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A Midterm Exam: Five Questions to Test Your Understanding - Romans 8:31-34

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In the middle of any given course or semester, a test consisting of questions is given. This does two things: it measures the student’s grasp of the course materials, and it helps identify any areas that need work. Right in the middle of his sixteen-chapter book, Paul gives his readers a series of questions to jog our spiritual memory and face some wonderful realities about the love of God. Let’s consider five questions in these verses.

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10/20/2019
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A Midterm Exam: Five Questions to Test Your Understanding
Romans 8:31-34
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
In the middle of any given course or semester, a test consisting of questions is given. This does two things: it measures the student’s grasp of the course materials, and it helps identify any areas that need work. Right in the middle of his sixteen-chapter book, Paul gives his readers a series of questions to jog our spiritual memory and face some wonderful realities about the love of God. Let’s consider five questions in these verses.
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Heart & Soul: A Study through Romans

Heart & Soul: A Study through Romans

When the wrath of God meets the righteousness of God, where does that leave us? The apostle Paul says that we are marked by sin at birth but marked righteous at salvation. In this series through Romans, Skip Heitzig explains the essentials of Christian doctrine that can transform your thoughts, words, and actions. Move from sinner to saint, and from saved to Spirit-filled as you inscribe the essence of the gospel onto your heart and soul.

Outline

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  1. A Question of Reaction (v. 31a)

  2. A Question of Opposition (v. 31b)

  3. A Question of Qualification (v. 32)

  4. A Question of Accusation (v. 33)

  5. A Question of Condemnation (v. 34)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: October 20, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "A Midterm Exam: Five Questions to Test Your Understanding"
Text: Romans 8:31-34

Path

In the middle of any given course or semester, a test consisting of questions is given. This does two things: it measures the student's grasp of the course materials, and it helps identify any areas that need work. Right in the middle of his sixteen-chapter book, Paul gives his readers a series of questions to jog our spiritual memory and face some wonderful realities about the love of God. In this teaching, Pastor Skip considers five questions found in the verses.
  1. A Question of Reaction (v. 31a)
  2. A Question of Opposition (v. 31b)
  3. A Question of Qualification (v. 32)
  4. A Question of Accusation (v. 33)
  5. A Question of Condemnation (v. 34)
Points

A Question of Reaction
  • In Romans 8, Paul led his students from error to truth by using an ancient style known as the Socratic diatribe.
  • Paul asked rhetorical questions throughout the book of Romans to help probe his readers' minds—it was one of his teaching methods (see 3:1; 3:9; 3:27; 4:1; and 6:1).
  • In verse 31, Paul asked, "what then shall we say to these things?" Paul referred to the truths he'd already spoken about in chapters 1-7, including:
    • There is no condemnation; we're adopted children of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit with new power to live the life He wants for us. We will share in future glory with Him. God foreknew you, called you, justified you, and will glorify you.
A Question of Opposition
  • Do you know that God is for you? Many, including Jacob, Job, and Jeremiah, didn't always think so.
  • The word if is a Greek conditional participle which signifies a fulfilled condition. It means "since God is for us." If puts the gavel down and says, "There is therefore now no condemnation" for you (8:1); if declares that we have been justified; if adopts you and gives you an inheritance with Christ
  • God is for us, but many are against us: e.g., Satan, the world, and demons. If God is for you, who cares who's against you. Gideon, David, and Jonathan knew this, and we should know this.
A Question of Qualification
  • Paul closed this section with thegrace of God. If you are tempted to question God's love for you, remember what He's done for you.
  • God gave the greatest gift in Christ, so anything else is chump change. In Christ, God freely gives us all things. In Christ we have eternal life.
A Question of Accusation
  • Paul used legal terms in this verse to describe the charge against God's people. Only God, who justifies, can level a charge against us. Satan may accuse us, but he is simply the prosecutor.
  • Satanpoints out our weakness, mistakes, failures, and lack of fervency for God. The thing is, it's all true: we are failures—we are weak, and we are sinners.
  • We should care more about God's declaration than Satan's accusation.
A Question of Condemnation
  • Paul asked the next question in verse 34: "who is he who condemns?" We know one answer—Satan. But sometimes, we don't need any outside help, our own hearts sometimes condemn us (see I John 3:20).
  • It's liberating to understand that God is not heavenly Highway Patrol, or a celestial principal, but is a loving Heavenly Father. Jesus loves us and prays for us.
  • During our final exam, God will ask, "Why should I let you in?" We can't pass the exam on our own; we need the One who stands in for us, providing the answer—Jesus.
Practice

