Dishonoring God’s Name

God has always made his will known to the world through a special group of people. During the Mosaic dispensation, this group was the Israelites, but now that we live in the age of Christianity, the knowledge of God’s will comes through Christians. We have the duty of spreading God’s word so that the world may learn how to receive justification through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:17; 10:17). This great responsibility, however, has to be carried out with care. Christians must have the proper disposition as they seek the lost and show them the path to salvation. If not, we run the risk of doing more harm than good. If our conduct does not align with what we teach, we could be charged with being hypocrites and with causing the lost to move farther away from God.

In Romans 2, Paul touches on this topic as he exposes the sinfulness of both Jews and Gentiles. He points out the Jews in particular for being hypocrites because, historically as God’s special people, they had knowledge of his law but did not live according to it (Rom. 2:17–20). He writes the following in verses 21–22:

21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

The Jews had a problem with hypocrisy, which Jesus pointed out during his ministry. He told the people to observe the things that the leaders taught but not to do as they did (Matt. 23:3). The scribes and Pharisees desired to have the appearance of piety; however, their hearts were not right. They used the law to oppress and take advantage of people, not to build them up with justice, mercy, and faith (Matt. 23:14; 23–28). They sought to elevate themselves, teaching the people to keep the law while they were breaking it.

We as Christians must be careful not to fall into this pattern, because the consequence will be condemnation for us and for those we try to convert. Notice that Paul says in verse 24, “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” The people of God had a serious problem with apostasy and hypocrisy, which throughout history has caused the nations around them to stumble (Mal. 2:8). We read about this in the Old Testament. The Israelites were so sinful that even the Gentiles were ashamed of their acts (Ezekiel 16:27:30):

27 “Behold, therefore, I stretched out My hand against you, diminished your allotment, and gave you up to the will of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. 28 You also played the harlot with the Assyrians, because you were insatiable; indeed you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. 29 Moreover you multiplied your acts of harlotry as far as the land of the trader, Chaldea; and even then you were not satisfied. 30 “How degenerate is your heart!” says the Lord God, “seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot.

They brought shame to the name of the Lord (Isa. 52:5; Ezek. 36:22):

Now therefore, what have I here,” says the Lord, “That My people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them make them wail,” says the Lord, “And My name is blasphemed continually every day.

22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.

Jesus accused the religious leaders of converting people and making them even worse than them because of their behavior (Matt. 23:15):

15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

These passages clearly show us the influence our behavior can have on the lost. We cannot expect to bring anyone to Christ if we do not hold to the things we preach. Surely, we make mistakes, but our general disposition should be that of godly people in order to be pleasing to God and to not cause others to stumble. Our conduct as a royal priesthood and holy nation must be honorable, so that when people look at us, they will glorify God because of our good works (1 Pet. 2:9–12).

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[COMMENTARY] Romans 2:1–16

This post is part of a series of essays based on my study of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. They are simply drafts and not intended to be well-polished essays. I would appreciate any constructive feedback.


Romans 2:1–16

Click here to read the passage.

After dealing with the sinfulness of the Gentiles, Paul then turns to the ones who judge—the Jews (See v. 17). They were hypocritical in that they judged the Gentiles for their sins, but yet they too were just as sinful (Matt. 7:1–5). They believed that they would not be held accountable for their actions because of their heritage and status of being God’s people. They took for granted the riches of God: goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering. Instead of living a life of repentance because of how good God was towards them, they continued to practice sin. Many today do not realize that the goodness of God is manifested in that he is patient with us—waiting for us to change our lives before he returns. He does not wish that anyone perish (2 Pet. 3:9,15), and therefore, he is waiting for all to repent (Rev. 2:21).

The Jews had hardened their hearts like the Gentiles, and they were storing up wrath for themselves. Their punishment would be justifiable because God had been merciful and gracious towards them. He renders to us according to the things we have done (Job 34:11; Ps. 62:12; Matt. 16:27). If we do good by seeking for glory, honor, and immortality, we will receive eternal life. If we are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, we will receive death. This warning is for everyone—Jews and Gentiles—because God shows no partiality.

He justifies those who do the law, not those who just hear it (Jas. 1:22,25). Although the Gentiles were not under the Law of Moses, they still fulfilled some of the requirements of the law instinctively, because these requirements were written on their hearts (See Genesis 12:14–20). Their conscience told them what was right and wrong according to God’s moral standard. Verses 12–15 indicate that Gentiles were able to sin, because there was a law that governed their thoughts and actions. We learn from the Scriptures that where there is a law, there is sin. However, where there is not a law, sin is not imputed (Rom. 5:13). Since all are under God’s law, Christ will judge all according to that law, which is the gospel.

