Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Begotten Not Made

Begotten is a word that seems to have lost its meaning and significance in today's culture. So what exactly does this word mean? Webster's dictionary defines beget as "to procreate as the father." Human beings beget fellow human beings. All of creation, plants and animals beget after their own kind. Thus, through procreation, we each beget our own kind.

When it comes to God, the same is true. The begotten of God is also God. God begets God after His own kind. When speaking of Jesus, He is described in Scripture as the only begotten Son of God. In Psalm 2:7, God says this about His Son, "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee." Jesus is described in the gospel of John as "the only begotten from the Father" (1:14) and "the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father." (1:18) Thus, Jesus as the only begotten Son of God is God Himself.

At the birth of Christ, it is clear that Jesus was begotten, not made. The angel of the Lord visited Joseph in a dream and told him, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 1:20) The word translated "conceived" is literally begotten in the Greek, meaning "that which was [begotten] in [Mary] is of the Holy Spirit." God the Father beget Jesus the Son of God through the Holy Spirit of God. God begets God. Jesus is our Immanuel, "God with us." (Matthew 1:23)

The use of the word "begotten" to describe Jesus' birth is a very important distinction to be made because it affirms the deity of Jesus Christ. As human beings we are God's creation and are not begotten of God. Genesis 1:27 says, "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Thus, while we bear the image of God, we are not God, but rather His "very good" creation. (Genesis 1:31) God created human beings, but He begot Jesus, the one and only Son of God.

There are numerous false religions that teach that Jesus was the greatest created being of God, but not God Himself. For example, both Mormonism and Jehovah's Witness make this claim. We must be careful to know the Jesus who is as revealed in Scripture, not the Jesus we craft in our own image. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and the fullness of deity dwells in Him (John 3:16, Colossians 1:15-16,2:9. "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power." (Hebrews 1:3a)

The Nicene Creed reads, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made."

In this season where we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let's remember who He is and celebrate the greatest gift the world as ever seen -- God's gift of Himself, His only begotten Son, for the salvation of the world!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Mind of Christ

Statistics say that less than half of all Americans are satisfied with their jobs. However, in light of the recent economy, I think most people are satisfied with simply having a job!

Stop and think about your job approval ranking when it comes to your spiritual life. How would you rate your satisfaction level at present in your Christian life? Would God approve of where you're at right now? Are you moving toward Him or have you settled in to a comfortable place?

I grew up in typical American Christian home. My family went to church each Sunday. We said our prayers before mealtimes and at bedtime. I always tried to live a good moral life. But honestly, my relationship with God was very shallow and consisted mostly of a few hours on Sunday mornings. My childhood was consumed with competitive sports and most of my heroes were athletes. At the age of 18 and nearing the end of my junior year in high school, I was a straight A student, playing high school basketball, a leader in the youth group and living a life that by most standards was very successful. I believed in Jesus, but Jesus was not at the center of my life. Through athletics though, I became involved with Fellowship of Christian athletes. I remember one night hearing the testimony of a girl I really liked. To hear her talk so passionately about Jesus being her Savior struck me to the core of my being. I realized in that moment that the way she knew Jesus was not at all the way I knew Him. For her, Jesus was her life, but for me, He was just the hero of Christianity who died on the cross so I could go to heaven when I died. That night God began to work on my heart and change the way I thought about Him.

In reading through the Bible, we find out everything we need to know about ourselves. First and foremost, we learn that God is personal and loves each and every one of us. He is also actively involved in the lives of His creation. We were created intentionally, for a specific purpose and our lives have meaning and value. We are God's workmanship. But we also read that as a people, we do not want to have anything to do with God. Isaiah 53:6 states, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way." Now from everything I've heard about sheep, they are not the brightest of God's creation and that analogy holds true when it comes to humanity intentionally straying away from the very God who created us. We openly rebel against the God who made us and this is sin. The Bible plainly states that all are guilty of sin and the problem with sin is it always yields death and separation from God. Paul describes very candidly the plight of all humanity (Ephesians 2:1-3), "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." We don't like to hear or think that about ourselves, but it is true. We live in a world that says that humanity is essentially good, but the Bible does not teach that at all.

