fulfill you obligations (vs. 6,7)


              The third point is that we all must fulfill our obligations.  Look at verses 7 and 8.


             Here the words “taxes” and “revenue” appear. At that time these words referred to two different types of taxes. Today both of these would be considered a part of general taxes.  In other words here it is teaching us that we have a obligation to pay taxes.  Here it is commanding us, ”If you owe taxes, pay taxes.” (7)


              The Jews at that time hated paying taxes because they thought that to pay taxes and revenue would be to serve other things than God They thought that those who collected taxes, the tax collectors, were the sinners of sinners. However, whether it is to the Roman Empire or to pagans, we have the obligation to pay our taxes.  An obligation is a debt. Verse 8 says, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” All of our obligations must be met like paying off debts. Paying revenue and taxes are an obligation.  That is respecting those we need to respect and honoring those we must honor.  This is putting into action our obedience to the authorities.


              Mat.: 17:24-27


              Here Jesus says that the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes not from their own sons, but from others.  Peter and the rest of the disciples belonged to God’s royal household so they were exempt, “but so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin.  Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” (Matt. 4:27)


              This can also be said of Christian.  It is a fact that when we believed in Christ we became a part of God’s kingdom.  However, that does not mean that we don’t have to fulfill our responsibilities and obligations to this world.  Everyone must fill their obligations.  We have to live honestly. This is how Christians should be in this world.  This is a testimony that we are obedient to God. This is the life that God desires for us.


              “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God”(1)as His order.  While keeping our eyes focused on the heavenly kingdom, as one living in this world, let’s fulfill our responsibilities.  This is so that we can live our lives in peace, for our blessing.

Romans12:14-21 “Victory through the cross”

In the passage that we just read teaches us the attitude that Christians should take towards those outside of the church. One day an expert in the law came and asked Jesus what the most important commandment is.  Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37) is the greatest commandment.  Then “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39) is the second commandment and is just as important.  In other words Christians are to love God and love others.  However, to say “Love your neighbor as yourself” is easy to say, but to put it into practice is not something that we can do easily.  Our neighbors are not always good people, and some people maybe be plotting evil. Even though you can love someone who likes you and is kind to you, to love those who oppose you, who plot evil, who talk negatively about you, who gossip, who slander, who are malicious, is not something that you can do easily.  What kind of attitude should Christians take towards such people? Let’s look at verses 14 and 21.

              This is the attitude that Christians should take. Christians should bless those that oppose them and persecute them. They must not curse them.  Christians must not do bad things to people that wrong them, and must “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Another way of saying it is that Christians must towards evil take the love of Christ’s cross and be victorious.  Today let’s look at 3 aspects of this.




I.               Bless those who persecute you. (vs. 14-17)


Please look at verses 14 to 17.  Here Paul writes about the Christian basic lifestyle.  That is “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (14)                                                 Also “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” (17) However, this runs contrary to our natural selves.  That is because when we are persecuted or wronged, we have feelings of wanting to take revenge with even more evil. For example if another person punches us 1 time, we want to return 2 or 3 punches.  Maybe even 2 or 3 punches won’t calm our anger. We want to kill them.


In the Old Testament the words, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” appear.  If someone ruined your eye, you were to gouge out that person’s eye.  If your tooth was broken, you were to break the other person’s tooth.  The law of revenge was that if a life was taken, you were to take the other person’s life.  There were no feelings of love at all.  However, this was definitely not a cruel law, but the greatest law of mercy. That’s because if someone breaks someone’s tooth, the person whose tooth broke may think that he doesn’t want to just break the tooth of the person who broke his, but his bone too. A person whose eye was ruined, he may not just want to gouge out the eye of the person who did it, but also want to cut his throat.  This is human.  God who knows man’s revenging heart so that man would not give more evil back to the person who committed evil, God declared that that you were to give back no more than you received.  Therefore, these laws appeared in the age of the Old Testament as an expression of God’s love.


Man is a jealous being. We curse those who harm us wishing that they will fall. This is human nature.  However, here it says, “Bless those who persecute you;” (14)                                               and “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.“ (17)


Matt. 5:38-40


It seems impossible.  How can you forgive someone who evilly attacked you, or someone who harmed you? More than that it seems impossible to be able to bless such a person. However, that’s what Christians should do.  By the blood of Jesus Christ all of our sin is forgiven, and we who have been made the child of God should love our enemies, and bless those who persecute us.  This is the road of Christian victory.


Matt. 5:43-48


Anyone can love a person who loves them. Loving your enemy, and praying for those who persecute you is to become a child of our Father in heaven.  It is not                     just the level of forgiving our enemies, but praying for our enemies for them to be blessed.  This is the will of the Lord and what God desires us to do.


Have you ever heard of Mitsuo Fuchida?  He was a Japanese soldier during the war and was captured and taken as a prisoner to America.  At the camp there was a volunteer girl that was extremely kind and helped the sick and everyone she could. Everyone was taken back by her and asked her why she so enthusiastically helped them.  She answered because her parents were killed by Japanese soldiers while they were serving as missionaries in the Philippines. Before they were killed, her parents knelt and prayed, “Father forgive them because they know not what they are doing.” Therefore, girl’s heart was changed into doing good to those who had done wrong to her and her parents. Thus she started volunteering at the camp. 


Fuchida couldn’t understand very well what she was saying. However, he later started reading the Bible.  When he read Luke 23:34, he remembered the girl’s testimony and finally understood what she was saying. He was able to pray that the Americans that were putting the Japanese soldiers on trial and slaying them would be forgiven.  He was also able to look to the cross and walk straight towards Christ.


To forgive our enemies and pray for those who persecute us is what God in heaven desires of us Christians. This can be done only by those who know the love of Jesus Christ who prayed on the cross.


To do that 2 things are necessary.  Of course to forgive our enemies and pray for those who persecute us we must know the love of Christ’s cross and be forgiven.  While standing on this premise, here it teaches us about 2 hearts that are necessary.


1.                                 Vs. 15 To put yourself in the shoes of the other person and think. When we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and think, then such a merciful heart will be born.  Christians need to rejoice with those that rejoice and cry with those who cry.


Even if we can cry with those who cry, to rejoice with those who rejoice is not an easy thing to do.  It is not so difficult to cry with those who are sad. When we see children without parents, or see a T.V. program about a family who is overcoming problems associated with living with a handicapped person, it is not difficult for us to shed tears.  However, when we see someone receive a huge blessing, it is more difficult to clap.


The first murder occurred because of envy. God accepted Abel’s offering, but didn’t accept his brother’s, Cain’s offering. Cain became envious, and killed his brother, Abel.  We are the same. When others are blessed sometimes we become envious. Christians aren’t to be jealous, but rejoice together and are sad together.  It is important to stand in the other person’s shoes. Such a heart leads to an attitude of blessing “those who persecute you”. (14)


2.                             (16)  Here it says “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low          position.” All of us have a heart that wants to boast, that doesn’t want to allow God to change us. We want to look good so without thinking we tell lies Therefore, here it tell us to “Live in harmony with one another.” (16) In other words, we need to harmonize like a song.  Modest people, those who don’t think they know everything are those who can live in harmony.  Those who are proud find it difficult to harmonize.   Those who think they know everything find it difficult to allow God to change them. Self advocacy only causes our mouth to become like poison handicapping the other person so immediately the harmony is in a mess . Wherever that person goes, peace is completely broken. On the other end if a person has a humble, modest heart and does not think that he knows everything, then others recognize the person, love him, and everyone can live in peace.


Galatians 5:22,23


These are the fruit of the Spirit.  We certainly can’t have these things by our own strength. When the Holy Spirit pours oil upon us, then we can begin to love, to rejoice, to receive peace, to endure. We are able to keep the fruits of “kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) 


By our own strength we can’t bless those who persecute us. By our own strength we can’t be humble or have a heart that doesn’t think that we know everything.  It is only by kneeling before the Lord, and meditating on all that the Lord has done for us, and by having the Lord work in our heart, that we can “Bless those who persecute” (14) us; “Rejoice with those who rejoice;” (15) and “Live in harmony with one another.” (16)




II.             Live at peace with everyone (vs. 18)


The second point is to “Live at peace with everyone.” (18) No matter what evil we throw away on our end, there are those who think badly of us, that persecute us, and that speak badly about us.  Towards such people here we are told to “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (18) However, no matter what the other person is like, what we can do ourselves is have peace with all people which is a necessary stance. If the other person does bad things to the end, there will not be real peace between the two of you.  At least on your side, keep perfect peace. You must make it clear that responsibility for peace lies with the other person.  This is very difficult in real life.  In our daily life, when we can’t maintain peace, we blame the other person. Man always has to blame someone else in order to maintain themselves.  However, even at times like this, we need to keep peace within our hearts.    




III.           Leave room for God’s wrath (Vs. 19 & 20)


Lastly, let’s look at leaving it to God’s wrath. When the situation doesn’t improve and the other person is acting out of evilness, what should we do?  Please look at verses 19 and 20.


