Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law – Romans 2:25-29

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Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law – Romans 2:25-29 – 01/10/2016

Romans 2:25 (ESV) For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code  and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills. Let’s start in verse 25…

V25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.

Paul draws a close to the second chapter of the book of Romans by stating that if you break one little aspect of the law, the rest of it becomes irrelevant. He gives both sides of the conversation in the above verse; the argument from the Jew will be that he is justified by the Law. That his salvation is based on the very fact that he is a child of Abraham and a follower of the precepts and creeds of his forefathers.

Then we see the counter argument, if this is the case then you have to keep ALL of the commandments, this is also backed up by the words of Christ when he states in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 5:17 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

And again in the Epistle of James…

James 2:8 (ESV) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Convinced yet? We are not saved by our works because like it or not we are fallen creatures, we may have the best intentions in the world but we have weak fleshes and despite a spirit that may be willing we will not always follow through in what we know is right and correct. I know for sure I could not keep 613 rules and regulations. (I struggle to keep New year’s resolutions more than 5 minutes) so what we are looking at is a matter of the heart, what is your core? Where is your heart? Are you righteous in your outward appearance or are you cleansed within? This all seems rather complicated but please read on.

V26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

And Paul writes here and plays on their prejudices by stating if that is the level playing field we are on then would the Gentile not be judged by the same rules as the Jew? If there was a Gentile proselyte so devoted to the things of God that his righteousness far exceeded those who were “of the law” would he not be as justified?

A ceremony will not save you, having a Godly father, grandfather or relation who is praying for you will not save you, you have to make that choice for yourself. My greatest desire in life is to see my daughter and my brother walk in the life giving faith that I have found in Christ Jesus but they have to make their own choice. I pray that they pour into the Word of God and have a desire to grow in a day to day relationship with their Messiah Jesus Christ and have them know that if they were the only ones on the earth, Jesus would have died for just them.

I have grouped the last four verses together because they are simply one thought and as stated a ceremony will not save you, simply by having what is in the country I have adopted as my own a standard medical procedure. We read here that the heart is the most important part of the day to day relationship with Jesus Christ and you can all be a Jew inwardly because of that circumcision of the heart. And believers in Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit as a helper, we were promised by Jesus that we would have a helper and he keeps his promises.

We have to be careful that we heed the warning at the end of this passage that we are not doing the work of the Lord for the praises of men. We must be careful that we are not doing it with a boastful heart or a wish or desire to appear holy. We must be searching for the praises of God and not the praises of men. We see the evidence in what type of fruit is in our hearts, Jesus warns of these types of people in the gospel of Matthew chapter six …

Matthew 6:1 (ESV) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Basically, run away, flee from any type of “look at me” thoughts that may come across your mind when you are doing ministry. It is always the people who you least expect it, but it may very well be you if that is something you struggle with. If you get peeved because you did not get kudos for a job well done then it may well be you.

These verses that talk about the circumcision of the heart and the simplicity of the gospel make me feel all evangelical and make me want to go spread the word with an increased fervency in my neighborhood. I want to see my neighbors get saved, I want to see the street I live on get saved and I want them all to be mentored by God honoring, God fearing men and women and go out and reach others in their sphere of influence. I want to move the needle in my city for Jesus Christ and pack the churches in my town with people on fore for Jesus Christ.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to
TTE
TGBTG
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Pray for kings and pray for paupers

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the second chapter of First Timothy.

Pray for All People

1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Paul categorizes this point in order of importance to what Paul wished to tell Timothy, the first chapter was a general greeting and a charge to Timothy personally to stay in Ephesus. Now we get into what is of top of mind in the mind of Paul and what he wished to share with Timothy and the greater church at large.

How should we worship?

Paul deals with the way we should worship, that when we pray we should not forget anyone, that no man is too lowly to not be prayed for. Paul lists four ways of communication to God, these are:

Supplications – asking for something, let’s be honest we all do it! We shouldn’t make it all about asking but we should know that God will supply our needs, perhaps not on our timescale but God is faithful.

Prayers – is a catch all term for all of our requests and dialogue with God, both individual and on a corporate basis.

Intercessions – We are told in Galatians 6 to “bear one another’s burdens” so it is just that we should pray for others, we should always make times to intercede for others, often times non-Christians who know that I am a Christian will make request of me to pray on their behalf, it is a humbling experience and can be done either in the persons presence or far away. When we pray for our mission’s people we are interceding and partnering in prayer with them to help them in the mission God has placed them in.

Thanksgiving – Not just a day where we eat too much in North America! This is vital in our Christian walk; we have been saved of so much, it is only right that we give thanks and praise. We have been plucked out of the bowels of eternal damnation and on many occasions, when I have not been thankful; I don’t fully give gratitude and don’t attribute what I should to God.