Our Duty as Bondservants of Christ

The word “bondservant”—also translated as “slave”—comes from the Greek word doulos (Strong’s Greek Concordance #1401) and is used in the Bible in its literal sense to refer to a person in a position of servitude (1 Cor. 7:21). The duty of a bondservant is to be obedient and pleasing in all things to his master, and to be sincere and honest in his work (Eph. 6:5; Col. 4:22; 1 Tim. 6:1; Titus 2:9). The term is also used in the Scriptures metaphorically. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7:22, we read that the one who is called being a freedman becomes Christ’s slave; that is, he is a spiritual servant. Paul opens up his epistle to the Romans with this concept of spiritual enslavement that, as Christians, we must seek to emulate in our lives if we want to be obedient and pleasing to our master.

In his greeting to the Christians in Rome, Paul refers to himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1; See also Gal. 1:10, Phil. 1:1 and Titus 1:1). He had given up everything for Christ’s sake. He had studied under a highly honored teacher of the law (Acts 5:34; Acts 22:3). He considered himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews and a Pharisee of the Pharisees, being zealous and righteous according to his religion and heritage. However, he counted all as loss in order to serve Christ (Phil. 3:5–7). We see in Luke’s record that Christ had a plan for Paul (Acts 9:15–16):

“But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.’”

The Lord set Paul apart to carry out a special task, and Paul obeyed him as a servant would obey his master. The task involved being an apostle of Christ and preaching obedience to the gospel among the Gentiles (vv. 1 & 5). The Scriptures teach us that Paul fulfilled the requirements for his work as an apostle by being an eyewitness to the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 9:1, 15:3–10) and being chosen (Acts 9:15). We also learn that, after his conversion, Paul was zealous for proclaiming the word. He says in verses 14–16,

“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

This description of Paul as a bondservant also extends to all Christians. We too have to consider ourselves slaves to Christ.

Notice that Paul says in verse 6 that the Romans were the called of Christ. God calls all people by his gospel. In Romans 10, Paul explains that it is the word that produces faith, and that faith is what enables us to respond to the gospel in order to be saved (Rom. 10:8–17). He writes in chapter 1 that the gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). The Romans were not called only to obey the truth, but also to be saints, set apart by God (Rom. 1:7).

We as Christians have become God’s special people, and we have a special task that we must carry out as Christ’s bondservants, having been bought with a price (1 Cor. 7:23). Our duty is to proclaim the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). If we truly want to live as bondservants of Christ, we must be dedicated to the work of glorifying God and spreading the word about the forgiveness of sins through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We cannot be ashamed of the gospel, because without it, men cannot receive the free gift of salvation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to give up our will to carry out the will of God in the best way we can.

[COMMENTARY] Romans 1:1–17

This post is part of a series of essays based on my study of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. They are simply drafts and not intended to be well-polished essays. I would appreciate any constructive feedback.


Romans 1:1–17

Click here to read the passage.

The author of this epistle is Paul, and he is writing to Christians who are in the city of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. Paul considered himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ. The term “bondservant” is translated from the Greek word “doulos”, which means “slave”. However, the word is not to be taken in the negative sense, but rather as a condition in which one takes pleasure. Paul gave up his will to serve the will of Christ. He recognized that his duty was to be an apostle and to preach the gospel. He says in verse 1 that he was called for this work; that is, God invited him, setting him apart to be a vessel to preach the name of Christ to the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15; 13:2).

The promise of the gospel was declared by God through the prophets of the Old Testament, who were guided by the Holy Spirit. God declared that his son Jesus would come through the line of David and would have dominion over all. The promise was fulfilled when Christ was resurrected from the dead. Paul and the other apostles were appointed as ambassadors to preach obedience to the faith throughout the Gentile world. Notice in Acts 6:7 that, when the word of God was preached in Jerusalem, the church grew, and many of the priests were obedient to the faith. The gospel requires obedience. We are expected to obey the faith, thus showing that faith goes beyond belief—it involves action (Jas. 2:17–20). The gospel was preached among the Romans on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). Paul reminds them that they are also called to be saints. That is, they have received the invitation to be set apart. He mentions in verse 8 that their faith is spoken of throughout the world. The Romans were among those who repented and were baptized after hearing Peter’s gospel sermon. Their response to the sermon marks the point at which they were obedient to the faith (cf. Verse 5), which involved repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