We are not to “repay anyone evil for evil.” (19) We need to leave it to God’s wrath.  Of course, when we as Christians receive unfair treatment or have been wronged, we can appeal through public agencies.  There are times when the Person who appeals does better. However, the most important thing, the most major thing is to leave it to God. That is because the Lord says, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” (19)  Revenge is not what we should do.  That is what God does.  God judges righteously.  We need to leave everything to this righteous judgment.


Not only that but in verse 20 it says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” To give food to your hungry enemy and to give drinks to your thirsty enemy is responding in love.  It is not to ignore him thinking that even if you said anything it would be useless, but to respond in love.  By doing so, “you will heap burning coals on his head.” (20) This means that your enemy will have shameful feelings.  Even though the other person did bad things, the Christian responds with kindness so that the other person’s conscious won’t be able to stand it, and will become shamed. This is the road to God’s victory.


When Jesus prayed about those who put him on the cross, “Father, Forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing”, One of the criminals that was next to him was saved and God’s love was demonstrated. When Stephen was persecuted and stoned to death, he prayed, “forgive them.” Through that prayer, Paul was led to salvation, and became an apostle to the Gentiles. When Joseph in the Old Testament too forgave his brothers who sold him to Egypt confessing that God led him there, he overcame and had victory over his feelings of wanting to take revenge.  Joseph was able to finish his life victoriously. We should bless and must not curse.  When we live by these Words of God, we will receive grace from God, be richly blessed, and can life a life of victory.


In society, in our family, towards other people we are to keep peace with non Christians.  This is a principle that can be applied to all relationships.  Enthusiastically perform good works. When given the chance to do good, gladly do so Paul is teaching us this.  Towards everyone do what all people think is good. Towards those who hurt us we need to be kind and do good, and that will cause their conscious to hurt.  By doing that they will be led to salvation. This is the principle of victory in the cross.


We are weak and find it difficult to forgive those who plot evil on us.  Let’s be victorious following the principle of the victory of the cross. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.”(17) “Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (21) This is the victorious road the Paul is teaching us.

Romans12:9-13 “Living in true love”

              Romans is divided into chapters 1 to 11, the doctrinal part, and chapter 12 to the end, the practical part. In the practical part Paul talked about the principles of the Christian life Now here in today’s passage he talks about the foundation of the relationships of brothers and sisters in the church.  This foundation is love.  Please look at verse 9.

              The basis of the Christian life is love. When Christians become one as the body of Christ, the church, then they are really the body of Christ.  No matter how great of gifts we have, if we have no love then there is no meaning at all.  In I Cor. 13 too like this passage Paul taught about the gifts and after that spoke about love. In chapter 12 of First Corinthians Paul taught about the gifts and in chapter 13 he taught about love.

I Cor. 13:1-3

              Love is the root that actually supports all works and gifts.  It is the belt that ties everything together.  Today let’s look at 3 aspects of living in true love.

I.                Real love (vs. 9)

First “love must be sincere”. (9) The meaning of “sincere” is that we are not to love like an actor on stage.  In this world there is an enormous amount of love that is just being acted out.  There are many cases which look like real love, but in reality the person is just wearing a mask.  In many cases superficially they seem loving, but in their hearts they aren’t.  However, “love must be sincere”. (9) In other words, we have to love sincerely, with real love.

Here one characteristic of real love is given. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (9)  Real love hates evil and clings to good.  It is not happy over wrongs and rejoices in truth.

There is a huge gap between the love that the Bible teaches and what the world calls love.  Love in the Bible puts the emphasis on the motive behind the love. However, in this world the emphasis is on what is done and the result.  In his world people who give money to the poor and food to the hungry are thought to be full of love and to have good morals, but love in the Bible isn’t determined just by actions and results, but by the motives. Therefore, no matter what beautiful deeds you do, if the motives aren’t right, it can’t be called love.  From the Bible’s viewpoint, love is the real love given to us within our relationship with God and which is the outcome of motives also given to us by God. That is because love is from God.

I John 4:9, 10

              Real love is only in God.  God sent his only Son to this world and was put on the cross “as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10)  Therefore, only by being filled with God’s love, can we share in the joy and sadness of other people around us.  If not, that person whether he is conscious of it or not, his love becomes a deliberate and carefully planned out love for his own self satisfaction.  Such deliberate and carefully planned out love will definitely not grow into real love.

II.              Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (vs. 10) 

The second point is to ”Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” (10) Here the word that Paul uses for “brotherly love” (10) is “philadelphia” in Greek. This is different from the word “love” that appears in verse 9.  The word “love” that appears in verse 9 is “agape” in Greek.  “Agape” expresses the love that God has towards us.  This “brotherly love” that appears in verse 10 is the love that is seen among                     Christians. In other words, Paul is saying here that Christians who have experienced God’s one way grace and love need to have confidence in that love and then among the brothers and sisters in the church they must love each other.  “To be devoted to each other” is a word that is used for love within the family.  For people all around the world the family is the source of blessings.  That is because in the family there is fellowship of wonderful love.  With that type of love we are to love each other.  That is because the church is God’s family, and Christians are brothers and sisters.

Those who do not know God’s love can’t “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” (vs. 10)  Romans 1:29-32 tells us what those who “although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (1:21) “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (1:22) are like.

Romans 1:29-32

All of the characteristics of those types of people are thoughts and actions that are inconsistent with love.  Society which is separated from God and worships idols as gods, are all selfish.  They don’t have any love at all.  Especially look at verse 31 at the word, “heartless”.  This is the same word that is used in 12:10 for “Be devoted to one another” except it has an “a” in front of it. In Greek an “a” prefix is like an English “un” prefix.  In other words, “heartless” is not being “devoted” and to have no family love. To be “devoted” is to have a heart and to have family love.  “Heartless” is one element in a long list of things that are inconsistent with love.  In other words, one characteristic of those who don’t know God and are deep in sin is that they can’t have real family love. They can’t honor their parents, and do what they say.  Depravity, gossip, strife, deceit, malice, disobeying their parents, and their attitude and acts of self centered living become the characteristics of their family relationships. 

When the first people Adam and Eve sinned, their relationship crumbled. They lost the wonderful fellowship that they had, and their family relationship was destroyed.  This is what happens in the human relationships of those who are deep in sin.  However, Christians are not so. Christians, who by the love of God had their sins atoned by the cross of Christ, are brothers and sisters, God’s family, so they use that love to accept the other brothers and sisters. They must love each other. With brotherly love we should be compassionate with each other.

In order to do this Paul says next, “Honor one another above yourselves.” (10) 

Phil. 2:3-8

Here Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3)  And then as a model he shows Jesus.  “Jesus who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant , being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death even death on the cross!” (Phil. 2:5-8) This is considering “others better than yourself.” (Phil. 2:3) In other words, to “consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3) is not to compare yourself with someone and think that that person is better than yourself.  Jesus did not do that. This is not saying that someone is better than someone else. Jesus doesn’t think that way.  This passage says, “in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) Jesus considered us to be very important so He came to this world and died on the cross for us. If Jesus thought that he was more important, then he would not have come from heaven to this earth.  However, Jesus didn’t cherish his glory in heaven, but threw it away.  That is because he considered us as more important than himself.  Therefore, he left behind the wonderful fellowship that he had with the father and the Holy Spirit and became a man like us and came to this world to save us from sin and death.  That is really a one way love. If the other person surpasses yourself, then you would think of giving your life away so that person can live.  However, Jesus was in all aspects higher and higher, infinitely better than us. If we compared ourselves with Jesus, we not only do not surpass Jesus in any way, but we are completely filthy.  We are really sinful, self centered fools, but even so Jesus loves us, and cherishes us, and gave himself for us. That was the cross, the cross of love.  The Bible uses the word “agape” to explain this love over and over again.  “To consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3) is the love of the cross, the love that Jesus showed us.  When we have this love then love is born within us and it becomes possible for us to “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.” (10) This love needs to be the basis of the church.

III.            Be joyful in hope (12)

The third point is to ”be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (12) If we looked at the reality of this world that we can see, we would not able to “Be devoted to one another,” (10) When we think over and over again about the many different phenomenon that we see, we get angry, sulky, and become pessimistic.  That is because this world is a battlefield. There is fighting everywhere.  We run into many different problems.  However, even on the battlefield if we put our eyes on heaven, because there is hope that we will receive eternal blessings in the eternal kingdom, we can experience spiritual joy and freedom.

Paul in Romans 8:18 says, “Consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Those who believe in our Savior Jesus Christ are promised a future of victory, and glory.  This glory is promised.  Because this glory is promised to us we can deeply rejoice, and overcome difficulties.  We don’t rejoice because the circumstances we are facing now are pleasant. Even though it is not so now, because we have the hope that someday we will have glory and blessings, we can rejoice.  Because of this hope we can “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love” (10) even with a person that is tough to deal with.  We can “honor one another above ” (10) ourselves.

