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Starting Point Study Bible-NIVFor New and Recommitted Believers
By Luis Palau
Zondervan Publishing CompanyCopyright © 2002 Luis Palau
All right reserved.
Chapter OneROMANS 1:31
31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
God's Righteous Judgment
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even de-fending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
The Jews and the Law
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.
3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.
Topic: Understanding Our World Romans 1:16
All the members of his family gathered around Mark's hospital bed as he took his last breath. Neither they nor the best doctors in the world could save him. Death was just too powerful.
Apart from God's power, there is no greater force in the world than death. Because of the impact of sin on humanity, we all came into this world spiritually dead (separated from God). The only way out of this condition is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel refers to God's actions in history, when his Son Jesus lived an obedient life and chose to die on the cross, paying the price for humanity's sin. Thus Jesus broke the power of death and was resurrected to offer new life, God's life, to all who choose to believe he did this for them.
The unrelenting power of physical death through cancer won the battle for Mark's body, but death had lost its sting. Because of his faith in the gospel, Mark was full of resurrection life. He simply shed his outward shell, free at last to be with Jesus entirely. That's the power of the gospel.
It takes a choice to become a Christian. Are you certain of resurrection life? Why?
PATH INTRODUCTION First path article on "Giving Up Rights" found on page 63.
Topic: Giving Up Rights 2 Thessalonians 1:15
Jesus, the Supreme Example Many of today's world leaders command huge armed forces and can launch weapons of mass destruction with a single word. But all their weaponry combined can't compare to the awesome power of Jesus, the King of Kings. How amazing it is then that during his earthly ministry Jesus never flaunted this power. He modeled a life of complete submission, meekness and servanthood.
Some have interpreted this meekness as a sign of weakness, but that's not the case at all! Meekness is a character trait of strong people who, out of love, surrender their rights to God. The Greek word for meekness comes from the description of a powerful stallion responding to the gentle signals of his master.
Jesus was in such complete unity with the Father that he willingly gave up his rights and power to embrace his Father's will. He said, "I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me" (John 8:28).
So great was his love and trust that even when facing death he could pray, "Not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26:39).
Jesus wants us to have that same relationship of complete love and trust. It's in knowing the Father's heart that we gain the freedom to embrace His will for our lives. At times, it's difficult to do that. We cannot fathom what it was like for the Son of God to leave heaven and come into our sinful world as a man.
While on this planet he gave up the right to be born in a customary manner. We may glamorize the Nativity in Christmas celebrations, but anyone who has been in a stable knows it is damp, drafty and reeks of animal dung. Jesus also surrendered his reputation. Many viewed him as an illegitimate son, raised in a town that was scorned, and yet this very town later scorned him. The ultimate slur to his reputation came when he, the Son of God, was called a devil by religious leaders (Matt. 12:24).
Philippians 2:5 says he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. Some servants gave up their right to freedom out of love, continuing to serve their masters even after they had completed their term of service. In our modern world, where we love our rights and freedoms, it is hard to imagine giving them away. But that's exactly what Jesus did for our sakes. His final surrender was the right to life itself. He became obedient to death on a cross, a death reserved for common criminals.
This love offering of his own life dealt a crushing blow to the kingdom of darkness. Human beings were trapped in this evil kingdom, slaves to sin. But Jesus, through his death, not only provided forgiveness for sins but also broke the power of sin altogether (Romans 6-8).
We can still choose to please ourselves, but we no longer have to. We give up our rights and say no to self, so we can respond obediently to God.
Excerpted from Starting Point Study Bible-NIV by Luis Palau Copyright © 2002 by Luis Palau. Excerpted by permission.
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