Romans 13-16: It's Time to Wake Up!

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.

So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

 

Romans 13:11-14, NIV

 

One of the things that I like about reading the Word of God is that it gets right to the point. In the case of the passage above, Paul simply points out that it is later than we think. Therefore, it is time to wake up and get to the work that God has put us here to do.

 

In order to accomplish that, we are going to have to stop sinning. In addition to sin's other harmful attributes, it has a way of distracting us from the task at hand. It's like a really cool video game in the hands of a bored adolescent (whether that "adolescent" be fifteen or fifty). Anyone who has ever been involved in such activities knows that they can be very absorbing. They have a way of making time seem to stand still when in fact it is flying by. Just ask any teenager who decided to play "just one last game" before studying for that big test how much time can actually be wasted. Ask the same teenager after going to the test unprepared because of his play time and, if he is honest, he will admit that he could have made better use of his time.

 

Now, compare that to Paul's inspired instructions above. He warns us that our time is indeed running out, that our salvation is nearer now than we first believed. How devastating this will be for those who had planned on getting prepared for the Judgment, only to find out that they had frittered their time away on sinful pursuits. Of course, one of the saddest things about this harmful effect of sin is that it not only takes away time that we could have been preparing ourselves, but also time away from helping others achieve their goal of salvation. So, what's the point?

 

Wake up, before it's too late!

 

The readings for the next few days will be from the final four chapters of Romans. They are chock full of ways in which we may better prepare ourselves for the life we were created for.

Romans 8-12: What is Separating Us from God?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39, KJV

 

When you think about all the things that could go wrong in life, it appears that more than a fair share of them have in recent years. We have seen people seeming to do everything from lying, cheating and stealing to gain power in our nation. We have seen a modern day plague that has shut down industry and separated close friends all over the world. In the small community that I live in we have seen historic droughts that have threatened the livelihoods of so many.

 

That's a lot to deal with, and these things are barely the tip of the iceberg when you consider some of the true struggles and heartbreaks that many are experiencing. When you add them all up, it seems that there are a lot of things that could separate us from God, and indeed many will allow the hardships of life to take their focus off of God and onto the things of this world.

 

But, it doesn't have to be that way. We do not have to let life's challenges separate us from God, that is the point of what Paul writes above. As a matter of fact, Paul mentions a key fact in this passage that so many seem to miss: It is the love of God that we cannot be separated from. For the trials of life have always raged and far too many have allowed these difficulties to help take their eyes off of God. But it should not happen and it will not happen...

 

unless we let it! For the fact remains, whether in the challenging times in which Paul lived or the difficulties that men face in their own eras, that these difficulties are not powerful enough to separate us from the love of God. 

 

If the times that you have been going through have seemed trying, it is likely because they truly are - that's not the point. The point is that they are not trying enough to separate us from God and Christ unless we let them. So, if you have been feeling that your relationship with God has been waning, whose fault is it? We might be tempted to say God for letting these things happen to us in the first place, but we would be wrong, for we are promised that there is nothing so bad that we could be removed from the presence of God and His love for us. 

 

And this promise will sustain us through all of life's challenges, if we will let it. What is separating you from the love of God? 

 

The readings for the next few days is from the 8th through 12th chapters of Romans. They contain many of the secrets to helping us not only survive life's difficulties, but actually thrive during times that would otherwise tempt us take our eyes off of the only One that can truly rescue us.

Romans 6-8: Grace, Christ's Sacrifice & Baptism

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Romans 6:1-8, ESV

 

This short passage in Romans chapter 6 contains some of the most important teachings in all of Scripture. It reveals that we cannot use grace as an excuse to go on sinning. It shows that baptism is not some archaic rite that has no place in modern religion, rather, that it is required for everyone desiring to take part in the resurrection. And, it shows the vital role of the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

 

Perhaps no other passage so completely demonstrates the relationship between God's grace, Jesus' death, and our baptism. It would be dangerous indeed to try and take out any of these items - grace, sacrifice, or baptism - for it is the combination of these three that allow us to be born again, to have our sins forgiven, and to have the hope of eternal life. It would be a great mistake for anyone to minimize or try to eliminate any one of these, for by doing so they risk losing out on the new birth, forgiveness of sin, and the resurrection.