Recently on the T.V. program “Unbelievable” there was the story of a Chinese family that took into their home an injured Japanese soldier.  He couldn’t talk and his brain was injured probably from being shot in the head so he was like a three year old child.  For 47 years the family took care of the soldier being terribly persecuted for doing so.  During that time the father died saying that his will was that the family would take care of the Japanese soldier and help him find his family.  Finally the son was able to find the Japanese soldier’s family and took the soldier to his family in Japan.  This is truly an unbelievable story that a family would for 47 years take care of the soldier in the midst of persecution.  That’s not something that most people could do.  The reason the family could do this was because the father had experienced being abandoned as a baby and when he was at the point of dieing experienced being saved.

We too were dead in sin. By the love of God, we were saved by the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Our life is not ours, but Gods. We want to live by the will of God.  The will of God is to live in God’s love.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (9,10) Let’s desire loving personal relationships.  May we not put our eyes on the world, but by looking at God’s love be able to begin to place our hope in the eternal home in heaven. 

Romans12:3-8 “By the grace given”

Romans is divided into chapters 1 to 11 and from chapter 12 to the end of the book.  Chapters 1 to 11 teach that a person is saved by believing in Jesus Christ. There is no other way that we can be saved. It is only by believing in the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross that we are saved. This is the Gospel.  From chapter 12 on Paul tells us how those who believed should live.  Last week we looked at a premise, self-sacrifice.  “Present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (1)  Paul is saying that self-sacrifice is the foundation upon which we build our concrete lifestyle. In today’s passage Paul is teaching us one concrete thing that should be a part of our life style.  Please look at verse 3.

In other words Christians “by the grace given” (3) within the, body of Christ, the church should not think of themselves more highly than they should, but “with the measure of faith God has given” (3) them; soberly walk according to their gifts.  Today let’s look at 3 aspects of serving in the church.

I.       Think with sober judgment                                                                                                First let’s look at what it means to think with sober judgment.  Look again at verse 3.                                                                                                                                                          Paul is insists that all Christians who believe in Jesus Christ should not think of themselves more highly than they should, but rather think of themselves “with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given” (3) them. The word “think” (3) was originally related with the heart and expresses not just a mental thinking, but thinking deeply from your heart.  Therefore, to think with “sober judgment” is to have healthy thinking, not negative or avoiding involvement.  This is exactly the opposite of thinking “more highly than you ought.” (3) To think more highly is to think of yourself as higher than you really are, being arrogant. This is unhealthy thinking too.  Healthy Christian thinking isn’t just being humble, but thinking spiritually.  This is a little different from what the norm of society thinks of a humble attitude.  The norm of society also teaches humility, but humility in the Bible is not just thinking humbly about yourself. It includes the element of faith. “In accordance with the measure of faith” (3) we must think “with sober judgment”. (3)

              “In accordance with the measure of faith” (3) is the degree of faith that each person has received.  We all have received different gifts and to different degrees.  Therefore, we need to serve according to the degree that we have received.  That does not mean that a person who has received more is greater than a person that has received less.  Those who have received more and those who have received less both must be thankful for the grace that they have been given by God and faithfully use their gifts to build up the body of Christ, the church.         

Matt. 25:14-30

The problem with the servant that had received only one talent was that he was not faithful.  He took the 1 talent that he received and hid it in the ground and didn’t use it.  God’s interest is not in how much talent a person has received, but how the talent is used.  Therefore, both the servant that received 5 talents and the servant that received 2 talents were faithful in the use of their talents. God blessed them both with the same words of blessing. The problem lies in not how much we have been given, but how it was used. This is what it means by “think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (3) This is a healthy Christian heart, and thinking.

              In other words, real humility is to use the spiritual gifts that you have been given to serve God and man. Therefore, “think of yourself with sober judgment” definitely does not mean to think of yourself as no good or that you can’t do anything.  It means to think that the spiritual gifts that you have been given are all from God and be thankful and use them.

              Outside of God’s grace, without the cross and resurrection, we are small, weak, and wretched.  However, God loves us, chose us, cleansed us, and made us holy.  And then “in accordance with the measure of faith God has given” (3) us, He has given us spiritual gifts.  We are not to think that we above others and want to control them, nor are we to take the attitude of feeling content about being above others, but according to our gifts, “in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you,” (3) we must serve each other.

              That is why Paul says here, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:” (3) When Paul thought of the fact that he is a Christian and has now been given life, while being conscious that this is only by the grace of God’s salvation, he was aware that he was a leader, and a teacher only by the authority which was given to him by the grace of God.  In the church there is no one who is qualified to demand something from others.  All of us are nothing but forgiven sinners.  However, even such a person, if he can preach, he can do so only by the one way grace of God.  While realizing this, we should use the gifts we are given and serve each other.  That is thinking “with sober judgment” and is real Christian humility.

              We must not forget this. If we forget this, we become conceited. We aren’t able to have “sober judgment” (3), and healthy thinking. We become proud, lack faith, judge others, and become troublemakers. When we think that our gifts are all by the grace of God, we are thinking with “sober judgment” (3).  This is how our Christian thinking and life should be.

II.              One body in Christ (vs. 4,5)

Secondly, let’s look at why Christians should think this way.  That is because we are one body in Christ, and we are each organs that are needed for the health of the body.  Let’s look at verses 4 and 5.

Here Paul describes the church as “one body”. The church is the body of Christ. What does it mean that the church is the body of Christ?

1.                  Christ and the church are one body.  In other words, the church by the life of Christ is born. Therefore, without Christ, the church can’t be given birth.

2.                  There are many organs, but the organs are all connected together into one body. In one body there are many organs, but the organs do not all do the same job.  In the same way, in the church there are many members, but we each have our own jobs to do. In the body there are eyes, ears, mouth, nose, hands, feet, etc. When each of these body parts come together, then we have a healthy body. The eyes are seeing not just for themselves, but for the whole body. The feet walk not just for themselves, but they walk for the whole body.  In the same way, we Christians also are there to serve the other people in the Church.

       When our right hand is itchy, we can’t scratch it with our right hand. We scratch it with our left hand.  We scratch it without even realizing that we are doing it.  It is amazing.  The left hand never says that the itch is no concern to him and refuse to scratch the right hand.  Our hand never goes on strike saying that it refuses to work only when it is bringing food to the mouth. We need each other.  We work for each other.  We are all connected together to form the body of Christ.  Someone is the arm. Someone is the leg. Someone is the mouth. Someone is the finger nail which seems like something that you don’t have to have.  However, if you tried to pull a sticker off and it won’t come off and you tried to scrape it off with just your finger, it would hurt. It would be difficult without finger nails.  Every part of the body is necessary.

         There is no organ that is not necessary.  No matter how small an organ, it is necessary. That means that in the church we are to serve other people with the spiritual gifts that we have been given.  If we really understand this, the joy of serving in the church would greatly increase and the church will become unified and move forward.

III.            Different gifts (vs. 6-8)

Last let’s look at the list of gifts that we are given.  Look at verses 6 to 8.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (6)  This means that these are special gifts of grace given by God which is different than abilities that we are born with. Of course, there are times that the Holy Spirit uses our natural abilities too, but spiritual gifts are gifts of grace given by God. A person who is completely changed by the Holy Spirit is given spiritual gifts in order to perform unbelievable                   works.  God has given each of us different spiritual gifts.  In this passage mainly 7 spiritual gifts are mentioned.                          .

1.           prophecy  Here it says, ”If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.” (6) This gift is used to proclaim the word of God. It maybe a prediction, but in most cases it is in today’s words, “the spiritual gift of preaching”.  It is receiving a message from God and imparting it to believers by the Holy Spirit in a way that they can understand.

2.           serving       This is doing any kind of service needed by the body of Christ or any of its members. One example of this is serving those who are suffering financially or the sick. However, this spiritual gift is used to help those who are leading the work of evangelism.  People who have this gift in many cases can’t use their spiritual gift well when told to do so by themselves.  By working under a leader they are able to exercise the gift they have received with greater power.  Church staff, assistants, and co-workers often have this gift.  However, laymen too who serve in the church doing many tasks that free the pastor so he can attend to the work of preaching the Word of God also have this gift.

                                   Aaron and Hur who appear in Exodus 17 had this gift. At that time Israel was fighting with the Amalekites.  When Moses held his hands up and prayed, the Israelites were winning, but when he put his hands down, the Amalekites were winning.  Therefore, Moses had to hold up both hands up all the time, but as you probably have experienced, it is painful to hold up hands for a long time. This was very trying for Moses too. “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other-so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” (Exodus 17:12) Therefore, the Israelites were able to win.  This is the gift of serving.

3.           teaching                           This spiritual gift of teaching is the gift of explaining what the Bible is saying. It is somewhat like the gift of prophecy, but to say the difference strongly the gift of prophet uses spiritual authority and speaks boldly the message of the Bible that God has given.  The gift of teaching is the ability to make the Bible understand. It is the ability to explain the Bible in easily understood terms and make the Bible understandable.

4.           encouraging        Here it says, “If it is encouraging, let him encourage.” (8) If a person who is having trials or hardships and is depressed meets a person with this spiritual gift, he will be encouraged. If a person has lost all hope and he talks with a person with this gift and is prayed for, his spirits will soon be lifted. Most importantly a person with the gift of encouragement encourages people in their walk with Christ.  They encourage people to use their gifts to the fullest and accomplish great things. They encourage people to grow to be more Christ like.

