Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 27 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “Romans, Part IV: Living for Jesus.”
Today’s episode is Part IV of the six-part series, “Studies in Romans: Saved by Grace, Powered by Love.”
Last week we explored the Apostle Paul’s teaching on God as the Master Bridge-builder, spanning the gap between fallen man and himself. We also saw how we as believers are also called to build bridges of healthy relationships with others so we can bring unsaved people to Jesus.
Today, we’ll move into the next few chapters where Paul talks about living the Christian life as witnesses to the grace of God.
In summary for our series to this point, here are a few notes:
All human beings are sinners—but are fully justified by God’s amazing grace.
Justification (i.e. “righteousness) is accounted to all who believe and receive God’s gift of new life in Christ.
Love builds bridges. Jesus is our “bridge” to God the Father. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God [the Father] made [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
By accepting God’s gift of righteousness by faith, we are “born again” into God’s family. We become citizens of His heavenly Kingdom, and are commissioned as ambassadors for His Kingdom of love and grace.
With those basic truths in mind, let’s dive a little deeper into how all this works. To fulfill our incredible role as ambassadors—God’s witnesses—we must draw wisdom, power, and courage from His abiding presence in our very lives, empowering us to serve and accomplish His the purposes He ordains.
The Resident God
Consider the idea of a “Resident God.”
In the drama of the biblical Exodus, as God meets with Moses on Mt. Sinai, the Lord tells him, “Let them (the Israelites) make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).
Let’s stop for a moment and think about the enormity of that instruction. Here we have YHWH, the Great God of all Creation, instructing human beings to prepare a tent home for Him because He wants to live next door! Incredible! The Maker and Ruler of the entire Universe says He wants to camp right in the middle of all the tents in the Israelite campsite! He gives specific instructions for materials to be used, dimensions, visiting hours, and priestly responsibilities. There are specific—and rigid—requirements for the neighborhood like cleanliness, order, etc., but the message is clear: God wants to be near His chosen people, and the best way to do that in this moment is live in a tent with them in their city of tents.
Fast-forward a few hundred years. The wilderness tabernacle still serves as the meeting place between God and Israel. But, as with all material things, the 400-year-old tent is looking pretty tattered, simply because it’s been around for a long, long time.
King David gets an idea: Build a permanent temple as God’s house! Of course, as we read Old Testament history, we know that it was David’s son, King Solomon, who was able to fulfill his father’s dream. The scenes describing the dedication of “Solomon’s Temple” in 1 Kings 8 tell of God’s entrance into the holy place:
“And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.”1 Kings 8:10-11
Now, instead of a tent-home the Lord has a permanent “house” in which to live among His people.
Sadly, over the next few centuries the people fell into apostasy, and YHWH abandoned the Jerusalem temple. He allowed the pagan Babylonians to attack and destroy the city—including the temple—and remove most of the population away from their “promised land.”
In God’s providence, however, Jerusalem was rebuilt, and another temple constructed. And, once again the “resident God” graciously recognized the heart’s desire of those who built it out of their love, dedication, and sacrifice. It wasn’t as ornate or physically more glorious than Solomon’s temple, but God promised this second temple would be more blessed than the first.
That promise was fulfilled in the person of Jesus who walked in this temple and ministered in its precincts. But, in fact, as we look at Jesus we discover that God is moving ever closer to us.
John writes, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Jesus of Nazareth was, in fact, the Word—the Second Person of the Godhead—in human flesh. Now, instead of merely living in a tent next door, or in a temple built with hands, the I AM has moved into Adam’s flesh and blood. He has become one of us, not just a divine neighbor, but an actual member of our race!
But wait! There’s more!
In Romans 8:9 Paul indicates that the Spirit of God “dwells in you.” The “resident God” takes up residence—by the presence of the Holy Spirit—in the heart of every believer!
When writing to the Colossian church, Paul also speaks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
Thus, we can witness the progression of God’s “residence” with Adam’s race—from the wilderness tabernacle, to the temples in Jerusalem, to the person of Jesus present among us, to the Holy Spirit living and dwelling in the heart of every believer.
Because of this, Paul accurately describes our bodies as temples.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The Purpose of a Temple
From this teaching by Paul, we can understand a rather obvious truth:
Peter elaborates on this metaphor in his first epistle: “You . . . as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
I really like the way this verse is rendered in the New Living Translation: “You are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God” (1 Peter 2:5 NLT).
The “spiritual sacrifices” Peter is talking about is the testimony/record of our life as followers of Jesus.
Back to Romans, Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . . For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).
Let’s break down what Paul means.
“The just shall live by faith.”
Who are “the just?” They are all who believe and receive God’s promise.
“The just shall live by faith.”
Paul’s message here is that believers will live pro-actively engaged with the world around them vs. reactively. They will touch the lives of others with God’s love whenever possible instead of allowing “the world” to control their thoughts, words, or actions.
“The just shall live by faith.”
Faith is an integral part of life. You cannot NOT have faith. Where you place your faith determines your life.
Let’s talk some more about living for Jesus by faith. Paul has a lot to say about this in chapters 6-8.
(6:8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
(6:13-14) Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God, for sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
(8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
(8:11) If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
(8:31) If God is for us, who can be against us?
(8:38) 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 created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The words of an old hymn seem to fit perfectly as we bring today’s episode to a close.
Living for Jesus Thomas O. Chisolm (1917) Living for Jesus, a life that is true, Striving to please Him in all that I do, Yielding allegiance glad-hearted and free, This is the pathway of blessing for me! O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, For Thou in Thine atonement, Didst give Thyself for me. I own no other master, My heart shall be Thy throne! My life I give henceforth to live O Christ, for Thee alone.
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll share Part V of this special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Living Sacrifices.” In that study we’ll explore Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:1 where he writes, “I beseech you therefore brethern, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!
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