Connect Up: God sometimes asks rhetorical questions to reveal the truth. Refer to the following verses to determine the heart of the question. What do you learn about God and what He's communicating?
  • Genesis 3:1-13 ("Where are you?"); Exodus 4:1-5 ("What is that in your hand?"); Exodus 14:5-25 ("Why do you cry to me?"); Joshua 7:1-15 ("What are you doing down on your face?"); I Kings 19:1-18 ("What are you doing here?"); Job 38:4 ("Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"); Job 38:36 ("Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart?"); Isaiah 40:27-31 ("Why do you complain?"); Ezekiel 37:1-14 ("Can these bones live?")
Connect In: One of the themes Pastor Skip touched on is grace. How is grace central to the Christian faith and the church? Discuss this story about C.S. Lewis:"During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. 'What's the rumpus about?' he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity's unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, 'Oh, that's easy. It's grace.'"1 Do you agree with Lewis? Why or why not?

Connect Out: How is Pastor Skip's final question "Why should I let you in?" the most important question when reaching out to unbelievers? How would you explain that we can't pass the exam on own; we need the One who stands in for us. What are some of the answers/excuses you've heard from unbelievers? How would you respond to the various answers given (based on your group's input)?

1 GraceGuy's Blog, "What's so unique about Christianity? C.S. Lewis Answers," December 5, 2010, http://www.graceguy.org/blog-posts/whats-so-unique-about-christianity-cs-lewis-answers, 10/21/2019.

Transcript

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A Midterm Exam - Romans 8:31-34 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

The name of my message today in Romans 8 is called a midterm exam. Now, let me just see a show of hands, honest hands, how many of you did not like to take tests when you were in school? Raise your hands. Yes, yes, most of us. I love y'all.

[LAUGHTER]

But now wait, how many of you actually did like to take tests? Raise your hand. Yeah, there's a few of you like that. I'm trying to love you.

[LAUGHTER] Really hard. Wow. Most students don't like exams because it requires extra effort, brainpower, preparation. I remember I had a physics teacher who loved pop quizzes. And every time he said, we're going to have a pop quiz today, the whole class groaned. We hated it because we were not ready for it.

A father was talking to his son and said, why did you get such a low score on that exam? And the boy said, absence.

[LAUGHTER]

The father said, you mean you were absent on the day of the exam? And he said, no, but the boy who sits next to me was.

[LAUGHTER]

One man even explained, exams are like girlfriends. Too many questions. Difficult to understand. More explanation is needed. Result is always fail. [LAUGHTER]

Tests, exams, have questions. Questions are written by the professor to see if the student has assimilated the information, has accumulated the knowledge, or if there's weak areas the student needs to bone up on, work on. So can I graduate this student to a higher level, a higher grade, or a higher level of knowledge? A test will determine that.

One student said, there's only one thing I hate more than taking tests in school, and that's the grade I get after taking tests in school. Nobody likes them. Well, a few of you do.

Right here, in the middle of the book of Romans, we have a series of questions that I'm calling a midterm exam. The questions begin in verse 31. They kind of continue to the end of chapter 8. We're going to look at versus 31 through 34.

But consider it a midterm exam because the book of Romans has 16 chapters. We're in the eighth chapter. That's sort of right in the middle. And Paul gives a series of questions. You will not be graded by your answers, at least from me. These questions are simply put there to drive home the point the author is making.

Now, let's just back up. You've noted that Paul the Apostle likes questions. He asks a lot of them in this book. And that's noteworthy, that part of his style in writing the book of Romans was an ancient literary method of question and answers, an ancient style called the diatribo, or the diatribe.

It was a Socratic method, taught by Socrates, where there would be questions and answers given by the speaker, by the author in this case, for a very specific reason. That is to challenge assumptions, to clarify notions and ideas, and to lead a student from, perhaps, error into truth to clarify certain truths. So throughout the book of Romans, Paul has an imaginary conversation between a critic and himself, and he asks questions and then answers them.

Here's a sampling. In Chapter 3 verse 1, Paul asks, what advantage then has the Jew? He answers it, much in every way. And he explains it.

In Chapter 3 verse 9, what then are we better than they? Not at all, for it is written. Very similar.

Chapter 3 verse 27, he asks, where is boasting then? It is excluded by what law? Of works? No, by the law of grace.

Chapter 4 verse 1, what shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh, question mark? What does the scriptures say? Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

So he follows that way of teaching throughout the letter, even in chapter 6 verse 1, shall we continue in sin? The grace may abound. God forbid.

Now, we get to a section, right in the middle of the book of Romans, where he just asks question after question after question after question after question. A couple of them have comments, but most of them are questions. Look at chapter 8 verse 31.

What shall we say then to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died and, furthermore, is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. So here, in this section that we just read, it's a little bit different than what he has written before in terms of questions.