5.           contributing        The gift of contributing is the ability to enjoy giving what is one’s own to the Lord and the Lord’s church. This does not mean that you have to have money to do this.  This is a spiritual gift.  It doesn’t matter if you have money or not. You can give whenever God gives the grace to do so. A person with this gift no matter how much he gives, he can enjoy giving.

6.           leadership         Here it says, “If it is leadership, let him govern diligently.” (8) The spiritual gift of leadership is the ability to spiritually watch over the church flock.  When a person with the spiritual gift of leadership leads, an ordinary vessel is changed into a capable worker. Even though you may not have any special skills or any special strengths, but if this kind of leader leads, you are able to exercise unbelievable strength.

David had such a spiritual gift.  If you look at I Samuel 22, when David escaped to the cave of Adullam, about 400 men “who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him.” (I Samuel 22:2) These people would be considered the scum of the earth.  However, David trained them and used them to unify Israel.  David had the spiritual gift of leadership.

7.           mercy           When another person is struggling, a person with the gift of mercy thinks of that person’s struggle as his own. He has the heart of carrying other people’s burdens, of caring for struggling people.

Today we looked at 7 spiritual gifts.  However this is not all of them.  In the Bible including this 7 at least 27 more are mentioned. These spiritual gifts are definitely not abilities that we are born with. The Lord has given them to the church because they are necessary for building up the church and for its growth.  They are given by the grace of the Lord so we need to ascertain what spiritual gift we have been given, and desire spiritual gifts, and humbly, use them to serve our brothers and sisters in the church.  “Think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (3) When you use the gifts of grace that you have received for Christ’s body, the brothers and sisters in the church, this is really thinking “with sober judgment”, (3) and is a healthy Christian heart.  That type of person will be further blessed, and will be used more and more by the Lord. 

Romans12:1-2 “The Christian life that pleases God”

Romans is divided into 2 parts. The first part is chapters 1 to 11 and the second part is from chapter 12 to the end of the book, chapter 16.  Chapters 1 to 11 teach that a person is saved by believing in Jesus Christ. In other words, it tells us about the contents of salvation and Jesus Christ who is the source of salvation.  From here on Paul tells how those who believed should live.  In today’s passage Paul is teaching on a general level.  In verses 1 and 2 Paul says there are two fundamental premises.  First is self-sacrifice.  Here it says, “Present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (1)  The second premise is changing yourself.  Here it says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (2)  Self-sacrifice and changing yourself are the foundation for having a faith that pleases God.  Today let’s look at three points about self-sacrifice and changing yourself.

I.                Present your bodies (Vs. 1)

First let’s look at self-sacrifice. Verse 1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”  

“Therefore” (1) refers to everything that Paul has said up until now, the salvation of the cross.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (3:23, 24) By God’s grace and mercy which is only by the blood shed on the cross that we are forgiven is far above any small man’s limited thinking. Thus Paul urges us.

Paul urges, “Present your bodies to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (1) Christians by the mercy of God, by faith of believing in Christ we are made righteous. By the power of the Holy Spirit are made holy. We are made heirs as a child of our Godly father, and we inherit the kingdom of God. Therefore, it is natural that we should sacrifice our self. 

Galatians 2:20

Christians are not living in this world for their own pleasure and contentment, but by the faith of believing in God’s Son who loves us and gave his own life for us. Christians live confessing this.  Therefore, giving everything to God is natural. Self-sacrifice is the most basic and important action that we should take towards God.  That is a “spiritual act of worship.” (1) Worshipping God is the beginning of the Christian lifestyle.  When man worships, he is the most human like. He can live brightly like the man he was originally made to be.  And when we worship, we become filled with strength.

When Israel marched through the desert, in the middle was the Ark of the Covenant.  This was a symbol that worship was their center.  For the Israelites worship was life.  Therefore, there were 3 tribes north of the ark, 3 tribes South, 3 tribes East and 3 tribes West of the Ark so all 12 tribes could move looking at the ark of covenant.  When the Ark of the Covenant stopped then Israel stopped. Then where they stopped, with the Ark of Testament as their center, they worshipped God.  Their center was worship.

We are the same. For all of our life, worship needs to be formed as the center of it. Worship where we give ourselves to God needs to be the center of our Christian lives.  If not, even if we are living in the flesh, our insides are dieing. We have no power. We will be a weak people.  Those who can’t offer worship that is alive are like a shriveled plant that day by day their spirit dries up.  In other words, worship is in deed our lifeline, the most fundamental and necessary thing. Therefore, we need to “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and pleasing to God.” (1)

Here it says, “Present your bodies.” (1)  Usually we would expect it to say, “Present your heart.” The heart is the center of man.  However, Paul said, “Present your bodies.” (1) One Bible translation translates this as “Present yourself”   This means to offer our whole self.  We are to offer not just our bodies, but our whole self.

Not only that, but here it says, “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” (1) In the Old Testament when sacrifices were offered, first of all the animal was killed, and then it was offered according to the law.  If it was offered that way, then the sacrifice would be pleasing to God, and sin would be atoned and as result fellowship with God could be restored.  However, here it urges us not to offer a dead sacrifice, but a living sacrifice.  The sacrifice that Christians offer is not a dead animal, but your living self, your whole self; your life itself is a sacrifice to God.

D.L. Moody one time when he felt God speaking to him, he wrote on a piece of paper “D.L. Moody” and put it in the offering plate.  In other words, he thought that he wanted to give himself as an offering.  This is what it means to give our bodies.

What God accepts, the offering that pleases God is this kind of heart.  God wants us to offer ourselves as a holy, living sacrifice.  “This is your spiritual act of worship.” (1)

II.              Do not conform to the pattern of this world (Vs. 2)

One other fundamental Christian lifestyle premise is to change yourself.  Verse 2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” This is the result of the sacrifice of verse 1, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.”  This is urging us from a negative                side, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (2) and a positive                    side, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (2)

First let’s look from the negative side, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (2) Christians who by the grace of God have been led to salvation belong to God, and have offered their all to God.  Each country has their own laws.  In the same way, the principles of the Christian life also are to be according to the law of the kingdom of God not those of the world.  What Paul calls “this world” (2) ignores God and turns its back on God.  A characteristic of the world is living selfishly and self-centeredly. It has always been so, but today also this world is so selfish. “They neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (1:21) This is “this world”. (2) Where ever you go, they don’t glorify God as God and consider people as people, so as a result they do things that they shouldn’t do with no shame. Paul is saying “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (2)

One weak characteristic of man is that he conforms to the patterns of this world.  Even if we go to school, even if we go to work, no matter where we go we don’t feel secure unless we are doing the same thing as everyone else.  Young people are pulled by the current of this age that doesn’t know God.  Just like things which have no life, even a huge log, flows with current, so those who don’t have the life of God are pulled by the current and flow down the current of this world, and are pushed by the fleshly style of this world into the flow.  Like Ephesians 2:1-3 by what Satan says they are pushed into the current. However, just as a small fish if it has life, it can go against the current, if we have life, we can live against the current this world.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (2) definitely does not mean to be separated from this world or isolation. To“ not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” (2) means that Christians who belong to God must not be controlled by the thinking of this world, nor do things from selfish motives, nor be driven by deep sinful impulses.  It means that even though everyone around you is doing wrong, that you only stand before the Word of God.

The problem is that at church we worship God, but outside of church we live a life completely unrelated to worship.  This is called dualism. The spirit and flesh are considered to be divided. Whether we are in the church or outside of the church, we need to choose to follow the will of God. This is a lifestyle of not being conformed “to the pattern of this world.” (2)

III.         Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Vs. 2)

The third point is negative side of personal change.  Here it says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (2) Even though it says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (2), it is a very difficult thing to do.  The question that I am asked the most as a Pastor is “How can I change?”  No matter how great a talk I hear on self-change at a seminar or meeting that I go to, 2 weeks later I have returned to my old self.  Even though they taught what I should do there, they didn’t give me the strength to do it.

There is good news.

Ephesians 1:18-21

Here the word “power” is “dunamis” in Greek and is the base for the English word, “dynamite”.  In other words, we have been given a power like dynamite to change our lives.  It is the power that 2000 years ago resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead. By this power of the resurrection, our past is canceled, our problems are overcome, and our personality is made anew.  Also it is promised that the Holy Spirit will give us this power of the resurrection. By believing in Christ we have the Holy Spirit living within us.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are changed.

However, for that to happen there is one necessary condition. That is “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (2) How we think determines what we do and say.  Therefore, Paul says “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (2)  This can be seen as the purpose of changing yourself, but it can also be seen as the steps for change. It is necessary to distinguish what the will of God is, what is good, what pleases God, and what is perfect.  By having such thinking and thoughts, the Holy Spirit works within us. Then we are able to change ourselves.

We are loved by God. By the shedding of Jesus’ blood we are forgiven of our sins and made a son of God.  Therefore, we live not by “the pattern of this world” (2) but by following the will of God. We must not “conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (2) We must “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” (1)

The first question in the Westminster catechism is, “What is the main purpose for which man was made?”  The answer is “to give God glory, and eternally please God.”  May our life give God glory and please God.  That begins by sacrificing to and being consecrated to God.