 

I continue to be amazed at the simplicity of God's Word and His plan for us. He reveals so clearly His role, Jesus' role, and our role in salvation. How could anyone miss it? Who but God could have come up with such a perfect plan? Isn't it wonderful that we have the Bible to read so that we might find out about that plan so that we might live forever! 

 

The reading for the next few days is from the 6th through the 8th chapters of Romans. Read them carefully, for they contain the words of life!

Romans 2-5: All Have Sinned... What Now?

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 3:23-24, ESV

 

I believe that one of the most important truths in all of the Bible is contained in this short passage. It reveals that everyone has sinned, and that the result of this sin is a falling short of God's glory.

 

Just think about the significance of that: We all know what it is like to have fallen short of something important. Whether it is something as inconsequential as a shot falling short in that "big game", or something as vital as a thrown life preserver falling short of the grip of a man who is drowning, falling short means failure. And failing in achieving the glory that God wants us to share with Him would be unbearable!

 

That's where grace comes in!

 

Grace is God's plan for helping us to never fall short of salvation. If you will, grace is our second chance at salvation. Even though we have sinned and blown our opportunity, God gives us another chance. Note also just where this grace comes by: It is through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus! In other words, the grace of God is combined with the sacrifice of Christ that, in effect, has redeemed us for that second chance.

 

Think for a moment all that went into giving us that second chance, and I believe you will agree that it came at a very, very high price. Though we have sinned, God gives us His grace because Jesus died for our sins! And while many people will never take advantage of this second chance, it is there for the taking for those who have the wisdom to do so.

 

Of course, this second chance at redemption will not come without effort on our part. Just as the drowning man has to do everything within his power to grab the life preserver when it is thrown his way, we still have to obey God's plan of salvation and then live our life for Him. But that is a small price indeed to pay for something as great as being given a second chance at an eternity in the presence of God's magnificent glory!

 

The reading for these next few days is from Romans 2-5. These chapters tell us all about the great things God and Christ have done for us to make sure we know what is needed to take advantage of our second chance.

 

 

Romans 1: We Can Know For Sure!

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:18-20, ESV

 

One of the most comforting things about God is that He has made known Who He is in a way that cannot be reasonably misunderstood. Why is that important?

 

Just think about how many religions exist in this world. Think about how many "gods" people have worshipped since the beginning of time. With all of these religions and all of these so-called "gods" how is it that men can be sure?

 

God answers this question by saying that the answer as to Who God is, is actually woven into the very fabric of His creation. Paul's claim above is that what can be known about God has been made plain. It is plain because God's attributes are clearly seen by the things that God has made. In other words, a person cannot look at all of the complexity and depth and beauty of this universe and justifiably conclude that it just happened. While this idea of the universe "just happening" is the very essence of the teaching of evolution without God, in God's eyes, men who buy into that mistaken belief are without excuse.

 

Whenever I am studying with someone who is not sure whether there is a God or not, I encourage them to put this inspired statement by Paul in Romans 1:18-20 to the test. Does it really make sense that this world could have just happened by some sort of a cosmic accident? If so, where did the materials come from that were needed for such an "accident"? I believe that when a person honestly looks at this world that we live in, they cannot reasonably conclude that it just happened. Once a person realizes this truth, it is enough then for them to then begin their search for the one true God.

 

And there is certainly enough evidence presented by God to allow people to make the right choice. Even in a world with countless claims about multiple religions and a multitude of "gods". In fact, if the words of Paul are indeed inspired by the one true God (and I am convinced that an honest person can come to no other logical conclusion) then anyone who believes in a different God or a different religion is, at least in God's opinion (the only opinion that counts), without excuse. This is why we read!

 

Today's reading is from Romans chapter one. It is a faith-building chapter indeed!