The good news for all of us is that God did not leave us without hope. He reached out to us in love. The very next verse provides this hope with two beautiful words -- "But God." He writes, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." While humanity had its back turned on God, God in His love sought us out, seeking to reconcile all of creation back to Himself and restore what was lost by sin. He made reconciliation possible through the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the penalty of sin, for all people, for all time with His substitutionary death on the cross, and then rose again from death, proving Himself to be a trustworthy Savior. The response to this good news is to believe it, namely to trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. As Paul continues in verses 8 and 9 of Ephesians, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." His gift of eternal life is available to all who believe in Him. There is no distinction. "It is the power of God for salvation to all who believe." This is the good news known as the gospel of Jesus Christ, a message each of us who have believed it are responsible for sharing with others within our sphere of influence.

Now, I'm afraid that in American Christian culture, we conveniently like to stop here. We like the idea of receiving the gift of eternal life and definitely want to spend eternity with God in heaven after death. You'd be a fool not to, right? But the Bible has so much more to say about our new life in Christ and much of what is said makes the old self uncomfortable. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." Before Christ, we only knew the old things, but after regeneration in Christ, new things have come alive. We are a new creature.

Now here is where the rub comes. We have been set free from sin by the work of Christ on the cross. But how will we use this new found freedom? The truth is we get to choose how we live, and oh and by the way, we are held accountable for our choice. We have two choices -- we can continue to pattern our lives after the old things, which is natural to us but continues to yield death and or we can begin living as new creations in Christ which is supernatural to us and yields life. The second choice is obviously the best, but it is the most costly choice to us personally. It means we must die to ourselves and the life we want to live. It means that we decide to do things God's way and not our way anymore. It means we choose to live life differently than we have lived it before we knew Christ. Paul wrote about the expected Christian response after salvation, "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." The Christian is compelled by the love of God to live out the new life, a life that is characterized with daily dying to self and giving up our life in exchange for living a new life of living sacrifice for His bidding and His will. Jesus clearly communicated what was expected of His followers, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

How are you doing in this? Are you willing to make such a sacrifice in light of the sacrifice Christ made for you? Fortunately for us, Christ does not ask us to do anything that He didn't already do and in fact, He modeled the kind of life God expects each of us to live. We were meant to live a life completely dependent upon God.

Now, I want to turn our focus to one specific aspect of our lives that we often don't think about enough -- our thought life. It doesn't get more personal than this. Ask yourself -- What dominates my thought life? What am I putting into my mind most often? Who or what do I think about most often? Who controls my mind?

Paul wrestled with the two selves in Romans 7 and arrived at this conclusion in verse 24 and 25, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin." Paul purposed to serve God with His mind, knowing at the same time his flesh naturally served the law of sin. The truth is that the flesh craves sin. To resist sin is to suffer in the flesh. When you intentionally deprive yourself of sin, you are suffering in the flesh. Peter said it this way, "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God." The exchange is the lusts of men (our will) for the will of God. But just depriving ourselves of sin is not the answer. We must also intentionally feed ourselves at the same time. Jesus offers us daily bread and living water! But how specifically do we feed our spirit? One key way is by daily feeding our mind and consuming regularly the things of God.