Romans11:25-36 “This Wonderful Mystery”

               Paul in Romans 9 to 11 talks about the problem of Israel’s salvation.  The Israelites who were chosen by God did not believe in the Savior Jesus. This doesn’t mean that God has rejected them. God through the remnant will save them. Their unbelief was so that salvation would be spread out to the Gentiles.  This is the plan of God.  In today’s passage Paul tells us his final conclusion about the Israelite’s salvation as “this mystery”. (25) Today I would like to share 3 aspects about this wonderful mystery.

I.                What the mystery is  (Vs. 25-27)

First let’s look at what the mystery is.  Please look at verses 25 to 27.

Paul who has talked about God’s plan of the salvation of the Israelites says here, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery.” (25) When Paul uses the word “mystery” he refers to what has be hidden in the past, but now by God this secret has been specially revealed.  By God’s special revelation it is made visible. What this mystery is is written in the last part of verse 25 and the first part of verse 26.  “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved.”

“Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” (25) “Until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” in Greek means “the Gentiles full time”. The problem is when this time is.

In the Present Age Bible written by Rev. Reiji Oyama, he translates this passage as “Until the time that God planned to accomplish the salvation of the Gentiles.” (25) In other words, this is in the plan of salvation that God ordained that the Gentiles that were ordained to be saved are all saved. This means the time when the ordained number of Gentiles have come into the church. As a result of Israel experiencing “a hardening in part” (25), the Gospel was spread to the Gentiles. At the time when the numbers of Gentiles are full and the plan of salvation is fulfilled, then “all Israel will be saved.” (26)

We need to understand what “all” means.  Calvin and many other theologians think that “Israel” has a spiritual meaning and refers to all those who have received salvation, both Jews and Gentiles.  It is true that Paul has used the word “Israel” with this meaning in many places, for example in Galatians 6:16. However, here we can see that he is not using that meaning, but is referring to the Israelites.  That is because in chapters 9 to 11 Paul has talked about Israel’s salvation.  In these 2 chapters the word Israel is used 13 times and they all refer to the Israelites.  Therefore, we can see that here too “Israelites” refers to the Jews.

“So all Israel will be saved.” (26)  Some theologians think that this “all” (26) means the way that it is written that every individual Israelite will be saved. In other words, before Christ’s second coming when “the full number of Gentiles has come in” (25) the Israelites as a people, with no exceptions, will believe in Christ as their Savior.

However, my interpretation is that “all” does not mean that all Israelites, with no exceptions, will believe in Christ, but the Israelites representative of the whole nation will believe. In other words, at the end of the age, the Gospel will be preached throughout the world. When “the full number of Gentiles has come in” (25) the Israelites who were hardened up to this point as a whole will believe in Jesus. “So all Israel will be saved.” (26)  Probably this refers to the remnant. The remnant appeared in 11:5.  God, even today, has by grace chosen a remnant, but in the last days more Israelites will believe in Jesus and be saved.  “So all Israel will be saved.” (26)

How great this is! We are astounded by God’s wisdom and knowledge.  In verse 33 Paul says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! We can do nothing but bow before God who has such a perfect, unthinkable plan.  We can do nothing but bow before God who has a wonderful mystery.  We must pray “Thy will be done on heaven and earth.” We must put all in the hands of God who has and leads with a perfect plan and wait expectantly for God to fulfill the plan. 

II.              The unchanging call of God (vs. 28-32)      

Secondly, I’d like to look at the fact that the Israelite’s salvation is based upon God’s unchanging promise. Please look at verses 28 to 32.

“They” (28), the Israelites, and “you” (30), the Gentiles, is written in a comparative style.  In other words, “they” (28), the Israelites, are now not obeying God and are against the Gospel, but by God’s promises, the blessings given to their fathers, they are loved by God.  God chose Abraham and said, “I will bless those who bless you…and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3) That promise will never change. God’s gifts and calling will never change no matter what happens.

This is the conclusion that Paul makes about all that he has said about the Israelite’s salvation.  A promise that God once made, he does not change.  That is because God is completely faithful.  God’s promises will never change no matter what happens.

Isaiah 54:10

Even if the mountains change, and the hills move, and the sun and universe change, and everything in the world changes, there is one thing in our life that never changes, that never moves.  That is the Word of God. That is God’s salvation.  Just as a mother watches over her child so the child feels safe and happy, so does God always watch over us so how safe and happy we can be.  The Israelites at times turned their backs on God and sinned. They worshipped the Golden calf.  However, they were not cut off.  That is because of their election, they were loved by God ”on account of the patriarchs”. (28)

In fact, God used Israelite’s sin, disobedience, to unfold the works of salvation.  In verses 30 to 32, the word, “disobedient” appears 4 times.  Disobedience is sin against God.  It looks like it will ruin God’s plan of salvation.  However, God who controls everything even turns such works of Satan into his advantage, and uses it to open                   the road of salvation for all men.  For example, this is true with the salvation of the Gentiles.  The Gentiles were saved because of the disobedience of the Israelites.  The Gentiles have “received mercy as a result of their (the Israelite’s) disobedience.” (30) Our God is a God who turns the tables around. God uses such disobedience to open the doors to perform the works of salvation.  That is because we are chosen by God.  From the time that we confessed Jesus as our Savior who saved us from our sins, the Son of God, we were put into the promise of Abraham.  We received the rights as a child of God and inherited the blessings. We are loved by God through the promises of the Word of God.

Sometimes because of our sin we think and struggle with the feeling that God has rejected us.  We feel like we are at a dead end with no exits.  However, God will definitely never reject us.  We struggle with our sin, suffer from our sin, and so that we can repent God pours mercy upon us.  There are times when we are in the midst of a huge problem. We are blocked by it, and we fall into darkness.  But this is a blessing too.  When we have gone through that darkness or tunnel, we will receive the light from heaven, and we can receive the salvation that God has prepared for us.  We will be able to discover that we have been made into an obedient person. We must believe on the promise of God’s word that God’s gifts and calling do not change, and find hope and peace in that.

III.            Leave everything in the hands of God (vs. 33-36)

Lastly. let’s look at the hymn that Paul sang as he thought about God’s plan concerning the salvation of the Israelites.  Let’s look at verses 33 to 36.

From chapter 9 on Paul has talked about Israel’s salvation. God has prepared a remnant and through them God plans to save Israel. Israel has been hardened so that salvation will be spread to the Gentiles.  However, in the course of time when “the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (25), the Israelites will search after God and “so all Israel will be saved.” (26) When this wonderful mystery was made visible, Paul was greatly astonished by God’s wisdom and knowledge and could do nothing but praise the God. “Oh the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (33)

People like this who look up to God, their hearts are overflowing with praise and thankfulness.  However, people who don’t, who compare themselves with other people, who make decisions by their own thinking their hearts are full of complaining and discontentment, and judging others. The correct Christian life is always looking up to God, depending on God, and leaving everything in the hand of God.

Psalms 37:5

Many things happen in our life.  Things that we didn’t want to happen, occur too. There are things that happen that we don’t think could be a plus in our life.  However, when we look at things through God’s eyes, there is nothing that happens that is not necessary.  Everything is in the eternal plan.  When we look at things from God’s standpoint, everything has a wonderful meaning and purpose. “For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!” (36)  Let’s leave everything in God’s hand and live a Christian life walking in thankfulness and praise.

Romans11:11-24 “God’s faithfulness and strictness”

Romans 11 is about the problem of Israel’s salvation.  The Israelites originally were God’s chosen people.  They were a people that experienced many spiritual privileges that other Gentiles could not experience.  Even so, God has not rejected Israel. God has a plan to save the Israelites through the remnant. As a result salvation spread to the Gentiles. God’s plan was so great and awesome.  Today’s passage deals with how the Gentiles who are saved should be.

I.                To make envious  (vs. 11-16)

First let’s look at verses 11 to 16.  I talked about verses 11 and 12 last week too. Israel did not stumble “as to fall beyond recovery” (11), but so that “Because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” (11) If Israel would have accepted the Gospel, Peter and Paul wouldn’t have thought of going to the Gentiles to evangelize.  Because the Israelites didn’t accept the Gospel, they went to the Gentiles.  If the Israelites all accepted the Gospel, then Christianity probably would have become only the religion for the Jews. Because the Israelites stumbled, the Gospel spread to the Gentiles.

However, it wasn’t just for the Gentiles.  “Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (11)   Thus salvation will come to some Jews.

There was pastor who took a position as a youth pastor in an American church.  There was a group of college students that wouldn’t listen to what he was saying.  They had grown up in the church and they took the attitude that they knew everything about the Bible there was to know.  However their Christian life was lacking in many aspects and they didn’t share their faith at all. The Pastor didn’t know what to do.  Finally he decided not to spend time with them because it was useless.  Instead he gathered together the students that had recently accepted Christ and began working among them.  Soon their lives changed into Christians who were excited about the Lord and they were enthusiastically sharing their faith. Then the students that had grown up in the church became “envious” (11) and began joining in with the new Christians. Within 2 years every one was changed and faithfully following the Lord.