He is sort of layering question upon question upon question as if to say there is nothing more I can say to this. There's nothing left to add. So he just sort of crescendos it with questions to make a point. Look at it like it's the icing on the cake of God's love for you.

Now, we're going to look at each of these five questions in these verses. And we're going to look at it like a midterm exam. We're going to answer these five questions. The first question is a question of reaction, reaction.

Look at verse 31, just the first part. What then shall we say to these things? Stop there. That's the first question. What then shall we say to these things? So the very first question Paul asks is a question that should cause a reaction. He's wondering what is your response to the truth so far.

But it makes us ask a question. When he asks this question, we asked this question. He says, what shall we say to these things? We go, what things are you talking about?

So let me try to answer that. Number one, maybe he means all the things I've written about so far in eight chapters, the whole book of Romans. So the whole book of Romans so far is about the wrath of God, that it's eclipsed by the grace of God.

So the first few chapters, we're under the judgment of God. Every human being faces that. But God in His grace sent Jesus and justifies people based on faith. He could mean that, all of the eight chapters.

Number two, when he says, what shall we say to these things, these things could simply be the truths that he has written about in the eighth chapter alone. And what are those truths?

Well, there's no condemnation to those who were in Christ. We're adopted children of God. We were in dwelt by the Holy Spirit, so we have a new power to live a new life. And we have promised glory beside.

Or third possibility, he could mean just the things I wrote about in the paragraph before this. What shall we say to these things, things like all things were together for good to those who were in Christ Jesus, that he fore knew you, that he predestined you, that he called you, that he justified you, and that, one day, he will glorify you. Either way, take your pick of those truths.

From that paragraph to the whole chapter to the whole book, here's the question-- what shall we say to these things? What do you say to that? Yeah, how about thank you Jesus, hallelujah, or at least wow? It should evoke some response. These things should evoke the deepest gratitude, the deepest humility, and the deepest appreciation.

The fact that he asked this question, the first question in the midterm exam, is this principle-- how do you and I respond to spiritual truth? That's a good question. How do you and I respond to spiritual truth?

Obviously, God wants a reaction. Obviously, he wants a positive reaction. We should at least apply it to our lives. The truth should be worn by the believer. It should make a difference in the way we live.

So ask yourself this. When you hear truth, are you, A, enthusiastic about it, B, indifferent to it? C, are you open to it if it agrees with you, but if it doesn't agree with you, I'm not open to it? Those are important lines of questions.

JI Packer wrote a great book every Christian should read, in my opinion, called Knowing God. And in that book, he writes, "Whenever we embark on any line of study in God's holy book, we need to ask ourselves, what is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God once I've got it? For if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it's bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited, for the very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us."

So first question, how do you respond, react, to spiritual truth? Why is that such an important question? Because I'm not just talking about any book. We're talking about God's book.

This isn't a course you take to get into a higher degree program. This isn't just for a promotion at work. We're talking about eternal life stuff. How do you respond, react, to truth about eternal life stuff? I mean, it makes sense that, if God is your teacher, we best listen carefully and respond accordingly.

Did you know that Jesus taught His disciples that they should be very careful how they listen to God? This is what he said, take heed how you hear, not just what you hear. Be very careful about how you listen, for whoever has, to him, more will be given. To him who has not, even that which he seems to have, will be taken away.

So our reaction to spiritual truth determines our action with spiritual truth. Our reaction determines our action. Here's an example.

Psalm 27, David wrote, when you said seek my face, my heart said to you, your face Lord will I seek. As soon as you told me to do that, I said I'm doing it. That is a positive reaction. It's a question of reaction.

What then shall we say to these things? So what that means is, when we come to church and we say turn in your Bibles to-- first of all, it's good to have a Bible with you to be able to look at it because it's spiritual truth. Number two, how am I going to respond to what I hear?

You should determine that before you come, not just at church, but when you have quiet time or you have a small group, a discipleship group. What am I going to do with what I hear? Again, I underscore this because James gives us a warning in chapter 1 of his little epistle, when he writes, do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves.

Do what it says or else, he says, you're like the man who goes to the mirror, checks himself out in the mirror. And then he walks away, and he forgot what he looked at. So do what it says. It's a question of reaction.

The second question on the midterm exam is a question of opposition. Now it gets really good. Second part of verse 31, if God is for us, who can be against us? If God is for us, stop there on that one. Do you know that God is for you?

God, in heaven, is for you. If God is for us, who can be against us? Now, there were people, even in the Bible, who did not think that God was for them.

Job was one of them. He suffered greatly. He lost lots of things. Job, in his prayer to God, at one point, his lowest point perhaps, said these words to God-- why do you hide your face and regard me as your enemy? There's a guy who does not think God is for him at that moment.

