Mary Did You Know?

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary Did You Know” by Buddy Greene.  I was privileged to see my daughter’s school choir perform it this year, and as I think about it, the song is very fitting for a study in the first chapter of Hebrews.  We would ask Mary, did you know this:

Hebrews 1:1 – 4 — “God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

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The Judgment of God

Romans 1:24–32 — “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever. Amen.

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

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God Hath Spoken

This is the first in a study that I am beginning on the Epistle to the Hebrews.  Before going straight into the study, I want to bring you into my understanding of the place and the context of this epistle.  It has long been a controversial epistle in regards to authorship, audience, and intent.

It is no secret that the twelve apostles were all Jews, or better yet, men of Israel, Hebrews.  In their ministry before the cross, they were sent to preach to the Jews.  In Matthew 10:5 & 6, the Lord told them explicitly not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  The Lord Himself said explicitly in Matthew 15:24 that He was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  In Romans 15:8, the apostle Paul reminds his readers that “Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”, and any reader of the four Gospels would have to conclude that His ministry was indeed to Israel.  He did not come to take away that which God had promised, but to confirm it. Continue reading “God Hath Spoken”

The Eschatology of Christmas

Joy to the World

I have heard it stated more than once that Isaac Watts’ carol, “Joy to the World”, is not really a “Christmas song”.  I suppose that could be considered to be the case, if we think of Christmas as only celebrating the birth, or rather, the entering into the world, of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If we are only thinking about the “babe in a manger”, then it is not a “Christmas song”.

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The Wrath of God Revealed

Romans 1:18–23 — “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

Now in our study of Romans, the Apostle Paul comes to the place why the gospel of Christ is needed, and what the salvation that it is the power of God unto, is salvation from.  We read previously that in the gospel of Christ the righteousness of God is revealed, and that the just shall live by faith;  but here we read that the wrath of God is revealed.  God is righteous, but mankind, both collectively and individually, is ungodly and unrighteous.

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From Faith to Faith

Romans 1:16–17 — “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Continuing to look at these key verses in the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans, we see how the righteousness of God is revealed.  The gospel of Christ reveals the righteousness of God from faith, to faith.

What does it mean for this righteousness to be revealed from faith to faith?  Let us look to the Scriptures for the answer:

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The Just Shall Live By Faith

Romans 1:16–17 — “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses” and effectually began what is known in history as the Protestant Reformation.  The statement that the Apostle Paul makes in Romans 1:17 is long remembered as the statement that opened Luther’s eyes to justification by faith:

“The just shall live by faith”  Continue reading “The Just Shall Live By Faith”

Precedent

The apostle Paul often used verses and statements from the Hebrew Scriptures in ways that did not always fit their original context.  That “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” is enough for me to accept that these quotations are used correctly.

An example of this is in Romans 10, where Paul, speaking of salvation by grace through faith is also available to the Jew even in the time of their national blindness, makes the statement “for whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).  Most of us when quoting this verse use it in much the same way that Paul uses it here, except we use to say how salvation by grace through faith is available to all.  In Joel 2:32, however, it is about the salvation that the people of Israel will receive during the future day of the LORD.

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The Righteousness of God

Romans 1:16–17 — “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

The two verses above are a great declaration from scripture regarding the purpose of this great epistle:  the revelation of the righteousness of God.  These were covered as a part of the entire passage in the last study, of how Paul is not ashamed to stand up and preach the gospel of Christ in the capital of the world. Continue reading “The Righteousness of God”