Read carefully through these words of Paul in Romans 8, "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

Whether you realize it or not, we are at war -- there is a spiritual war within us as well as a spiritual war in this world for the souls of humanity. Satan is the ruler of this world at present, manipulating the world system to appeal to our fleshly desires. Without proper nourishment, Christians are just as susceptible to satisfying the desires of the flesh with the things of this world. We must be satisfied and if we do not find our daily satisfaction from God, we will naturally seek it out from the world. Satan wants Christians to be ineffective in the furtherance of gospel and is very effective in keeping us distracted and self-centered. Too many Christians today consume a spiritual fast food on Sunday morning, neatly packaged and convenient, but hardly enough for the spiritual life in and of itself. Just as we need daily physical food to give us energy, keep us healthy and strong, we also need daily spiritual food for effective Christian living. John gives us hope, "Greater is He who is in you then he who is in the world." God expects more of us and has given us everything we need for life and godliness. We have the Holy Spirit within us, the power to live in righteousness in the midst of a dark and fallen world. Paul implores believers to "Set [their] mind[s] on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:2) Philippians 4:8 states, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

So take inventory. What do you think about most often? Are your thoughts centered on God? Are you comfortable talking to God in prayer? What are you allowing into your mind? Are you feeding your mind daily with the word of God? Do you meditate on God's word regularly? Are you finding your satisfaction in Him or the things of this world? Anything other than God will never satisfy you. Accept no substitutes!

I'll close with two passage that are still applicable today and sums up the life God has called us to life in Him, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)

"This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Ephesians 4:17-24)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

For Whom Did Christ Die?

I have been taught my entire life from various pastors and teachers that Jesus died for the sins of all people for all time. My hope is that this response will help you see as well that this teaching is indeed biblically based upon the Scriptures.

The prophet Isaiah wrote this about the Messiah before the crucifixion, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him." (Isaiah 53:4-6, emphasis added) These verse states very clearly that all iniquity fell on the Messiah, meaning Jesus paid the penalty of sin for all people.

Paul wrote this to the church of Colossae after the crucifixion, "And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (2:13-14, emphasis added) Paul emphasizes that the death of Christ cancelled out the debt of sin, taking it out of the way and offering forgiveness of transgressions for all who are made alive in Christ. Why would he say this to the Colossians if indeed Christ had not paid the penalty for their sins?

Paul wrote this to Timothy regarding Christ after the crucifixion, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6, emphasis added) Paul states very clearly that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and that His sacrifice paid the ransom for all people.

The author of Hebrews also had some very important things to say regarding Jesus and the crucifixion, "But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone…For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself…And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God," (2:9, 7:26-27, 10:11-12, emphasis added) Clearly, these Scriptures give credit to Jesus for having tasted death for everyone and being the final satisfactory payment for all sins for all time as evidenced by His sitting down at the right hand of the Father.

Peter also wrote about the sacrifice of Christ after the crucifixion, "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed…For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;" (1 Peter 2:24, 3:18, emphasis added) Peter states that Jesus bore all of our sins in His body while dying on the cross and that His death once and for all paid for our sins so that He might bring us to God.

John wrote this in 1 John 2:2 well after the crucifixion, "and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." Jesus is the propitiation (satisfactory payment) for the sins of the entire world, past, present and future. God was pleased with the sacrifice of His Son, as it satisfied the wages of sin and satisfied the wrath of God. The proof of our justification before God was the resurrection of Christ (Romans 4:25).

Finally, we see from Scripture that salvation is available for all people and that God's desire is for all to be saved. However, the Scriptures state that all people are born into this world spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). In fact, we are not seeking God at all and none are righteous in the sight of God (Romans 3:9-18, Isaiah 53:6). The problem with sin is that it separates us from God who is holy (Romans 3:23). In addition, the wages of sin is death, meaning we deserve eternal separation from God because of our sin (Romans 6:23). However, because of God's love for all of humanity and His desire for reconciliation with humanity, He chose to intervene and provide a means of salvation for all humanity through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-28). "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8) Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all humanity for all time, taking the penalty of death upon Himself, dying in our place and then rose again from death, proving Himself to be a trustworthy Savior (1 Peter 2:24, 3:18, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). His sacrifice was the satisfactory payment for our sins and completely satisfied the wages of sin (death) for all humanity (1 John 2:2, 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). The response to this good news is to believe it, that is to trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Jesus offers eternal life as a free gift to all who simply believe in Him. Jesus communicated this very clearly to Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." (John 3:16-18,5:24, emphasis added) Eternal life is a gift from God by the grace of God and received simply by faith in Christ. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9, see also Romans 4:4-5, Titus 3:4-7, Acts 10:43) This is the gospel message that brings salvation to all who believe it (Romans 1:16-17). If the death of Christ was not satisfactory for all people, then why would the Scriptures testify in countless places that salvation is freely available to all who believe Christ?