Jeremiah even thought along those lines. He was the prophet who predicted a captivity. But when Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonians armies and the temple started burning and buildings started falling, Jeremiah, in lamentations, said, the Lord is like an enemy. He has swallowed up Israel.

The patriarch Jacob didn't think God was for him. We hinted at this last week. It was Jacob who said, all things are against me. And they may have been. He may have felt that way, but maybe everyone was against him.

Let's say everyone was against him. That means everyone except one. God was for him. God is for you.

I found an article from the New York Times, and it's a fascinating article. It was titled, "Googling God". "Googling God". It was an article that explores recent trends in the Google search data. People type in questions about God.

Here's the top three questions people Google about God. Question number one, who created God? Number two, why does God allow evil to exist, or why does he allow suffering? That's pretty predictable.

Here's the third question, most popular question people ask. Ready for this one? Here's the question. Why does God hate me? Why does God hate me?

People actually type in, why does God hate me? Obviously, by that research, there's a significant population base group of people who view God, if there is one, as judgemental, capricious, a tyrant. Why does God hate me?

Paul says, if God is for us, who can be against us? Now, look at the word if. If God is for us. That sounds pretty conditional, right? Well, maybe he is. Maybe he's not. If he is, that's a good thing. If he's not a pretty bad.

Now, it is a conditional word, but listen to this. It's a Greek conditional particle. But it means a fulfilled condition, not a possibility. What that means is a better translation would be, since God has for us, who can be against us? Or because God is for us, who can be against us? It's a fact, not an option. Because of the fact that God is for us, who can be against us?

I think some of you need to wake up tomorrow, and here's the first thought that you need to put in your brain. God is for me. You need to wake up with that. Some of you even need to say the lyrics to the song we've sung around here.

I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who you say I am. In fact, even sing it tomorrow. If you want to know your husband or wife or if your pets won't run away when you do, you may just want to sing that.

But here's the deal. If God is willing to put the gavel down and say, there is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, God is for you. If he is willing to look at your life and say you are justified, that is, if you believe in my son, I'm going to treat you just as if you've never sinned, he's for you. If he is willing to adopt you into his family, as we have previously read-- so you can call God Abba, Father-- and he gives you the same benefits and inheritance as he would even Jesus I would say God is for you, not against you.

I don't know why it is, but there's a lot of people I meet that sort of thing God is like Santa Claus. (SINGING) He's making a list.

[LAUGHTER]

He's checking it twice, going to find out if you're--

Naughty--

--naughty or nice. Here's the truth. God knows you're not nice.

[LAUGHTER]

He knows you're naughty, and he's still for you. God is for you. Now, look at the question. Who can be against us?

Truth is, there are many people who are against or there are many entities who are against you. Let me give you a few. Satan is against us. All of the demons that work for him are against us. The world is against us.

Listen, the enemies of God and unbelievers in general are not for the Christian. I know you've discovered that, some of you. But I'm going to reword the question, if I may. If God has for us, who cares who's against us? Who cares who's against us if God is for us since God is for us? See, they have to go together.

If the God who created the heavens and the earth flung the Milky Way galaxy and other galaxies into existence, put up their Orion's Belt, Betelgeuse, all the other wonderful constellations, if that God is for me, who cares who's against me, right?

[APPLAUSE]

Let me tell you the difference it makes. Let me show you. Knowing that God was for him, David wrote in Psalm 3, I will not be afraid of 10,000 of people who have set themselves against me all around. The only people who could ever say that is, number one, a nutcase or somebody who believes God is for them. Knowing God was for him enabled Gideon with 300 soldiers to fight an army of medanites that had 135,000.

Either a nutcase does that, or somebody who says, you know, with God, one is a majority like Martin Luther taught. If God is going to be with us, it doesn't matter how many-- and by the way, let me even make it more dramatic than that.

When you know God is with you, then you act like Jonathan. Jonathan said to his armor bearer, one time there-- the Philistines are camped over there. Jonathan and his armor bearer are together. And Jonathan comes up with this thought.

He goes, hey, how about if you and I, just us two alone, we attack that army of Philistines? Just us. We don't even need the army. We just-- you and me, we'll go and we'll attack the army because here's how I am thinking, he tells his armor bearer. Nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.

God doesn't need a big army. He could use one, but he did need one. And maybe God will be on our side. Let's just set up a little thing where there is a sign that if God is with us, this is going to happen. And it happened.

One of my favorite preachers is a guy named G. Campbell Morgan from last century. I loved him because he was an expositor of the word. He taught the Bible. His was an extraordinary life.

But one of my favorite stories about him, as told by his daughter Jill in a biography about him, is when G Campbell Morgan was a young seminary student. Just graduated and wanted to pastor a church. And so he candidated for a church position.