I have never met someone I could not pray for, however how many of us do? Yes I get it, we are busy and we prioritize our prayer life but as Paul states we should be praying for “all men”, that’s right, even the ones who despise us and hate us! We have to pray for them in the same way we pray for our kids, our spouses, our family, our friends and even our pastors. I would encourage you to pray for them more!

Pray for them all in the same way

V2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

In Paul’s day Christians were often persecuted under the charge that they claimed there was someone higher than Caesar. In many cases this is the charge they would levy against Christians, and in all reality all the Christians could be tried for is trying to give the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul commends this and tells Christians to be good citizens, pay your taxes, pray for those who rule over you (much like he states in the book of Romans chapter 13) and be godly and dignified in every way. Don’t embrace the world but be a light to the world.

Pray for a revolution?

It is obvious that we would pray for calm and stability in our countries fortunes as who in their right mind would pray for anarchy and a tumultuous governmental structure? It is important to pray for the prosperity in the short and material term, but we must also pray for them spiritually, that they would turn to Jesus and that they would make decisions based on sound biblical and doctrinal standpoints.

In many cases Governments are areligious, they will not subscribe to a particular faith as to not lose a vote anywhere but we are not to conduct ourselves in a way that Christianity would become a target for government involvement. It sounds far-fetched in the western world, but there are many countries in the world today where it is illegal or restricted for people to profess a faith in Jesus Christ. My prayer for those people is that the Governments would leave them alone to practice their faith.

God is pleased when we honor those in authority.

V4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Let’s hear from Jesus

And this is why; God desires all to come to a knowledge and faith in his son Jesus Christ. Jesus stated in John 14:6 that “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV) We should be doing it all in an effort to be evangelists to our leaders. Look at how Daniel conducted himself in the land of Babylon, he rose to prominence in a very pagan land but stayed true, loyal and faithful to God and lived a life that was an example to me.

God desires that all be saved but they have to come to that one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ states also in John 10:9 “I am the door. If any man enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and find pasture” (ESV) We have to make a response and accept Jesus as our Savior.

Jesus is attributed with “giving himself” he did that literally on a wooden grave for criminals in the cruelest possible way by one of the most barbaric methods of death ever devised for a criminal. He gave himself “as a ransom” because he did not deserve what he got; he became sin despite never committing one. He became a ransom in the most loving way when he paid a debt that we couldn’t in order to absolve our sins and reconcile man to God.

The reason for Paul’s position

This was the reason “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (V7) Paul preached what he preached. This was a massive U Turn in message from the man who used to persecute those who spoke of the exact same message. He was a preacher of this message and this was the reason why his life changed so dramatically.

Paul calls himself “a teacher to the Gentiles” Paul started off as a minister to both but it was a common pattern of the early church, the apostles, the believers and the new converts would attempt to reach the Jews first to confirm Jesus as their messiah, (they were still waiting for the messiah that they crucified) often times though they would not be received well and they would then go out to the Gentiles who would accept the testimony of Jesus Christ and the Word of God as truth.

Does God want only Gentiles? Only Jews?

Truth is God wants to be reconciled to you whether you are Jew or Gentile, we are all his creation and Jesus died for the sins of the world, not just the sins of a certain tribe or continent. No-one can be saved just by being born a certain way, you have to choose to follow your messiah, Jesus Christ

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

A warning against False Teachers

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Warning Against False Teachers

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle”. page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse three of the first chapter of First Timothy.

Remain in Ephesus

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Paul commends Timothy to remain in Ephesus, as stated earlier Timothy had a really tough job and he was urged to stay there to combat heresy. This encouragement is evident that he had done well so far, but God was telling him to have Timothy stay in Ephesus; continue the work until he was called elsewhere. 

Ministry is hard, you will be attacked both spiritually and mentally, I have seen good Pastors forfeit wealth, material success and sometimes have health considerations due to remaining in a certain ministry. That is faith, true faith to stay the course because all that is telling you to is that still small voice from God guiding your path. This is even more so when all of the material evidence points to escape being the only option.

Affliction goes with the territory in ministry, sometimes it is seasonal, and some of us are blessed with a permanent state of affliction. Whatever God has us go through he will give us what we need to get through it. God will allow us to be in difficult situations, often times it is to show us lessons that we need to learn. One of my failings is failing to pray for patience to get through the trials I face and my prayer usually involves the theme or tone of “Get me out of this LORD!” rather than “Show me what I need to learn and in your own time LORD let me learn and then deem me worthy to be removed from this trial”.

Why had he to remain? Simply to keep the doctrine straight! To teach no other doctrine, to make sure that the church as a whole avoided heresy and to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had preached to the Ephesian church and told them straight from the horse’s mouth the correct doctrine. He had set out in his own teachings a certain set of beliefs that were correct and he was keen that the Ephesians stay in the solid doctrine that he established.