Paul had not been to Rome since he was baptized at the time he was writing this letter. He would not arrive in Rome until much later when he requested an audience with Caesar after being arrested (Acts 25:11). He had the right to appeal to Caesar because he was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:25). The will of God did not permit Paul to go to Rome any sooner (v. 10). He desired to go to the Christians in Rome to impart to them some spiritual gift in order to strengthen and encourage them; however, “spiritual gift” does not refer to miraculous gifts from the Holy Spirit, but rather heavenly blessings received by the gospel by way of the word of God. He writes in chapter 11 that the Gentiles had been partakers of spiritual things (v. 27). Paul is referring to God’s grafting them in like the branches of a wild olive tree into a cultivated olive tree in order to partake of its root and richness. We can conclude therefore that “spiritual gift” refers to blessings that encourage a Christian. Paul desired to edify them (cf. Eph. 4:7–16) in order to bear fruit among them. However, he did want to bear fruit for his own account, but rather to bless them (cf. Phil. 4:17).

Being fruitful is to maintain good works and meet urgent needs among people (Titus 3:14). It is also preaching the gospel to the lost, which was Paul’s key mission (v. 15). In fact, preaching the gospel was more than his mission; it was an obligation. He believed that he was in debt to those to whom he had not preached or taught the word of God. Additionally, Paul was ready to preach the gospel at all times (2 Tim. 4:2) and never ashamed to do it (2 Tim. 1:18). He was passionate about preaching the gospel for a simple reason: “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (v. 16). The gospel is the power of God; that is, it is a work of God only. It effectuates salvation. Its intended result is to save souls. No other doctrines or philosophies can save man. This salvation was made possible to both Jews and Gentiles, and it continues to be possible for all humankind today. Salvation is for those who believe. God’s righteousness—which could refer to his intrinsic, personal righteousness or his imputed righteousness—is revealed in the gospel. The revelation of his righteousness is from faith, that is, the faithfulness of God (Rom. 3:3). Also, it is unto faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). For this reason, it is written in the Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament) that the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4). Righteous people live according to obedient faith (Rom. 1:5). They walk by faith, trusting in God and not leaning on their own understanding (2 Cor. 5:7). Some translations render the phrase as follows: “the just by faith shall live.” This version implies that we receive eternal life when we are justified by faith.

The Messianic Jonah: His Resurrection and His Church

In the Bible, we learn of a prophet named Jonah that was commanded by God to preach to the people of Nineveh so that they would repent from their evil ways and turn to the Lord (Jon. 1:2). The prophet did not want to obey this command; he knew that God would be gracious and merciful towards Nineveh if they repented (Jon. 4:2). Therefore, he decided to escape to Tarshish in an attempt to run from the presence of God (Jon. 1:3). His efforts, however, were in vain because God sent a violent storm while he was on a ship, and the only way to calm it was by throwing Jonah overboard into the sea (Jon. 1:4-15). God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah up, and he remained in its belly for three days and three nights (Jon. 1:17). During that time, Jonah prayed to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord heard his prayer and spoke to the fish, which then vomited Jonah out on to dry land (Jon 2). He then commanded him a second time to go preach to the people of Nineveh. This time Jonah obeyed and went into the city proclaiming the word of God (Jon 3:1-4). The people believed and repented of their wickedness. When God saw this, he had mercy on them and withheld his punishment (Jon 3:5-10). This account presents various themes, such as repentance, obedience, and the grace and mercy of God. But also noteworthy is how this story points to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the establishment of his church.

There are at least two passages in the Scriptures that show how this story served for Jews as a foretelling of the coming Messiah. In Matthew 12:38-41, Jesus spoke of the account of Jonah as being prophecy. The Pharisees and Scribes at this time were asking for a sign from Jesus as proof that he was truly the Messiah. Even though they had just seen him heal a man and cast out a demon, they demanded more evidence. Jesus called them out on their hypocrisy. They were able to look into the sky and predict the weather, but yet they closed their eyes to the evidence that Jesus was the Christ (Matt. 16:3). He told them that the only sign they would be given is that of the prophet Jonah. (Matt. 12:39-40, 16:4 English Standard Version): “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Jesus was referring to his death, burial, and resurrection.

We learn that the account of Jonah served as a prophecy also from Psalm 16:10-11. When Jonah was in the belly of the fish, he cried out to the Lord with a prayer that was very similar to the prophetic psalm of David:

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice” (Jon. 2:2).

“I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God” (Jon. 2:6).

“For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” (Ps. 16:10).