Well, you had to go through a doctrinal examination followed by a live preaching in which I think should be mandatory today. He passed the theological part of it, the written test. But then he had to give a message in a room that normally sat 1,000 people. There were three professors and 75 onlookers. He froze.

Some know what that's like. At baby dedications, I have people parents who go, I don't know how you stand in front of all those people. I just-- And he did that. Morgan just sort of froze up and did poorly, and so he was rejected.

He didn't make it. He wired his father that one word-- rejected. Rejected. His father immediately wired back, rejected on earth. Accepted in heaven. Rejected on earth. Accepted in heaven.

So you're rejected on earth. So what? You're accepted in heaven. That's a good dad.

So we have a question of reaction, a question of opposition. We're still working our way through the exam. The third question is a question of qualification.

Look at verse 32. Here's the question. He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Now, I have to apologize.

I apologize because verse 32 is so rich it deserves its own sermon, just that verse. But I'm just skipping it. I'm just skimming it. This is part of the midterm exam. The question asked in verse 32 is very logical as well as very theological.

See, Paul is closing out his section on the grace of God. He's going to begin a whole new section in chapter 9. Book of Romans, as you remember, lays like this-- the wrath of God, then the grace of God, then the plan of God, then the will of God. That's the whole book.

He wraps up his section on the grace that eclipses the wrath. And throughout the book of Romans, he keeps pointing back to the cross of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Now he brings it up again. He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all-- that's the crucifixion-- how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

So are you tempted to doubt the love of God for you? Are you tempted to doubt the grace of God toward you? Are you tempted to believe that God is for you? Then you need to look at what he's already done for you.

You need to look back at the cross. That's what he's already done for you. This is called an argument from greater to lesser or an a fortiori argument as they say in the law courts. I'm going to start with the greater, and I'm going to argue from the greater the lesser.

Since God already gave the supreme and costliest gift possible, then the rest is chump change. The rest is easy. Like that old saying that you've seen on Pinterest or on bumper stickers, I asked Jesus how much he loved me. And he stretched out his arms and said this much. And he died.

If God was willing to give the costliest, ultimate gift of His only begotten Son, how shall He not with him also freely give us all things? Paul likes that phrase, all things, right? All things work together for good. He'll give you freely all things. He says against in another couple of epistles.

So let me ask you this. What do you need today? Well, I need a job. OK, fair enough. I need money for rent. Legitimate. I need insurance. I don't have any insurance.

All of that's good. A job, money, insurance, all of those things are important. But they are nothing in comparison to what God has already given in Christ. I think you would agree with that.

So here's how it works. If you buy a fine watch, I guarantee you this, the store is going to give you with the watch, a really nice case. It comes with it. You don't have to pay extra for it. It comes with it.

If you go to Sunglass Hut, buy a nice pair of sunglasses, they're going to give you a little cloth, nice little leather case. In fact, sometimes the case looks cooler than the glasses. Well, that's awesome. No, no extra charge, comes with it.

If you go and buy a brand new car, they might throw in the floor mats. They may, if you talk them into it, put a roof rack on it, depending on what kind of car, maybe a tune up for a year, maybe tinted windows. They're going to throw that in with the price of the car.

DL Moody, who was speaking about this verse, used this illustration. Suppose you went to the best jewelry store. And the shopkeeper brings out the loveliest diamond, the most valuable diamond, and hands it to you and says, it's yours. Gives it to you.

Moody continues. If he gave it to me, do you think I'd hesitate asking him for a piece of brown wrapping paper to wrap it in and take it home? Hey, since you gave me a diamond, do you think you could give me a piece of paper to wrap it in? No, I don't know. That's a little too much.

No, of course not. That's an ultimate gift. So think of it this way. The diamond is God giving you His only Son. All the other things you need is like the wrapping paper in comparison.

Do you need strength? Do you need this discernment? Do you need wisdom? Do you need direction? You need patience? You need healing?

I'm not saying God is going to heal every single person every time if you're a child of God. But sometimes he does. And he certainly wants you to ask.

I don't know why it is we think certain things are big. It's like, I gotta-- I'm going to pray about something. This is a big one, God. This is a hard one. Sit down. You might want to sit down for this, God.

[LAUGHTER]

I've got cancer. I'm not marginalizing that. I've walked through that with my wife. I understand how big that word sounds.

But understand this. To God, cancer is spelled with a little c, not a big c. Christ is the big C. Cancer's the little c. Whatever need you have isn't really like, God sees cancer and a cold like on the same level. One isn't harder than the other for him to fix.

So if God gave you the best and costliest, won't he take care of everything else he knows you need? That's the argument. And it's a powerful one. It's a question of qualification.