Israel will become envious and some of them will be saved.

Now revival is occurring among our neighbors, in China and Korea. The Church is moving forward with great momentum. These revivals are taking place for us Japanese.  It is so that when we hear about the revivals in China and Korea that we Japanese will be roused and believe that revival will come to this country and earnestly follow Christ.

There are some people that think that comparing things is not good. This is true.  In fact, even though they heard about the revivals, they live within their own world and don’t open up their heart even a little so this is abnormal. A heart that is not moved by anything is not a mature heart, but a heart that has already gotten old. Young people are moved by everything, and without reservation their hearts are moved. In our Christian life our hearts need to be moved to obedience, and this is what pleases God. Salvation was spread to the Gentiles so that the Israelites would become envious.

Even though Paul was called to be an evangelist to the Gentiles, he desired the salvation of his people, the Jews. Also he had confidence that the Israelites had not been rejected. “If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.” (16)

This is saying that Israel is holy. “If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy;”(16) “The part of the dough offered as first fruits” refers to Israel’s ancestor, Abraham.  Abraham was consecrated by God and belonged to God, the descendants, Israel were consecrated, and will surely be saved. “If the root is holy, so are the branches.” (16)  This is the same as the first part of the verse.  “The root” of Israel is Abraham who was consecrated.  Israel has not been rejected.  By God’s election Israel is loved by God.  Even if temporarily they lack faith and they reject Christ, in the end, they will return to Christ, and will show their original nature.  God’s gifts and calling never change.  This is really a miracle.  Like Paul said in verse 15, “what will their acceptance be but life from the dead.” It will be like someone being raised from the dead.  God has such a plan for the salvation of Israel.

II.              Don’t consider yourself to be superior  (vs. 17-21)

The second point is that the Gentiles who were saved this way should not consider themselves superior. Let’s look at verses 17 to 21.

Paul is explaining the reality that the Israelites stumbled and the Gentiles will be saved by the example of a grafted tree.  In other words, he says the Israelites who don’t believe are “broken off” (17)  so that the Gentiles, “a wild olive shoot” (17) are “grafted in” (17).  The Israelites that didn’t believe were broken off from the tree and where they were broken off, the Gentiles were grafted in, and as God’s people. They were saved. This is God’s method of salvation. In other words, by the disobedience of the Israelites, the Gentiles were saved.

Grafting is a method that is used to grow fruit.  In Japan there is a miracle apple, the “tamura” apple that Westerners love. This was made by grafting an apple into a Japanese pear. The outside looks like an apple, but it has the strong sweetness of a Japanese pear. If you search the whole word over the only place you will find this apple is in Nanaechou, Hokkaido.  It is an extremely rare apple.

God broke off the branch of the disobedient Israel, and in place of the branch, grafted in the branch of the wild Gentiles.  By doing that, the Gentiles became the descendants of Abraham, God’s people of salvation. This was decided by God’s wisdom  before the foundation of the world was laid.  How great a wisdom this is!  When we think about God’s wisdom, we should sing praises like verse 33.

God salvation reached to the Gentiles by the surprising method that we had never even thought about.

Because of this we need to learn from God’s knowledge.  If we, the Gentiles, have been grafted in, we must not consider ourselves to be superior to others.  As verse 17 and 18 say, the branch, the Gentiles, “do not support the root, but the root supports” the branch.

We must not overlook the fact that we are being supported.  We are what we are today because of the support of many people, not because of our own strength.  Even more so is that we have faith because of the many prayers and sacrifices of many people that stood behind our backs. It doesn’t seem like anything special that every week we can worship here, but this is also a miracle.  A lot of people’s support made this possible.  There is nothing that you can do by yourself.  God supports such people and by that support you have the life that you have now, you have the Christian life that you have now.  Therefore, everything is by the grace of God.  Even so, we immediately become proud and forget this fact and have the illusion that we have matured all by ourselves. We fall into pride that there is nothing that we can’t do by ourselves.  When we really realize that because everyone supported us, we have become what we are,  because God supported us we are what we are, then complaining and dissatisfaction should not come out of us.  With thankfulness and joy we can                             humbly move towards God.

Our salvation is the same. Our salvation came because we were grafted into the place where Israel was broken off of.  It is because of the support of Israel that we are saved so we can’t be proud. Verse 19 gives an example of words that come from such prideful thinking. “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”  In other words, it is the thinking that God broke the branches of the unbelieving Israel so that the Gentiles might be saved.  It is true that Israel’s rejection                           was so that the Gentiles might be saved.  However, that was not so that the Gentiles would be proud, but it was for no other reason except that they be thankful. We who deserved to be destroyed were by the one way mercy of God, and by the support of the prayers and sacrifices of many people were saved. We can only be thankful.  If we make such declarations as “The branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” (19), it is because we have lost sight of the position that we are in and have become prideful. This type of person must be prepared to be cut off like the Israelites.  God desires that we not consider ourselves as superior, but live being thankful to God. We need to live humbly realizing that it is by the support of many people that we are who we are.

III.            The kindness and sternness of God

The third point is to abide in God’s grace.  Let’s look at verses 22 to 24.

A person that considers himself superior before God and is prideful, whether he is an Israelite or a Gentile, he will be cut off. Israel who refused God’s grace and renounced the faith right after the time of Paul faced the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  They had no country and became scattered throughout the whole world.  In 1948 from throughout the world the Jews returned to their homeland in Palestine and formed the country of Israel. Until today they have continued to shed blood over and over again.  This is the “sternness of God.” (22)  The “sternness of God.” (22) comes upon those who don’t believe in God’s salvation and live by their own way of living.  However, those who “continue in his kindness” (22) are different. God’s kindness is upon them. To continue in the faith, to “continue in his kindness” (22) God’s kindness and grace will continue to be poured out upon you.

This can also be said about Israel who formerly by unbelief refused the Christian faith. If they don’t continue in unbelief, and by God’s mercy, return to God, God will forgive. They will be saved. Paul says this in verses 23 and 24.

“And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive trees!”

In this passage is the hope of Israel.  If they made a mistake one time that is not the end “for God is able to graft them in again.” (23)  However, there is one prerequisite for that. That is “if they don’t continue in unbelief,” (23) “If they don’t continue in unbelief…God is able to graft them in again.” (23) Another way of saying it is to repent and return to God. If they repent and return to God, and not by their own righteousness, but by the salvation which God prepared through Jesus Christ, even a branch that has been cut off, God will graft it in again. What a hope!

II Cor. 5:17

If any one who believes Christ, “he is a new person.” (II Cor. 5:17) This is “if they don’t continue in unbelief,” (23) Please believe in God’s Christ. Believe and continue in that grace. If so we too can be grafted in again.  We stumble many times, but we repent and return to God.  This is the only road to God. There is no power without Christ’s blood on the cross. is type of person must be prepared to be cut off like the Israelites.  God desires that we not cone the branches.

Romans11:1-12 “The salvation of Israel”

              Today let’s look at the salvation of Israel.  When you look at the Bible, you will see that God has specially chosen the Jews. Even so, when Jesus came to this world, not only didn’t the Jews accept Christ, but they put him on the cross and killed him. From then until now 2,000 years later, they haven’t accepted Christ. Does that mean that the Word of God that Israel is chosen by God is nullified? That is not so.  God will according to the promises of the Word of God save them.  Today let’s look at three aspects of how God is going to save the Jews.

I.                The remnant (vs. 1-6)

First look at the fact that there is a remnant.  Please look at verses 1 to 6.

Paul opposed the question, “Did God reject his people?” (1) strongly with “By no means!” (1) As proof, Paul tells the people to look at him.  “I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.” (1)  If Paul who was an Israelite believed, then God had not rejected the Israelites.  Paul’s claims are persuasive.  It is true that a large percentage of the Jews rejected Jesus Christ, but on the other hand, there were a few Jews who accepted Christ and followed Him.  Paul is saying that he is one of those Jews.  Not only that, but he is not the only one.  If you look at the Bible, God did not use Israel as a whole, but chose righteous men from Israel to use to fulfill God’s work.  One example is Elijah. 

During the reign of King Ahab, Israel entered into its worst dark era.  Those who honored God were terribly persecuted. The country became separated from God, and worshipped the idols of Baal and Ashura.  Elijah who was worn out from preaching the Gospel called out before God, “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me” (3)

Elijah is lamenting that God’s chosen people have been killed and “I am the only one left.” (3)  God answers him, “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (4) 

God has not rejected the promise He made with Israel.  In order to keep a remnant of chosen people, today too he has prepared and reserved “seven thousand” to be used as instruments to fulfill the will God Just as “’I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” (4, 5)  For example, Jesus’ 12 disciples were such a remnant.  There were all Jews.  Also the 500 brethren that witnessed Jesus’ resurrection were also all Jews.  These maybe only a handful, but God keeps them as a remnant and certainly has not rejected them.