Both Jonah and David spoke of being cast into Sheol, which according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, refers to Hades – the grave or the abode of the dead. However, God would deliver them from that pit. Jonah was indeed delivered when the Lord made the fish vomit him out onto dry land. Note also that Christ spoke of overcoming death, or Sheol/Hades, when he proclaimed that he would establish his church upon Peter’s confession that he was the Son of God (Matt. 16:16-18):

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell (NKJV: Hades) shall not prevail against it.

The book of Jonah, the sixteenth psalm of David, and the proclamation made by Jesus in Matthew 16 show that Jesus would die, be buried, and be raised after three days. His resurrection would prove that he was the Messiah and would establish his church. The fulfillment of this prophecy is seen in Matthew 27:57-28:15. Jesus was buried in a tomb, and after three days, God raised him from the dead:

59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away (Matt. 27:59).

1Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said (Matt. 28:1-6).

Peter himself knew that the prophecy had been fulfilled, and thus preached it on the day of Pentecost in the first gospel sermon in which he cited the words of David from Psalm 16:10-11:

25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence’ (Acts 2:25-28).

David foresaw and spoke forth the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Messiah was not abandoned in Hades, and his soul did not see corruption. He is now sitting at the right hand of God, and his church has been established (Acts. 2:31-33, 47).

As Christians, we must believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and not be like the Sadducees, who denied that there was such thing as a resurrection (Matt. 22:23). If there is no resurrection, then our preaching and faith are in vain, and we are still in our sins (1 Cor. 15:12-19). For the alien sinner there is no hope of salvation without the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:11-13). The people of Nineveh were saved from condemnation because they believed the preaching of Jonah and repented. At the judgment, their repentance will condemn the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time because he was much greater than Jonah, but yet they did not believe his preaching (Matt. 12:41). The same will happen to those who do not believe the preaching of the gospel today.

Simply believing, however, will not save you. It is true that the preaching of the gospel produces faith (Rom. 10:17), but it also brings about obedience (Rom. 16:26). Notice in Acts 2:37, after the people heard that they had crucified the Messiah, they were pricked to their hearts. They asked Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do?” Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” What we see here is that you have to be baptized in order for your sins to be forgiven. A type of baptism is observed in Jonah being plunged into the sea: “the waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head” (Jon. 2:5). He was completely submerged in the water and was later pulled out by God. Paul spoke of baptism as a figure of Christ’s burial and resurrection in his letter to the Romans. According to chapter 6, verses 1-11, we emulate in baptism the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The submersion in water marks our death to sin (vv. 6-7), and when we are pulled out, it is our resurrection to newness of life (Rom. 7:6; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:23-24; Col. 3:10) by the powerful working of God (2 Cor. 13:4; Col. 2:12; Tit. 3:5). We escape spiritual death; that is, death no longer has dominion over us. And as the church, the gates of Hades cannot prevail against us!

Our Individual Commitment to the Body

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:12-13, 27‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts‬ ‭2:42‬ ‭ESV‬‬).

Continue reading “Our Individual Commitment to the Body”

Love Those Who Hate You

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God is merciful, gracious, and patient. Even though we don’t deserve it, he blesses us anyway. He makes the rain fall and the sun shine on the just and the unjust, and he expects us to be like him in this respect. Therefore, we can’t love just the people that love us; we also have to love those that hate and persecute us, which is the real challenge. Christ came to this earth to die so that we all could have the opportunity of salvation and be reconciled with God, and he did it even though we were his enemies. Since he did that great work for us, we should learn how to forgive our enemies and love them even when they hate us. I pray that God would help us through his word to learn how to be merciful, gracious, and patient with others.

By Grace (God’s Part) Through Faith (Man’s Part)

“who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,” (2 Tim. 1:9-10)

God offered salvation to all mankind according to his grace and by the death of Jesus Christ even before the beginning of time. No work of man could have brought about salvation since mankind had not been created at the time God devised his plan. However, salvation is not by grace only; it is by grace through faith. Some say salvation depends solely on God. If this affirmation were true, we would have to conclude that God has grace and faith, which is impossible. He is omniscient – all knowing, and thus, does not have faith. According to Hebrews 11:1, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Man is who has faith, and therefore, we conclude that man must appropriate God’s grace through faith: “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). We cannot be saved without faith because it is impossible to please God without it. We must believe that he exists, and that he rewards those who diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6). The word of God teaches that, despite the fact that salvation is a gift of God, both man and God have a part to play in order for man to be saved because faith is a requirement that must be fulfilled by man.

If man is saved through his faith in God who has offered his grace, it is important to understand what faith is. As mentioned, it is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Faith is having confidence in our hope of salvation and being convicted about the things that we do not see, such as the existence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. When God commands us to do something, although we do not understand it completely or see the connection, we must do it in order to please him. Faith is not just believing, but taking action according to the word of God. In Hebrews 11:6-30, we are presented with many examples of people who manifested their faith in the actions that they carried out: by faith, Noah prepared an ark; by faith, Abraham obeyed and offered up Isaac; by faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau; by faith, Jacob blessed each of his sons and worshipped; by faith, Joseph gave instructions; by faith, Moses suffered affliction with the people of God, forsook Egypt, kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of the blood; by faith, the people of God passed through the Red Sea by dry land; by faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled seven times; by faith, the harlot Rahab did not perish because she received the spies with peace. All of these people obeyed God and took action. They had obedient faith, not inactive belief (cf. Rom. 16:26).

Since faith is understood as obedience to the commandments of God, we must know what God’s commandments are concerning salvation. We learn about salvation by hearing the preaching and teaching of the gospel or by studying the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-11; Rom. 10:17). The message of the gospel is expressed in simple terms. God manifested himself in human form, and dwelt among us as Jesus Christ. Although he lived just like us, he fulfilled all righteousness and committed no sin (Matt. 3:15; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22). The very people he came to save crucified him unjustly, and his blood was spilled in order for man to receive forgiveness of sin (Matt. 26:27-28; John 1:1, 14; 1 Tim. 3:16). This sacrifice was an act of grace, which is God’s part. Now, we must do our part and appropriate that grace through faith by being obedient to the commandments of God. We must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Rom. 10:8-9), repent of our past sins (Acts 17:30-31), and be baptized or immersed in water (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16). As a result, we receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the Lord adds us to his church (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; cf. Matt. 16:18). We come to see that, as we rightly divide the word of God (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15), these are the commandments of God concerning salvation.

Many reject the plain and simple teachings of the Bible, and manipulate God’s word in order to formulate their own false doctrines (2 Cor. 11:13-15). They deceive themselves (cf. 2 Tim. 3:13) by believing that they have no role in their own salvation. Logically, this kind of doctrine takes all the responsibility off of them. Whether they are saved or lost would not be their fault, but rather God’s. They state that man is saved by grace through faith without understanding what faith truly is. They also deny the essentiality of baptism, and repentance for that matter, in the plan of salvation. However, when one studies the Scriptures with an open and honest heart, it is difficult to deny that God has devised a plan based on his matchless grace and man’s obedient faith.

A Brief Note on Romans 8:28-30

Romans 8:28-30

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The foreknowledge of God in Romans 8:29 simply means that God knew something before the beginning of time. This particular text shows that he knew before time those who would love him, which are those who keep his commandments (John 14:15-21; 2 John 1:6). He predestined those who love him to be conformed to the image of Christ. “Predestined” means that he has a destiny for all men to be like Christ, that is, to be Christians. This idea of predestination differs from that of Calvinistic thought in which the passage is interpreted as if there were a specific group of people elected to be saved and another group to be lost. The Bible clearly teaches that ALL men have been predestined. John 3:16 says, “[f]or God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The term “world” refers to the inhabitants of the earth, and not just some, but all. We know that God gave his only son for all of us because 2 Peter 3:9 says that he does not wish that any man should perish but that ALL come to repentance. God did not send his son to condemn the world, but that the world be saved through his son (John 3:17).

However, although he destined us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless like Christ (Eph. 1:4), only a few decide to go along with God’s plan. Many are called, but because of their unrighteousness, few are chosen (Matthew 20:16, 22:14). That is why it is important that we work out our soul salvation (Philippians 2:12). We are called to obey, and in that obedience, we are saved (2 Thess. 1:8). Think about it this way – the Israelites were God’s chosen people (Exodus 6:7; Deut. 4:20, 7:6, 14:2); however, they chose to live according to their own desires, not following the law that God had given them (Jeremiah 9:13ff):

13 And the Lord says: “Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, 14 but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. 16 I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.”

God gave them the freedom to choose between him and other gods. Unfortunately, in many instances, they desired to worship other gods in spite of the fact that they were God’s chosen people. The same happens today in Christianity. God has chosen all of us, not just some of us, and he predestined a plan, which is the gospel. This plan of salvation was in the mind of God before the world began (Rom. 16:25; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:9); it is the great mystery that has been revealed to us (1 Tim. 3:16). He manifested himself in the flesh as Jesus Christ and died for the sins of all mankind so that we could have the opportunity to be reconciled with him (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Rom. 5:10-11; Eph. 2:11-18). Now he has left it up to us to choose to obey him (Rom. 16:26). Unfortunately, many will turn away from God and decide to not.