My prayer is that you too will experience salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and rest assured that He paid the penalty for your sins on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus loves you and went to great lengths to show you His love for you by sacrificing Himself so you could be with Him now and for all eternity!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Roman Road Evangelism – Romans 10:9-10

Have you ever noticed that in most evangelical tracks Romans 10:9-10 is included among other key verses inviting unbelievers to salvation in Jesus Christ. Most notably these verses are a part of the "Roman Road":

Romans 3:23 – "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

Romans 6:23a – "For the wages of sin is death"

Romans 6:23b – "but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 – "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 10:9-10 – "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

Romans 10:13 – for "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

For over a year now, we have been studying the Romans in Sunday school, verse-by-verse, passage-by-passage and seeing the popular verses of Romans often quoted with their context. Have you ever examined the verses of the "Roman Road" in their context? When you do, you will find some very interesting things. However, I want to focus in on Romans 10:9-10 in this writing.

Romans chapter 10 is at the heart of Paul's three chapter discussion on his own people, the nation of Israel (Romans 9-11). Paul could identify with the nation and how as a whole they had missed and rejected the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. He had missed Jesus and it was not until His encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road that he finally saw the light and realized his mistake (Acts 9). Paul grieved over the rejection of Israel and went so far as to say he would wish to be accursed if it meant that the nation would see the truth concerning Jesus (Romans 9:2-3). Israel had pursued God through the Mosaic Law rather than pursuing Him through the proper channel, faith in Jesus Christ. Paul writes, "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed." (Romans 9:30-33) Again, Israel pursued righteousness by works rather than by faith in the Christ, the Chief Cornerstone. Paul is clearly calling for Israel to pursue God by faith and not forget the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed." (Isaiah 28:16)

Paul reiterates his desire for Israel's salvation at the start of chapter 10, "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation." (v1) Obviously Israel is still on the forefront of his mind when penning this chapter. Israel did not lack a zeal for God (v2), but lacked knowledge of the truth. Paul could identify very well with misdirected zeal (Galatians 1:14). To be sure, misguided zeal on faulty information can be a very dangerous thing (i.e. Islamic terrorists). Israel sought to establish their own righteousness on their own terms by subjecting themselves to the Mosaic Law for life. But the Scriptures clearly teach that no one is made righteous by the Law nor can it justify anyone because no one can keep it perfectly (Romans 3:28, Galatians 3:19-26, James 2:10). So Paul wanted Israel to know that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4) However, the nation of Israel did not believe in the blasphemer Jesus. Clearly Paul compares the "righteousness…based on law" (v4) which Israel chose with the "righteousness based on faith" (v5) which they missed. Did God not tell His people of the "righteousness based on faith"? He definitely told them. In fact, Abraham and David both pursed God by faith (Romans 4:1-8) and found the gift of righteousness. Paul reminds Israel that the righteousness based upon faith was spoken of by Moses, sighting Deuteronomy 30:11-14 which provides the context for Romans 10:9-10. Notice that both the heart and the mouth are involved in salvation (v8).

Interestingly enough, Romans 10:8-11 is in a literary form called a chiasm. Let's look closer.

A But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth (B and B') and in your heart (C and C')"— that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,

B that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (a),

C and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (b);

C' for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness (b),

B' and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (a).

A' For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."