Fourth is a question of accusation in verse 33. Now, this is a question that is followed by a statement you'll notice. Who shall bring a charge against God's elect, question? It is God who justifies. That's the declaration.

Now, look at the question. Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? I can think of a few. I've had my share of enemies, accusers, slanders. I've been misunderstood. I've been maligned, both publicly and privately.

In fact, I even have a file in my filing cabinet of letters that I-- and 9/10th of them I've thrown away. But I keep a few to remind me that I've had my share of critics who swore they knew my heart and my motives when they didn't. And you have experienced that as well to some degree.

But when he asked the question, who will bring a charge against God's elect, it is legal language. It's from the law courts. It speaks of a formal accusation in court. And a better translation would be, who will press charges?

Who will press charges against God's elect? Let me ask you this. Who-- more than anyone else can think of. Who charges you with mistakes that you've made and sins you've committed? Who does that?

Satan. I hear that a lot. Satan, Satan, Satan-- sorry to invoke his name like that. He does.

The very name Devil, Diablolos, is a word that means slanderer, or one who defames. That's his MO. He does that a lot. Revelation 12 verse 10 he is called the accuser of the brethren who accuses them before God, day and night.

All the dirt on you that he knows, he's reminding God of day and night. You've heard those voices in your own head. You call yourself a Christian. You think God's going to answer that prayer?

You know, the devil really is a creep. I know you know that. That's not like, wow, that's a revelation.

[LAUGHTER]

But here's what I mean specifically by that. Before we sin, he tempts us. After we sin, he taunts us. Before we sin, he tempts us and says, go ahead. Do it. You can get away with it.

Then, once we commit the sin, he taunts us and says, you'll never get away with that. He's really good at accusing. He did it with Job.

God showcased Job to the angelic realm, and Satan happened to be there. He said, have you considered my servant Job who is blameless and upright? There's nobody on earth like him. Immediately, Satan started accusing Job.

He said, does Job fear God for nothing? You've put a hedge around him. You protect him. Listen, he's a mercenary.

He only serves you and loves you because of what you give him. Take all that stuff away. He will curse you in your face. It's an accusation.

In the book of Zechariah, the prophet, in the Old Testament in the third chapter, he has a vision. He said, then He showed me Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. Accused the high priest, the guy who gives his life for the sake of the people of God? Yeah, there's Satan accusing him.

So all of this must mean that he is eager to point out our weaknesses, our mistakes, our failures, our lack of fervency. And here's the thing. It's all true. It's all true.

All the dirt he can think up on Skip, it's all true. I am a failure. I am weak. I am a sinner.

So he can accuse, and I'll just say, amen. Amen to that. Well, that's true, too. I forgot about that. But that's true. I did that. I thought that.

But then I'm going to close by saying this. So what? What do you mean so what? Yeah, so what? Because it says, who will bring a charge against God's elect? Look at this statement. It is God who justifies, end of discussion. End of discussion.

John Newton-- we just sang a song a few minutes ago, Amazing Grace. It was written by a guy named John Newton who was a slave trader. He got converted radically to Christ. Toward the end of his life, he lived an extraordinary life.

But John Newton said, you know, my memory fades. And I've forgotten a lot of things. But there's two things I know. I know, number one, I'm a great sinner. And I know, number two, Jesus is a great savior.

I'm a great sinner. I know that. Amen to that. But I know Jesus is a great savior, end of debate. It is God who justifies. Satan is just the prosecutor.

God is the judge. God is the one who puts the gavel down at the end of the court and says, you're forgiven, or you're not forgiven. And he says, it is God who justifies. So I care much more about God's declaration of me than Satan's accusation of me.

By the way, since I've brought up Satan, you should really be glad that he is your enemy. I know you're looking at me like, are you a nut case? I should be glad that the devil is my enemy. Oh yes, that should make you--

That's such good news. You go, I'm glad. You go, explain that. I'll let Charles Spurgeon explain it. He said, there's something very comforting in the thought that the devil is my adversary. I'd sooner have him for an adversary than for a friend.

The fact that he hates you so much proves you're on the right side. The fact that he accuses you so much proves you're on the right side. You want him-- if you're going to have any relationship with the devil at all-- and you will-- it should be that he's your enemy and not your friend.

Some of you will remember an old hymn. The words go, I hear the accuser roar of ills that I have done. I know them well and thousands more. Jehovah findeth none. All of those accusations may be true. But God doesn't find any because it is God who justifies.

So that's a question of accusation. The fifth and final question that follows on the heels of that is a question of condemnation. Verse 34, who is he who condemns? Then he gives a longer declaration, it is Christ who died, furthermore, has also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Again, look at the question. Who is he who condemns? Who is he who condemns? Who condemns you?

