The Apostle Paul is a good example of using every opportunity to share his faith story and influencing anyone he met for Christ. He even shared his faith with an angry mob in Jerusalem. Paul shared before the Jewish Council, then with governors Felix, then Festus, and before King Agrippa, who was almost persuaded to believe the Gospel. At every turn, even when shipwrecked on Malta, Paul told everyone the Gospel and how God changed his life.
The Book of Romans is Paul's theological masterpiece. Paul lays out the crucial doctrine of Justification (that God declares the unrighteous to be completely righteous because of the work of Jesus Christ). It is upon this pillar that he builds his argument for the gospel's power to transform unrighteous sinners into the justified righteous, for the cross of Jesus Christ can make us righteous. The good news in Christ is we can become justified, "just as if we never sinned!"
Paul explains in Romans 5 - 8what it means to overcome sin and live righteously for Christ in a fallen world and that is only possible through His grace. In chapter 7 and 8, Paul introduces us to four spiritual laws: the Law of God, the Law of Sin and Death, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ, which allows us to overcome sin and death, and the Law of the Mindset. Setting our mind on the Law of the Spirit will free us to live righteously as justified people by God's grace.
In Romans chapters 9 - 11, Paul deals with very deep truths we will never totally understand, namely the doctrine of Election and the Sovereignty of God. In Romans 8:28 we learn we can trust God's judgment in all things, even the bad, because He promises to ultimately make good come out of it. Surrendering our will to God allows Him to reveal His perfect will for our lives. As we obey God, He is happy to show us more of His will for our lives.
In Romans, chapters 12-16, Paul emphasizes the practical application of the truths he has shared in relation to God, the church, other believers, the government, the world, and ourselves. Paul specifically addresses: hospitality, serving, humility, forgiveness, prayer, honor, being an example, the gray areas of life and how to let love dictate how we respond to differences of opinion. Paul ends with his primary goal: to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul's first pastoral letter to the Corinthians was written to a church he knew very well, to correct problems and to instruct and encourage believers in their faith, and ours. In the first eleven chapters Paul addressed the specific problems within the church which inhibit spiritual growth and witness, both individually, and as a church. The last four chapters are the constructive section which offers solutions to the church's problems then and in our churches today.
The first problem Paul addressed was the problem of division; believers were divided over the leaders they followed. Paul's message was, we should follow Christ and not human leaders. Paul taught that the Spirit of God alone teaches spiritual things to man. We cannot learn spiritual truth simply through our human eyes, ears, or heart. We must learn spiritual truth through the Holy Spirit who gives us the capacity to know and understand God's thoughts.
Paul taught that since a man's heart is often deeper than his own knowledge, we are to leave the judgment of men's hearts to God. The Bible does not teach we should never judge another person, but to judge ourselves first, for sometimes it is necessary to make judgments about those who persist in their sin. Our motive for confronting them must always be love, with the goal of restoration to fellowship with the Lord and the body of Christ.
First Corinthians 7 is known as the marriage chapter of the Bible. It addresses a number of questions concerning marriage, singleness, divorce, remarriage, and physical relationships within marriage. Here we discover God's plan for marriage and many of the problem situations. When two believers are joined together in marriage, they commit their lives to one another because they believe God has joined them together and must depend on His grace to stay together.
Paul gives instructions on difficult issues in the church and how to apply principles of Christian liberty to those issues: eating food sacrificed to idols, how to observe the Lord's Supper, and how those who are stronger ought to regard those who are weaker in the faith. The issue is not what is right or wrong, but what glorifies God, what leads to the salvation of others, and what profits others. Paul will spell out later that these principles must be expressed in love.
Jesus begins by teaching His disciples eight attitudes called, the "beatitudes," or "blessed attitudes," because each one is introduced by the word "blessed." Jesus is promising to bless the disciple who has each of these attitudes. This word "blessed" can actually mean "happy," "spiritually prosperous," or "in a state of grace." Each attitude also includes a promise that describes the form in which this blessing will come into the life of that disciple.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.
Many people think Jesus was contradicting the Old Testament in these verses, but He was only confronting the teaching of the religious leaders. He was telling His disciples: "Everything I am teaching you is found in the Word of God, but what I am teaching is in direct conflict with what your religious leaders have been teaching you."
The word "mercy" means "unconditional love." When David writes in Psalm 23:6 that mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the word he uses for "follow" actually means "pursue." God's unconditional love will pursue David all of his life. This is the kind of love for others that we must have too, if we are to be like God.
Believers sometimes have the misguided opinion that their faith is weak if they show signs of mourning. This beatitude not only supports mourning it links it to a blessing. Mourning a loss is normal and there are things God wants us to learn from the loss. We must let God use our mourning to move us in three ways. First, mourning helps us ask the right questions about life. Second, it helps us to seek God's answers. Third, it also helps us to accept the blessing God has provided including our salvation.
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