Did you notice that there are actually two salvations mentioned in this famous passage?

  1. Believing in the heart (C and C') resulting in righteousness. This is justification by faith which is a free gift from God (Romans 3:28, Ephesians 2:8-9);
  2. Confession (synonymous with calling) with the mouth that Jesus is Lord (God). This is a response to our justification by faith resulting in physical salvation.

Jesus' own claim of His Lordship (deity) ultimately resulted in the Jews calling Him a blasphemer and condemning Him to crucifixion (John 5:18, 10:33). The reality is that only believers can say with confidence that Jesus is Lord. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:3, "Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit." Who has the Holy Spirit? Only believers in Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit. As such, believing in the heart precedes confession with the mouth (i.e. calling upon the name of the Lord) because only believers have the Holy Spirit and only by the Holy Spirit can believers acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Not convinced? This next section of Scripture also shows that believing precedes confession (calling).

You will also note that this next section, Romans 10:12-15, is like a stair-step type of chiasm.

A For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

A' How then shall they call upon Him

B in whom they have not believed?

B' And how shall they believe in Him

C whom they have not heard?

C' And how shall they hear

D without a preacher?

D' And how shall they preach

E unless they are sent?

E' Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!"

The progression is as follows: someone is sent, they preach the gospel, the people hear the gospel, the hearers believe the gospel resulting in righteousness (see Romans 10:10a), and the believers call upon the name of the Lord resulting in salvation (physical deliverance).

Still not convinced? You will note that in nearly every reference in the Old Testament involving someone who called upon the name of the Lord was doing so not for eternal salvation (justification), but rather as an act of worship, for the preservation of life or for physical deliverance from enemies and death. Abraham, Isaac and Moses called upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 12:8, 13:4, 21:33, 26:25, Exodus 34:5). David wrote, "I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears." (Psalm 18:3,6) David also said, "In my distress I called upon the Lord, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears." (2 Samuel 22:7, 1 Chronicles 21:26) Elijah called upon the Lord for the healing of the widows son, "And he called to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, hast Thou also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?" Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord, and said, "O Lord my God, I pray Thee, let this child's life return to him." And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived." (1 Kings 17:20-22) The Psalmist wrote, "Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon the Lord, and He answered them." (Psalm 99:6) The Psalmist also said, "Then I called upon the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I beseech Thee, save my life! From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place." (Psalm 116:4, 118:5) Jeremiah wrote, "I called on Thy name, O Lord, Out of the lowest pit. Thou hast heard my voice, "Do not hide Thine ear from my prayer for relief, From my cry for help." Thou didst draw near when I called on Thee; Thou didst say, "Do not fear!" (Lamentations 3:55-57) Even the men with Jonah called upon the Lord for salvation from the storm, "Then they called on the Lord and said, "We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man's life and do not put innocent blood on us; for Thou, O Lord, hast done as Thou hast pleased." (Jonah 1:14) Even Stephen while being stoned called upon the name of the Lord just before his death (Acts 7:59).

As you can see in each of these examples, these men of God were calling upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance salvation, not for eternal life salvation. As believers we too have the privilege of calling upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance. A good friend of mine only had time to yell "Jesus" before being struck by a two-ton dually truck. Miraculously, he survived without a broken bone! This is certainly a tangible example of a believer calling upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance! Did I mention that both the dually and car he was standing in front of were totaled? Now, when will Israel need to call upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance in the future? The tribulation and final week of Daniel comes to mind (Matthew 24-25).

When considering that Israel is the primary audience considered in Paul's writing in Romans 9-11, it sheds a different light on Romans 10:9-10 and begs the question if these are the best verses to use when leading an unbelieving Gentile to faith in Christ. I prefer verses like Romans 4:5, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16-18, 5:24, Galatians 2:16, and Titus 3:5 which emphasize faith in Christ for eternal life and receiving the gift of righteousness on the basis of faith alone in Christ alone.

