If you are reading this, I hope you are God’s servant. He calls us sons (yes, women too, we’re all sons, just like we’re all the bride of Christ), but we can call ourselves servants. I like to think of myself as His love slave. But as such—slave, servant, child—who can possibly judge us? Only God! Recently, I heard some gossip about a fellow missionary. People are saying the Lord told her to go home, but she won’t listen. Where do people get such information? One thing is for certain: they didn’t get that from God! He does not gossip about His children. The only key we need to someone else’s life is this: is Jesus their Lord? If not, get them saved. If yes, accept them at face value. We don’t need to judge them. They belong to God.
A friend of mine likes to give balloons to her audience. She has them blow one up and consider their breath to carry all the criticisms they have made of other people, all the derogatory remarks, in fact, every negative word to have come out of their lips. Then she has them stick a pin in the balloon to explode it and let the words fall to the ground, void. The second balloon is to carry redemptive words to be spoken where the destructive words were said. When the balloon is full, she has them release it to spin around in the air, spilling out all the positive words to fill the space.
Romans is clearly the book of the new birth. Perhaps that’s why it is strategically placed after the Gospels, in which Jesus worked with the Holy Spirit, and after Acts, in which the Apostles worked with the Holy Spirit. Now it is time, after these descriptions of what to do, for the people of God to work with the Holy Spirit, and Romans starts us at the starting gate: get born again! And then get baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Just as a point of review, when we are born again, the Holy Spirit moves into our spirit and never leaves us or forsakes us, no matter how stupid our human behavior may be. However, if we want His power to work in and with us, we must have His baptism, as that is when power comes upon us. That power doesn’t stay steady, we can lose it and regain it all day long. As Marilyn Hickey says, we leak. He’s always there, but we need the Anointing for the power to work. How do we get and keep that Anointing? That’s what the rest of the Bible will teach us.
Out in the world, where the Bible has little bearing, people wonder about things like “who are the children of God?” “Isn’t everybody born of God? After all, He created everything, so we must all be His children.” In these three chapters, 9, 10 and 11, Paul settles these kinds of questions for the Romans. Perhaps they wrote and asked him, we don’t know. But we do know his answers, and they are still true today. Look at what he says to them about the children of God.
That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (Romans 9:8).
Solid matter, children born through a fleshly process, these are not children of God, even though He created them. He tells the Romans that God’s children are His through some mystical means he is calling a promise. He’s starting a discourse here to explain Christianity.
The eighth chapter of Romans is one of the most critical, or important, parts of the Bible. It tells us who we are, while it also explains the Trinity. The word trinity does not appear in the Bible; however, God’s existence in three persons, or three personalities, is clearly demonstrated by The Word of God. Each part of God is equal to, is as powerful as, and is as much God as the other parts. But, as in all organizational plans, by necessity, there is a hierarchy.
God the Father is the ultimate authority. Jesus the Son is the Head of the Church. That word church has two biblical meanings: “the individual who belongs to (has surrendered to) Jesus Christ.” The second meaning is “an assembly of such persons, whether it be two or thousands.” In other words, the word church means “people.” In the Bible, it never means buildings or hierarchies. The Holy Spirit acts by living inside each believer as teacher, guide, counselor, and comforter. He is the one out of the three that operates on the earth, and He is in contact with every human being. Jesus meets with His five-fold ministry teammates, and God the Father oversees it all and has the final decision.
The Word of God is a holy book. It expresses the very essence of God. So let’s start this month’s study by answering the question: What does the Word of God say about the Word of God?
“Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29).
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it,” (Isaiah 55:11).
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away,” (Matthew 24:35).
Another way to study the Bible is to use colored pencils. There are Bibles which already have colors underling key phrases, but don’t use those. We remember colors and most especially, those we have applied. Choose your own colors, and mark your Bibles well. I filled one Bible with so many colors and underlines it was no longer readable. I had to put it in storage. You might ask what good that did me if I can no longer use that Bible. I believe the process of coloring the Scriptures imprinted the Word in my spirit. Now, when I need a verse it pops right up.
Don’t bother memorizing Scriptures. All that does is store it in your mind. The mind is used by the natural man. You must be spiritual and in the Spirit in order to study the Bible, and therefore able to use the information it contains. The spirit-man uncovers truth, as Bible truth is only revealed to believers. The natural-man can read the Word, study the Word, take university courses on the Word, even achieve academic degrees on the Word, and all that work will not change anything.
The best way to study the Word is first of all read it cover to cover. Read it slowly. Don’t rush. Read it as if it were a novel, a good story. (You can do this at the same time as we study Romans.) It’s best to read it in the morning when all your faculties are fresh, after you’ve showered, dressed, and had your breakfast. If you have not prepared your body, your soul will be uncomfortable and it won’t receive instruction. Be at your best and prepared to receive the best.
As you read, note how the Old and New Testaments complete each other. They confirm, and/or explain what each one says. For example, in Revelation 12 we read about a woman running away. That woman is not Mary, nor is it the Holy Spirit, or any other guess that interpreters have suggested. That woman is Israel.
The first thing that has to be established about the Word, as we approach it to read and understand it, is the absolute authority of the Word. It comes from God; He conceived it; He spoke it to human authors, and they wrote it down, but the Word was created for eternity, not just for certain times or certain people or certain circumstances of mankind. When the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for saying He was the Son of God, He responded with this:
34) "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, You are gods'?
35) "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),
36) "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?”
Scholars think Romans is Paul’s greatest work. I think Hebrews is his greatest work and Romans his second. Next year we can plan on digging into Hebrews as deeply as we do with Romans this year, maybe more-so. Hebrews relates the feasts, festivals and fasts of the Old Testament to the New Testament. What had once been exterior, outward acts, after Jesus brought new life, these same feasts, festivals and fasts became interior, spiritual events. Hebrews is a book on how to live as a spirit in this physical world.
Romans relates the laws and regulations of the Old Testament to the New Testament. What had once been over 600 laws, after Jesus brought new life, these laws became a transformation of the human being into a love being – truly loving one another from the heart. Romans is a book on how to be made out of love like God is, and thereby love everyone.
Writing has been in my blood, so to speak, but when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and He told me to write, all my trepidations rolled away and I began in earnest! After all, if God Almighty says it was His idea that I be a writer, who am I to stand in His way? My hope is that you not only like what I write, but that your life is moved by it, and that your party to Jesus and with Jesus turns your life into days of Heaven on Earth.