Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Corporate nature of the new and old man (part 1)

It was almost 10 years ago that I first understood the verse from Ephesians 2, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus...." There were two things that struck me. First we are his workmanship, we are his work. Like a craftsman with his tools we are formed according to his will. And just like any piece created by a master craftsman, his style, his characteristics, his touch is found in the created piece. This workmanship is not the workmanship of God when he created man at the beginning (although also in that creation we carry his style) but rather his workmanship when he created us in Christ Jesus. And that was the second thing which I noted, our place of creation. We are created in Christ Jesus. In fact it is a necessity for all to be created in Christ Jesus. Later in 2 Corinthians 5 Paul (by the Spirit) writes it like this, "therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come." We are created in Christ, we are a new creation, we are born again. A weakness in modern teaching is that poor needy souls are told to hold on the promises of Scripture, they must be new because the Scripture says so. But in reality they remain just as they were, old not new, struggling just as before. Those around them convince them that they are new and they struggle on, often to despair. It is God's will that you become new. He wants to create you new, in Christ Jesus. We wants to work and labour to produce a new thing. He wants to. He loves to. He sent His son so he could.

Having seen the power of a second creation, I read on... In verse 15 of Ephesians 2 it is written, "... that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace." A new man, a new type of man, one that has peace with God. What great promises. But I had a question, why just one new man? Why didn't the Spirit say something like, "... create in himself one new man, the first of many new men, who have peace..." Why only one new man?

That is what we will look at in our next study.



Friday, November 25, 2005

Introduction to Romans (Part 2)

What else can we learn about Paul's letter to the Romans? It seems that Paul was in Greece when he wrote the letter, most likely in Corinth. This can be seen from two comments: (1) Phoebe of neighboring Cenchrea was apparently the letter-bearer (16:1-2) and (2) Gaius, who is Paul’s host (16:23), was a prominent Christian leader at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:14).

"Ga'ius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Eras'tus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you. " (Romans 16:23, RSV)

"I am thankful that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Ga'ius; (1 Corinthians 1:14, RSV)"

Robertson puts it like this: "Crispus was the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth before his conversion (Acts 18:8), a Roman cognomen, and Gaius a Roman praenomen, probably the host of Paul and of the whole church in Corinth (Ro 16:23), possibly though not clearly the hospitable Gaius of 3Jo 1:5,6. The prominence and importance of these two may explain why Paul baptized them."

From Romans 15:26, it appears Paul had already received contributions from the churches of Macedonia and Achaia (where Corinth was located). Which ties in with Acts 19:21 "Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedo'nia and Acha'ia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome."

In summary, Paul wrote the letter to the Romans to 1) To announce Paul’s plans to visit Rome after his trip to Jerusalem. 2) To present a complete and detailed statement of the gospel message. Paul wanted "to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome" (1:15). 3) To answer the questions that naturally arose among the Jewish and the Gentile Christians at Rome like what does the gospel do to the Law and such Old Testament rites like circumcision? And what about the Jew? Has God set the Jew aside? And so on.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Introduction to Romans (part 1)

The letter to the Romans is one of the most profound but yet systematic books of the New Testament. Written around 57AD it is unique amongst the other letters which Paul wrote. First, at the time of writing, Paul had never been to Rome ("asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you." [Romans 1:10]). But yet he knew so many of the people in the church in Rome. Looking at chapter 16 we see a long list of friends who Paul greets by name.

How did Paul know so many people there. One reason is to do with the history of Rome. The church in Rome was founded by Jews who heard the gospel and received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. They returned to Roman and started meeting together. Then Gentiles where added to their number. Later however emperor Claudius ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. We find this in Acts 18:2: "And he (Paul) found a Jew named Aq'uila, a native of Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them." There were probably others from Rome also there. In the list of greetings in Romans 16 we find Prisca and Aq'uila again (verse 3) this time having returned from Rome after the death of Claudius around 54AD.

The church in Rome started with Jewish converts and Jewish eldership. Gentiles were added and then the Jews left. For that period the church was exclusively Gentile. Then later the Jews came back. With this in mind it is interesting to read Romans and look what Paul has to say about Jews and Gentiles. For example:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16, RSV)

"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God." (Romans 3:2, RSV)

But yet... "He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God." (Romans 2:29, RSV)

In many ways the letter to the Romans is a systematic look at the gospel from the point of view of the Jew and the Gentile. Ultimately it breaks downs the barriers between the two, showing that there is but one type of man in Christ, neither Jew nor Gentile but rather the new man.

Part 2 soon...



Tuesday, November 22, 2005

He is faithful

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9, RSV)

If we confess our sins... The word confess here is good but it it has another dimension to it. Depending on your background confession can mean different things. Confession to a priest or a pastor. Public confession to the whole congregation. But really the word here means acknowledge. If we recognize our sin, if we agree with God's declaration about our sin the he will do something.

...he is faithful... somethings we read this sub consciously as he is obliged or he is required. Salvation is by the grace of God. We can't earn it, we can't pay for it and God isn't obligated to give it to us. However he has promised that if we align ourselves with Him, if we recognize what he has done. If we trust only in Him for salvation not in ourselves. If we place our eternal future only in his hand. Then he is faithful to forgive. He is faithful to save. By grace, not by works so that God is no ones debtor.

...he is just... this forgiveness isn't a slight of hand, it is a trick where God says "he is forgive because I say so." But rather God is justbecause Jesus Christ took the punishment for me.

Matthew Henry writes like this: Sin exists in the soul in forms: (1.) In guilt, which requires forgiveness or pardon. (2.) In pollution, whichrequires cleansing.

God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us. Fully? Yes. From ALL unrighteousness. Not just some. That full work includes cleansing. You can be clean, fully. Clean from all unrighteousness and God by his Spirit can keep you that way.



Monday, November 21, 2005


I was laying in bed and last night and I realised that I do a lot of preaching and teaching and that I don't record or note much of it. So I said to myself, "Gary it is time to start a blog like millions of others before you." So here it is!

The idea is that I will note briefly the last sermon or study I did. Maybe I will be only one that every reads this... Who knows... If someoneelse does, I hope they will be blessed by them.