So is confession required for salvation? Yes, but for physical deliverance salvation, not for eternal salvation. Eternal life (justification) is a gift from God received simply by faith in Christ (believing in the heart) and trusting in Him alone for salvation from hell. Believers have the ability to call upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance in this life.

Another interesting thing to point out is the number of Old Testament references used in Romans and how they dramatically increase in chapters 9-11 when Israel is being discussed. See below.

Old Testament References in Romans

OT Reference Verses in Romans


Old Testament Book



Habbakuk 2:4

Chapter 1



Psalm 62:12

Chapter 2



Isaiah 52:5

Chapter 3



Psalm 51:4

Chapter 4



Psalm 14:1

Chapter 5



Psalm 14:2

Chapter 6



Psalm 14:3

Chapter 7



Psalm 5:9, 140:3

Chapter 8



Psalm 10:7

Chapter 9



Isaiah 59:7

Chapter 10



Psalm 36:1

Chapter 11



Genesis 15:6

Chapter 12



Psalm 32:1

Chapter 13



Psalm 32:2

Chapter 14



Genesis 15:6

Chapter 15



Genesis 17:5

Chapter 16



Genesis 15:5



Genesis 15:6


Exodus 20:17

OT Books Authenticated by Romans


Psalm 44:22




Genesis 21:12




Genesis 18:10




Genesis 25:23




Malachi 1:2

2 Samuel



Exodus 33:19

1 Kings



Exodus 9:16

2 Kings



Hosea 2:23




Hosea 1:10




Isaiah 10:22




Isaiah 10:23




Isaiah 1:9




Isaiah 28:16




Deuteronomy 30:12




Deuteronomy 30:13



Deuteronomy 30:14


Isaiah 28:16


Joel 2:32


Isaiah 52:7


Isaiah 53:1


Psalm 19:4


Deuteronomy 32:21


Isaiah 65:1


Isaiah 65:2


1 Kings 19:10,14


1 Kings 19:18


Deuteronomy 29:4


Psalm 69:22


Psalm 69:23


Isaiah 59:20


Isaiah 59:21


Isaiah 40:13


Job 35:7


Deuteronomy 32:35


2 Kings 6:22


Exodus 20:13-17

Leviticus 19:18


Isaiah 45:23


Psalm 69:9


2 Samuel 22:50


Deuteronomy 32:43


Psalm 117:1


Isaiah 11:10


Isaiah 52:15

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Holy Spirit in Acts

Recently I did a word study on the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. I found it fascinating on the different ways in which the Holy Spirit was actually given to believers in the early church as well as the order of events following belief in Christ. Let's look at each of them briefly.

As you can see, there is not a consistent method mentioned throughout Acts as to how believers received the Holy Spirit. In addition, there is not a consistent order for what happened after believing in Christ regarding such things as water baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit, laying of the apostles hands, etc. Most of the early church, primarily comprised of Jews, received the Holy Spirit after the apostles laid their hands of them and were baptized after believing in Christ and yet before actually receiving the Holy Spirit. However, in the first recorded prominent Gentiles conversion (Cornelius and his family in Acts 10:43-45), we find that they received the Holy Spirit after hearing and believing the gospel message of Jesus Christ, not by the laying on of the apostles hands. As such, they were baptized after believing in Christ and after having already received the Holy Spirit. Again, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as they heard the message and believed it. I believe this is the pattern for Gentile believers receiving the Holy Spirit in the present day. My reasoning is two fold: (1) there are no modern day apostles with the authority to lay their hands upon believers to receive the Holy Spirit like in the days of the early church; and (2) it would be nearly impossible for modern day apostles (if there were any) to visit every single new believer in Christ throughout the world. Paul also suggests that believers receive the Holy Spirit upon faith in Christ, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14) As such, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is given immediately to believers who have listened to the gospel message and believed in Christ for eternal life.