Keep the doctrine straight

Paul was very concerned with keeping the doctrinal “ducks in a row” as God is concerned that we believe and what we believe. He is concerned what we believe about him, what we believe about Jesus and also what we believe about truth. Just like the times in which Paul was writing in, (Roman times) they were a very polytheistic society with many “truths”. Paul would be writing in the face of this and advising a singular truth based on the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This will be offensive then as it is today, there is only one way to heaven and that is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot get there through the teachings of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius or the Dahlia Llama. None of these other folks died for the sins of the world, there was only one person in the history of the world able to do this and that was Jesus Christ.

Teach no other doctrine

Paul was not worried about Timothy’s doctrine but the doctrine of those around him. He was commended that “you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” he was then given his instructions to stand up against those who wished to teach “different doctrine” this doctrine was obviously contrary to the message and it must have been tough for Timothy. You have got to stop these falsehoods in the church, command if you will because this doctrine was not up for debate; he was to charge it to these certain persons.

Like any heresy it grows arms and legs, and Paul states “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” Timothy was to cut this out at the root because not only were they deviating from the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, they were taking doctrine and applied untruths, myths and applying things to it was never meant to mean.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt and state that I don’t think in the main it was malicious, they were not preaching against Jesus, but they were focusing on the wrong things. If we get distracted in minor points of theology it can be more distracting and can often times do more harm than good.

Gentiles keeping the Law

A prevalent problem in the early church was the Jewish believer trying to force Gentiles to try to keep the law and applying a further burden upon them. Paul was very vociferous against doctrines like this as it caused more harm than good. We do this today in our over complicating of the gospel message and attempting to over intellectualize the message to make it seem more complicated than it actually is.

Jesus+ doctrine

Another fear is the Jesus+ doctrine, this is where most cults error and advise that in order to attain higher spirituality you have to have Jesus plus something else.  The problem with this Paul states quite clearly that “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” they are removing the truth of edification from God for the thrill of a speculation from man.

The truth of the edification from God is pure and truthful, where the man is a created being from God and he is not honest and truthful, man is corrupt and will produce a short term thrill while the idea is new, but is nothing but a distraction or a corruption of Godly edification. The rewards are much less and really are profitless and rob you of a much greater blessing.

Pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith

Going on from this we read “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” And Paul shows the loving shepherds heart that he has for these folks, this is important as we have many “fakers”, “part-time believers” or “Sunday legalists” in our bodies today, people don’t change! Jesus called them “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28) because they looked great on the outside but were dead inside.

We have to check ourselves first and make sure that we are doing this and that we are approaching our doctrine with a pure heart. When Jesus was on this earth, the people he had the most issue is the people who should have known better. It was the ones who knew the law but they approached it with a wicked heart and used it to justify their behavior as opposed to using it to bring you closer to God. It was all about “looking holy” as opposed to “being holy”. Even although we are not Jewish, we still have Jewish type legalists, misunderstanding the doctrines and are “warriors in the church” but “silent outside”.

Examine the harvest

In order to check ourselves we have to examine the fruit in our lives to make sure there is nothing “poisoning the well” A good question to ask is “Are you being changed by God’s word or are we using it as a rulebook that we realize we cannot measure up to and attempt to work our way into God’s good books and deny our sincere faith in order to try to please God by our own efforts.

Vain discussion

V6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

When we get sidetracked, confused and sidetracked into vain discussion (some versions have idle chatter) then we go further down the track of going away from God. Some churches by focusing more on “man-made rules” than “God inspired doctrine” have done this and found themselves in all manners and areas of compromise.

Vain discussion can also be over analyzing of scripture and as stated before taking it into tangents it was never meant to go in or applying man’s wisdom and taking it places it was never meant to go in. It can lead to some interesting discussions but the fruit is questionable as does it really do what it intended to and bring you closer to God? It may very well be entertaining but can erode from the message that God is trying to tell you.

When people get “puffed up” and have something to say about scripture that makes them seem holy, they may desire to be a teacher. In Paul’s day it was the people who were pulling the sheep astray and the very ones involved in the vain discussions (the last people who should ever be allowed near the front of the assembly) they let individual pride, ambition and desire to be known take over from any good they possibly could do as servants because they seek to serve their ambition first and God a distant second.

My or thy will be done?

Please do not confuse this with a holy calling, but anyone desiring to be a teacher should really look at the qualifications in chapter two, examine them with an elder or someone you trust and prayerfully consider whether that it is a calling or whether you are working in “my will be done” as opposed to “thy will be done”. We will go deeper into this when we look at the qualifications much later.

This leads to a conclusion that we could all see coming “without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” we see these people not seeing their own folly and also not seeing the potential damage they could be doing to the body of Christ as a whole.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE