On page 278, in speaking about what the book of Romans is arguing about, the authors exclaim that, "For Paul, the good news was so good because the bad news was so bad. What is the bad news? All people are cut off from God and subject to eternal judgment because of their built-in tendency to ignore who he really is and to turn away from him." Romans 1:18-23 talks about the people Paul had to deal with in his time. It's amazing how "now" the Bible is today. Even today, we have those who can't see the forest for the trees. They are so wise that they can't see the truth for the lie.
The author's remark tells me that the bad news was so bad because people can't believe in God, even though they may sense or "know" that there is a God in heaven. The heavens declare the glory of God, but they are so busy admiring God's handiwork that they can't see God through the science. In Romans 1:22 (While claiming to be wise, they became fools (GW)) we read about our scientists of yesterday and today. It's amazing that they were fools then, and they are fools now, for studying the heavens and the earth below without seeing the real truth of a God who created it all. They can look at the decay of the world, see how bad things are, and, yet, still believe that man can solve all the earth's problems. They look at the evil of man, see it growing, and, yet, believe that we can fix ourselves. Again, it's amazing to me how, after 2000 years, man can see just how bad things are in a world where the good news of Christ is preached, and, yet, still not see the cross for the trees it came from, and, yet, believe that the best news of all is the worst news they've ever heard. No wonder God picks the meek over the foolish. I'd rather be dumb and saved, than smart and lost.
On page 315, the author's remark about Paul's conduct in his letter to the Philippian church, "Here as often elsewhere in the New Testament (and in church history), God's people appear to be out of step with God's kingdom. Yet Paul does not lash out or despair. Instead, he points to Jesus Christ." Paul always pointed to Christ because he knew, as we all do, that our egos and non-divine personalities will always try to interpret what God has said with human minds, in which case we will always get it wrong. If we could all only be like Paul was when we come across Christians who do not yet have it all down correctly. Paul did not lash out because he, "being the worst of all sinners", knew that he had no right to. He was once just as guilty as those he wrote to and visited. Paul must have learned in the three years before he actually started his ministry trips that even he had to grow spiritually and that it can take some longer than others to understand what the kingdom of God is all about. Also, I believe, that having once being a Pharisee who once persecuted Christians that there will be people, like he once was, that will try to always put a human spin on the gospel of Jesus Christ and lead others astray. Paul's many experiences, both as a Pharisee against Christ, and as a saved man for Christ, gave him the knowledge he needed to preach the word correctly. We should never underestimate the power of our past experiences when it comes to using them to preach the word. Together with the word they can be the most powerful tool we have to reach others for Christ. Paul did it, and look at how fast the church grew.
On page 318, the authors talk about the word "firstborn' and its meaning in regards to Jesus Christ. In Hebraic-Jewish it means "specially honored." This meaning can also be used to speak of the firstborn of Christ. I'm sure that some of us grew up with parents who never told us they loved us or that we were worthy of that love. This may have been because they were made to feel the same way by their parents. Generational curses are a nasty thing. It's a shame that we all couldn't "find" Jesus when we were young, then we would have grown up knowing that we were truly loved by the one Person we grew up never thinking would or could love us. As a firstborn of Christ, we have an honored position as God's children. Because we have given Jesus our lives and hearts, we have been placed above those who haven't yet done so. According to the Bible, we should never think of ourselves as better than other people, but God doesn't have to follow that rule because He already is above all creation, therefore, He can place upon us the status of specially honored because we are His. Now, if we could just get through to those who don't believe in God's love.
Elwell, Walter A., Yarbrough, Robert W. (1998, 2005). Encountering the new testament: a historical and theological survey 2 ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Scripture marked (GW) is taken from GOD'S WORD, 1995 God's Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
Comment: "I think that contemporary readers of Paul's time were incredibly encouraged by Paul's epistles, depending on what side of the fence they were on, so to speak. If they were of the old school and still did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, then I would imagine, as it talks of many times, they were enraged."
Author Response: I just finished reading "The Jesus I Never Knew" by Philip Yancey. Throughout the book, Yancey describes the Jewish Jesus and who He really was to those of His time, not the super-gentle, nice, watered-down Jesus most think of Him today. Yancey shares his views on how he saw Jesus growing up from those who taught him about this 20th century Jesus. If you've never read the book it will open your eyes to the real Jesus the Jews saw and listened to. Jesus was considered a rebel in those times because He went against the religious and governmental orders of the day. The Jews were expecting a Warrior King, and what did they get: a "king" who allowed Himself to be so easily captured and killed. They expected Jesus to fight back against the Romans for them. They expected freedom from Rome and all they got was another "false" prophet. It's amazing how the learned Jews of the day couldn't see the prophecies being fulfilled before them. They knew the scriptures, but did they really? Question is: are most people today who say they know what the Bible says any different than those who couldn't see Jesus as the prophesied Savior? There are too many Bibles gathering dust on the tops of too many bedroom dressers and hallway closets.
Comment: "It says on (p.333) that, "Believers should rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer indignity for Christ's sake." That saying stood out to me because w all should rejoice and understand what the big picture actually is and that is Christ."
Author Response: I am now reading a book by Charles Swindoll called "Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit." It is a great book that teaches a ot about Paul the man and his writings, and his walk with the Lord. Swindoll takes you through the book of Acts and shows you the life of Paul through the eyes of scripture. You would be surprised at how much Paul began to suffer right after Ananias touched him and his blindness went away. Swindoll does a very good job in teaching about those years before Saul became Paul; those years before Saul went to Jerusalem to meet the Apostles. Swindoll explains how Saul was greatly humbled from the bold Pharisee he was to the most humble man, other than Jesus, who walked the planet. This is at least the fourth time I have read this book since I was saved 14 years ago. You should check out all of Swindoll's books in the Great Lives from God's word. You will learn a lot and understand even more why God chose these people, and what made them great for God.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.
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