That was not just in Paul’s age, but in the present age too.  In China which is right next to us the Chinese are being saved right and left, and when we see the unbelievable work that the Lord is doing there, we look at Japan where the condition is not like that and lament.   We wonder if maybe God has rejected the Japanese.  However, that is not so.  In reality, we have been saved. When we consider that although there maybe only a handful, a small number of people that are saved, we can know that God has not rejected the Japanese. In fact, God through this small remnant God fulfills his works.  We need to as this remnant, until the end preserve the faith.

According to Revelations at that time in minor Asia there were seven churches.  Within these churches there were some large churches, but there were some that were not.  Christ approves of not the large churches, but churches that before God follows the faith to the end.  One of these churches was the Church at Philadelphia.  They followed the Word of God and until the end they didn’t give up their faith. It doesn’t matter how many people there are. What is important is whether we are seeking after God or not and whether we are standing strongly until the end or not. No matter how few people there are, if they hold on tight to their faith until the end. God will use them to perform his works.  We to in the end times want to be the remnant and to be accepted before God as a saint.

II.              Do not be hardened  (vs. 7-10)

In verses 7 to 10 Paul tells us about the characteristic of the large majority of Israelites that didn’t believe in Christ and didn’t receive grace. That is that they were hardened.   Here it says, “The elect among them did, but the others were hardened.” (7)  The elect are those who were “a remnant chosen by grace.” (5) The characteristic of the others were that they “were hardened.” (7) If a heart is hardened, then no matter how much the person hears the Word of God, or sing praises, the person isn’t moved, and has no understanding.  Here it is written, ”God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” (8)

The characteristic of those who have not received grace is that they can not see the Word of God and they can not hear it either. David said, “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them.  May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” (9,10)  This is a prayer for God to bring pain upon them, that they might die in vain.  In other words, it is a prayer of cursing.

The dreadful curse in our life is not understanding the Word of God.  When we don’t understand the word of God, we pursue emptiness. There are people who don’t believe in Christ, but they succeed in business, are healthy, and everything they do goes the way they want it to.  However, this is a curse.  Real blessings are in Jesus Christ.  We need to remember that to understand the Word of God, and before God to come in prayer is the greatest blessing there is.       

Jesus said about the last days in Matt. 24:38-39”For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” ”For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” (Matt. 24:38)  The problem was not that the people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. The problem was that was the only they could see. That was everything to them. “They knew nothing about what would happen” (Matt. 24:39)  Then “the flood came and took them all away..” (Matt. 24:39)  This is what people with hardened hearts are like.  Those people who are really have God’s grace upon them have the assurance and live by, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)  To understand is grace. A repentant heart, and a gentle heart is a blessing. Jesus told us to use our hearts to hear. A person that can hear Christ’s Words, who can understand the will of God is a really blessed person, and is a remnant by God’s grace.

Real blessings depend on whether we understand or not.  Let’s not harden our hearts, but listen to the Words of Christ obediently.  That is the sign of the remnant.

III.            Our mistakes will be used (vs. 11-12)

The third point is that God used the mistakes of the Jews to fulfill His works of salvation.  Let’s look at verses 11 and 12.

A part of Israel had faith by the grace of God and was chosen as a remnant. A large part of Israel stumbled.  “Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgressions, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (11) God used their mistakes as part of His plan to bring salvation to the Jews.

Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles, but no matter what town he went to, first he would go to the Jewish temple and told the Gospel to the Jews.  However, the hearts of the Jews were hardened and they didn’t even try to listen to the Gospel that Paul was preaching. Then Paul went and preached to the Gentiles.  The Gentiles were different than the Jews.  They heard the Words of the Gospel and obediently accepted it. They bore fruit. The Gospel changed their lives, and became the power that spread the Gospel throughout the world.  That was a huge grace for the Gentiles.  The reason that Israel stumbled was not so that Israel would fall, but so that through their mistakes, the Gentiles would be saved.

We don’t like to fail or make mistakes.  We think of all failures as minuses.  God uses our mistakes to fulfill his works.  Of course, our sins or transgressions are not automatically forgiven, it is necessary to repent.  However, our faults and transgressions are not just over, but God will use our failures to fulfill his own works.  He changes the minuses to pluses.

Joseph who appears in the Old Testament was so.  Joseph was the second youngest of 12 brothers.  The brothers were extremely jealous of him because his father especially loved Joseph.  When this problem hit its height, they put Joseph in a pit and planned to kill him.  However, when they saw a caravan approaching they thought it would be better to sell him than kill him. Joseph was sold to foreign business men.  They made Joseph a slave and took him to Egypt.

Joseph understood that he was in a foreign county, but he didn’t know anyone there, he didn’t know the language, and even though he didn’t desire it he had to become a slave.  On top of that the wife at the home where he was working as a slave tried to get Joseph to sleep with her, but when he refused. She accused Joseph to her husband and Joseph was put in prison.

However, many years after this tragedy took place Joseph met his brothers again. As he remembered all that had happened he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

Joseph was able to recognize the truth that God is in control of all that happens.  He believed that the things that others around him did all of their sins, God used them, turned them around, and made the evil things into good things.

Romans 8:28

To leave things in the hand of God is to depend on God in all situations. Joseph who always depended on God was able to say in the end, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)  When Joseph had bitterness in his heart, Joseph left it in the hands of God.  He continued to have faith and hope in God, and in the end he believed that all would work for the good.

We are the same.  There are times when we fail, or transgress and are depressed.  However, God will use even our failures to fulfill God’s works.  The important thing is to have Jesus Christ forgive us of our sins and then believe that God is going to change our life into something better, and that God is working in our lives.  God has a special plan for our lives, and all confusion and struggles God will change into good.  We need to believe this and leave all things in God’s hands.  If we can leaving it in God’s hands, when we reflect over all of life we will realize that God has used all the negative things in our lives for our good and will be thankful.  By leaving everything in God’s hands, we can walk a life of future and hope.

Romans10:13-21 “Faith comes from hearing”

In the middle of chapter 10 Paul talked about salvation by faith.  In other words, faith is not just being zealous.  The important thing is the direction that the faith comes from.  The Israelites were certainly zealous towards God, but their direction was wrong.  Their zealousness didn’t flow from a knowledge based upon the Bible.  Their righteousness was not God’s, but they tried to stand in their own righteousness.   This was their problem. The right direction is Jesus Christ.  Christ was the end of the law so those who believe in Him are all made righteous.  “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (9) In today’s passage Paul is explaining to us how such a faith is born. Please look at verses 14 and 15.

In order to emphasize the point strongly, Paul uses a form of grammar where the word order is reversed.  Therefore in order to understand the verse, you need to look at the end of the verse first.  In other words, if someone is sent out, then the Word of God can be preached.   If someone preaches, then people can hear.  If people hear, then people can call on the name of the Lord.  If they call on the name of the Lord, they can believe.  Here it is telling us that three things are necessary for believing.

1.               Hearing the Word of God

2.               Someone to preach the Word of God.

3.               Someone to be sent out.

Today I would like to talk about these three things.   I.                Faith comes from hearing (vs. 14)

First of all in order to believe we must hear the Word of God. Verse 17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”   Faith is conceived by hearing the Word of God.  The key to non Christians having a faith in Christ is to use every possible opportunity and method to give them chances to hear the Word of God. In order to believe in Christ they must hear the Words about Christ, the Gospel. Faith is only conceived by hearing the Word of God.  Therefore, we need to make opportunities for non Christians to hear the Word of God. Sometimes Christians say that they are being a witness by their lives.  This is extremely important, but besides this it is necessary to share the Word of God.   “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (I Cor. 1:21)II.              Someone who preaches (vs. 14) The second point is that people are needed to preach.  In verse 14 it says, “how        can they hear without someone preaching to them?”  Someone is needed to preach in order for them to hear.Jesus said in Matt. 9:37 and 38, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  People are needed for the harvest.  People who will work are needed.  Jesus didn’t say that a tractor was necessary for the harvest.  He said that workers are needed.  People are needed who are bound by the love of Christ, that are willing to do anything for the gospel and who are full of love and zealousness for the preaching the Word of God.   God made the heavens and the earth. He is omniscient. He said, “I am who I am.” In other words, even if nothing else exists God exists because he is a self existing God.  This God, is looking for people to share the Gospel.  John the Baptist said, “I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children from Abraham.” (Matt. 3:9)  In another place Jesus said, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) This God is looking for workers to preach the words of salvation. In every age God uses each one of us to preach the Gospel. III.            We must be sent out (verse 15)The third point is that that we must be sent out.  Verse 15 says, “How can anyone preach unless they are sent?”               To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not an easy thing to do. There is no one who wants to say, “You are a sinner!”  Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” (1:16) Why would Paul say this? Probably because he himself was ashamed.  Such feelings keep us from talking about the Gospel. It causes us to not to want to talk with others and to keep our faith within ourselves.  However, evangelizing is fun.  When a person you have evangelized to is saved, you feel like you are flying in the heavens.  Even so the thoughts of the flesh keep us from sharing the Gospel.