OK, I know you're going to say Satan. It was sort of a trick question because sometimes we don't need any outside help. Am I right? Sometimes you don't need anybody accusing you.

It can all be right up here. Your own heart condemns you from time to time. Even John foresaw that. In first John, chapter 3, he said, for if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart. And he knows all things.

Sometimes I don't need any outside reminding. I have to carry around those self condemnatory thoughts. We all do. But what a liberating day when you realize that God is not a heavenly, highway patrolman, state policeman, waiting for you to go one mile over the speed limit to give you a ticket. God is not your celestial vice principal.

He's your Heavenly Father. And he's done something. He sent Christ to die, verse 34, not only die for you in your place but rise from the dead, conquering death, promising you Resurrection as well and who is at the right hand of God who makes intercession for us. What that means is is that Jesus' work is not done.

Oh yes, the cross is done. But there's a second part of his work, right now taking place in heaven. Jesus is at the right hand of God, rooting for you. Have you ever had somebody come up--

Let's just suppose after the service has end, which is just a couple of minutes, somebody walks up to you and says, hey, it's good to see you. I just want you to know something. I've been thinking about you all week.

You've been on my mind. You've been on my heart. And I've been praying for you every day. How does that make you feel?

Pretty stinking good. Wow, really? I'm honored. You've been thinking of me? And then you've been praying for me? That means so much to me.

But listen, listen. Jesus prays for you. Jesus talks to the Father about you on your behalf, rooting for you. He makes intercession for you, it says. In fact, in the book of Hebrews, it says, He ever lives or always lives to make intercession for us.

He did it on the cross. Arm are outstretched. He's bleeding. First words out of his mouth, Father forgive them. They don't know what they're doing.

One day, Jesus walked up to Peter and said, Peter, Satan's been asking me about you. Now, that would unnerve me.

He wants to sift you like wheat, Jesus told Peter. He's been asking about you. He wants to sift you like wheat. I'm thinking immediately, what did you tell him?

[LAUGHTER]

What was your reaction? Satan has been asking for you. He wants to sift you like wheat. But Peter, I have prayed for you that your faith fail not. And when you are recovered, strengthen your brother.

What an honor. He prayed for me. He ever lives to make intercession for us. I'm going to close by fast forwarding all the way from the midterm exam to the final exam by way of a story.

True story-- this was written to us or for us by Steve Winger from Lubbock, Texas, who wrote a true story about a classroom setting, a final exam in a logic class. I think it was a college logic class. So this is a class where the professor was notorious for being very difficult, very shrewd.

His tests were very hard. It was not an easy course to take or pass. Final exams were coming up. The professor said to the students that they could bring to the class, to the test, as much information as could fit on a single piece of notebook paper.

So that's pretty good. You come to class with answers. You can bring whatever you can fit on a single sheet of notebook paper. Well, most of the students heard that, went home, and wrote really tiny--

[LAUGHTER]

--answers on both sides of an 8 and 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper to get ready for this. And they brought their little paper to class, all of them except one student. One student came to class with a blank sheet of paper, placed it on the floor in front of his desk, brought in an Advanced Logic student to stand on the paper facing his desk.

[LAUGHTER]

He's on the paper, on the single sheet of paper. And as he read through the test questions and whispered the questions up to him, and he answered them and he wrote all the answers down, he was the only one in the class to get an A.

[LAUGHTER]

Logic, right? Smart. He passed. Think of the final exam. When it's the end of the age, when it's the end of your life, and God looks at you and says, question, why should I let you into my heaven? Possible answer, I tried hard. [CLICK] You get an F on the exam.

I went to church once a month. You fail on the exam. I went to church every week. I'm sorry. That's not enough. I was raised by good parents.

You know, whatever it might be, all of that falls short. You need somebody who will stand in for you, who doesn't just know the answers but who is the answer, who is the way and the truth and the life. And that one is Jesus Christ. There will be a final reckoning one day.

[APPLAUSE]

And so God will ask, what have you done with my Son? What have you done with my advanced logic student? Have you let Him be your answer? Or have you just tried really hard? because that won't cut it. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

You say, well, this is sort of hard. No, it's the easiest thing in the world. He did all the heavy lifting. He did it all. He died so you don't have to die. He died so you could live.

Well, what do I have to do? Nothing but believe in Him, trust in Him. And if you haven't done that yet, this is your day. I'm telling you. This is your time, right here, right now.

If you remember maybe doing something years ago, you went to a retreat. And you threw a pine cone in the fire, and you felt tingly. And all that was good.

But you don't know what all that was about. You're not walking with Jesus right now. You need to come to Him or come back home to Him. This is your day.