John 20:21-23

Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21)  We are weak and are ashamed of the Gospel.  We don’t have knowledge and experience.  However, Jesus knows this, but even so he says, “I am sending you.” (John 20:21) He says that he will go with us, that he will give us the authority from heaven, that the Holy Spirit will teach us what we are to say, that the Holy Spirit will encourage us and give us strength so we are to “GO”.  He says that before the world was formed                   I chose you.  I have given you joy and glory on earth and heaven, but on the earth there are still a lot of people that don’t know the Gospel.  Therefore, I send you. Just “as the Father sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21) with the presence of God and power.  Will you go?  Will you go?  Will you go?

This is what God really desires.  Paul after this from the end of verse 15 quotes from the Old Testament. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Isaiah 52:7)   The feet of those who share the Gospel are beautiful.  That doesn’t mean that everyone has to become a pastor, or a teacher, or an evangelist.  If that was so, who would be left here to witness in society?  However, there is something that God desires from all of us.  That is when Jesus Christ says, “Will you go?” to answer, “Yes, I will.” What we do after we go is different for each individual person. The important thing is when we hear, “Will you go?” to answer, Yes, I will.” This is what God  desires of us.

Before when God appeared to Moses who had sheep on Mt. Sinai and asked Moses to go to Egypt and lead God’s people out of Egypt, Moses answered, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)  He thought that he couldn’t, that that was impossible for him.  Even though Moses objected God said that he was to go.  Next Moses asked God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13)  Then God answered, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)  Moses had “I AM WHO I AM” with him and was sending him so he thought that was enough.  There was nothing more that he could ask for and so he followed the Word of God and set out for Egypt.

Before the Southern kingdom, Judah, was captured by Babylon, God asked Jeremiah to go. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) However, Jeremiah said that he couldn’t. He said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” (Jeremiah 1:6)  He thought that he was too young, but God said to him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” (Jeremiah 1:7,8) It didn’t matter whether Jeremiah was young or old.  What was important was that God was with him.

The year that Uzziah, the King of Southern kingdom died, probably about 740 B.C., God called Isaiah.  This was in a vision in the worshipful                         temple.  It was filled with the presence of God and there were seraphs above God who called out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) The temple “doorposts and threshold shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:4) Isaiah was moved by the holiness of God and cried out, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5) Then one of the seraphs took a live coal from the altar and touched Isaiah‘s lips saying, “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:7)   Then God’s words sounded, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8)  Since he had experienced God’s forgiveness, Isaiah answered, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

“Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Isn’t this how we should respond to God’s calling. We maybe weak humanly speaking, we may have weak points, we may be young, we may not know what to say, we may be old and our body isn’t working, we may be full of sin and think that we are not fit do the Lord’s work, but God wants us to say, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) The Lord wants to send you.  By your small faith the Good News will be preached, and many people will hear and believe the Word of God.  That is how God wants to use you.  “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (15)  That is because “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (17)

Romans10:1-13 “The way of salvation”

             The will of God is that all people be saved. Paul has said this over and over again that what is needed is faith. Here is the heart of the Gospel, the salvation of man.  Today let’s look at three aspects of salvation by faith.

I.                Inspect the direction of zealousness (vs.1-3)

First let’s look at the point that you aren’t saved by just being zealous. Look at verses 1 to 3.  Paul always deeply desired that his fellow men, the Israelites be saved.  They were certainly zealous toward God, but unfortunately, their zealousness was not based upon correct knowledge.  To put it another way, their zealousness was not based upon a knowledge of God, but was zealousness of their own. 

In our life of faith, having zealousness is very important.  It is like the engine of a car. The car won’t move unless the engine is turned on.  In the same way, if there is no zealousness, there is no change in a person’s life.  The Bible tells us that zealousness is important.  For example, Romans 12:11, and Rev. 3:15.  God wants us to be either hot or cold.   God wants us to return to the basics of our faith.   When we first entered the faith we were so enthusiastic, but that enthusiasm gradually faded without us realizing it.  Heat heats other objects and influences them.  The heat becomes cold. Therefore, we need to continuously reset our faith by being enthusiastic and repenting.

The problem is the direction.  The Israelites were certainly enthusiastic, but the direction of their enthusiasm was wrong.   They were zealous towards God, but their zealousness was not based upon correct knowledge.  It wasn’t based upon the Word of God.  Therefore, even though they had zealousness, it was completely in the wrong place. They were completely outside of the will of God.

For example, Paul was like this.  Before he was saved he was very zealous.  The Bible tells us that he was so zealous that he arrested those who believed in Jesus and put them in the prison.  He thought that a person who was put on the tree was to be cursed and there was no way that such a person could be the Son of God.  He thought that those who believed in Christ were blaspheming God.  He went to Damascus to arrest the Christians.  In today’s world that would mean persecuting Christians not only in your country, but also going to a foreign country to persecute them.  What he was doing for God was actually being against God, and being an obstacle to the Kingdom of God.   This is zealousness that doesn’t bring life, but kills.  It is zealousness not for God, but a zealousness of your own.  Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing, but if that enthusiasm is not rooted in the Word of God, it can become like this.   We all have this tendency.  Therefore, Jesus said to Martha the words recorded in Luke 10:41-42.

Before we start running around being enthusiastic, we need to learn from Mary.  Mary didn’t run around being hospitable to Jesus.  Reversely, she sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to the Word of God.  After a while, Martha who was fretting and was anxious came to Jesus and asked him to tell Mary to help her.  Jesus answered Martha telling her, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41,42)    What “Mary has chosen” (Luke 10:42) which is better is to listen to the Word of God.  We need to first listen to the Word of God and then run.  We need to make prayer and the Word of God first, realize what the will of God is, open our ears to the Word of God and then we should eagerly serve the Lord.  While making worship and prayer meetings a priority, upon that foundation we should build our life of faith and build up our life.  This is what Mary chose.  This is what Jesus desires of us.  When the direction of our zealousness is right, then there is meaning.

II.              The salvation of Christ (vs. 3-7)

Next let’s look at the right direction which is Jesus Christ.  Let’s look at verses 3 to 7. First in verse 3 the reason why they went the wrong direction is given.  God’s righteousness is an important theme of the Bible and runs consistently                     throughout the Old Testament.  That is how we mankind can be accepted by God, in other words, how we can be saved.  They didn’t know the salvation that God had prepared for them and tried to obtain salvation by themselves.  They didn’t follow God’s way of salvation. However, the Bible says, “All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23) Man was born as a sinner. If he opens his mouth, he curses and speaks bitterly.  It is like a poisonous snake spitting out poison everywhere.  This is because man has sin within him.  This is what mankind is like.  Therefore, man can never meet the demands of God.  Even if we were to outwardly completely follow the law, God who can see our hearts and thoughts would never be ale to accept us.     

Therefore we should not depend upon our own righteousness, but follow God’s righteousness, Jesus Christ. “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” (4) No matter how strong a will, no matter how high of morals, no matter how much steel like strength, none of these things can solve the power of sin, but Jesus through the cross, was able to do this.  This is the method that God prepared.  The methods of world were impossible, but God’s cross was the special method that God prepared.  By God having His only Son die on the cross, the price of each of our sins were paid on our behalf.  Therefore, we need to just believe that Jesus who died on the cross is our Savior and live depending upon him. God gave this only one way to be saved to the world


Jesus also said that through the cross Jesus was the only way to be saved.

John 14:6

However, mankind is stupid and thinks of other solutions.  Even though the road of the cross is the way to life, they try taking other roads.  For example, they compare themselves with other people. However, God does not grade on the curve.  Anyone who believes can go to heaven. Also if you do not repent and believe in Jesus Christ then you will go to hell.

Other people think that if they do good things they will be saved.

Romans 6:23

No matter how small a sin we sin, the result is death.  Doing just a little good won’t cover it. However, God by sending his Son to die on the cross, Christ took upon himself all of our sins. Therefore, we need to believe in Jesus who died in our place on the cross so that our sins would be forgiven.

III.            Depend on our Lord Jesus (vs. 8-13)

Therefore, the third point is to depend on our Lord Jesus.  Let’s look at verses8-13.

We need to only believe in the words of faith. If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, then you will be saved. In order to go to heaven, it is not necessary to strive to do many things, but to concentrate on Christ, and to believe from your heart the Gospel, and to confess with your lips. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (10) “It is with your heart that you believe” (10) means that you accept the Gospel, in other words, the salvation of Christ that God prepared in your heart. “With your mouth that you confess” means not to hide and clearly say what you believe.  Baptism is one way to do this.  In other words, this Gospel of Jesus’ cross is to be believed in with your whole heart.  This is not just by words.  It is not going around acting like a Christian. It is to respond with your whole self to the salvation that Jesus obtained by his life.  This is faith.  God gave Christ that through Him God gave us salvation and this the only way that we can be saved. There is no other way.  There is no difference between Jews and Greeks.  “The same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.” (12)  Anyone who calls upon him will be saved. ”Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (13)  What are you looking at as you live?  What are you zealous for?  Jesus Christ is our savior that God prepared so that we could be led to heaven.  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1) Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, concentrate on Him, and climb the stairs to Heaven one step at a time.