Let's bow our head. Father, as we close this service, we're so thankful for all that we learned through the biblical book of Romans. But more than that, we are thankful for the stand in, Jesus, the way, the truth, the life, the one who is the answer to life's final exam, why we should ever be allowed into your perfect, holy abode.

[GUITAR PLAYING]

Lord, some of us, because of pride, have clung to our upbringing or our efforts or certain works we have done or moneys we have given or things we've accomplished. But all of those are not the right final answer. The final answer lies in the answer you've already given 2000 years ago when you gave Jesus the ultimate gift to us.

So I pray for those who have yet to make a decision to follow Him. I pray they would do it today. Or come back to Him. I pray they would come back to Him today.

I pray, Lord, that You, by Your spirit, would do that. Only You, by Your, spirit can do that. None of us can. There won't be any response at all unless Your Holy Spirit does it and hearts and lives. We pray that You would do that through Your Spirit in these hearts and lives.

So our heads are bowed. Most of us, our eyes are closed. If you're willing to turn your life over to Jesus Christ, ask His forgiveness, He will make you a child of God. He will erase your past. He will write your name in His book of life. He will give you eternal life, and He'll take care of whatever He knows you need along the way.

It doesn't mean life will be easier perfect, far from that. But He'll enter into a covenant with you. If you're willing to do that-- and you have to be willing. While our heads about and eyes are closed-- I'm going to leave mine open-- I want you to raise your hand in the air. If you're willing to do that, to ask Jesus into your life, to be forgiven of your sins, to come to Jesus Christ or to come back to Him, you raise your hand up high enough so I can see your hand and acknowledge your hand.

Then we'll close. God bless you. Yes, ma'am. And a couple of you, right there in the middle to my right. And right over here in the middle toward the back, further toward the back, way in the back to my left, over here to my left, over here to my left. In the family room, a couple of your hands are up, in the balcony. Anybody else, just raise those hands up. Way in the back, right in the middle, in the aisle.

Father, thank You for every single person that represents a life, and You love each one. They are unique and special to You. You have a plan for each one. Thank You for that.

And I pray that as they finalize this decision to say yes to You, they would experience a peace and a joy and a change in their life and a hope that they've never had before. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen. Can I have you all stand up, please.

[APPLAUSE]

We're going to sing one final song. I saw hands go up around the auditorium. We're going to now give you an opportunity to put feet on your face, so to speak. I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands to get up from where you're standing, find the nearest aisle, come stand up here, where I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus called people publicly.

[APPLAUSE]

You can hear the encouragement and the applause. As you do it, we are for you like God is for you. If you're in the family room, come through those doors. If you're outside, there's a pastor who saw you raise your hand. He'll bring you in here.

If you're in the front or in the middle of a row or way in the back or in the balcony, if you're in the balcony, come down those stairs and come right up here. It won't take long.

(SINGING)

Bless you guys.

Good. Come on. Come on over this way. Awesome. Welcome.

It's a decision only you can make. Nobody can make this for you. I wish I could make it for you. I wish I could, but I can't.

It has to be something that's real. It's from your own mind, your own heart, your own choice. And God's waiting for you. Know that your father's waiting for you to come. And all the angels in heaven the Bible say, rejoice. Rejoice. They party.

It's my translation. So when these hearts are coming forward, I just picture the angels going, yes! And so we're just joining them. Anybody else? Anyone else come, right now?

Don't wait. Don't put it off. Don't wait for another opportunity. Today's the day. This is your opportunity.

God loves you. Let him have you. He made you. Let him have you. Give yourself back to him then watch what he'll do in your life. Anybody at all?

[APPLAUSE]

(SINGING) The Father's arms are open wide. Forgiveness. The precious blood of Jesus Christ.

Well, hi, you guys. Listen, I'm not-- I didn't call you forward to embarrass you but to encourage you and to say that you raise your hand, it was the right thing to do. You coming forward is the right thing to do. It's going to be real simple.

I'm going to pray out loud. I'm going to ask you to pray loud after me from your heart. If possible, tune everyone out and just tune Him in. You're saying this word to God.

So say Lord, I give you my life.

Lord, I give you my life.

I know I'm a sinner.

I know I'm a sinner.

Forgive me.

Forgive me.

I believe in Jesus.

I believe in Jesus.

I believe he came from heaven to earth.

I believe he came from heaven to earth.

I believe he died on a cross.

I believe he died on a cross.

That he shed his blood for me.

That he shed his blood for me.

And that he rose again.

And that he rose again.

I turn from my sin.

I turn from my sin.

I turn from my past.

I turn from my past.

I turn to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

I turn to Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Fill me with your Holy Spirit.

Fill me with your Holy Spirit.

Help me.

Help me.

To live for you.

To live for you.

Every day.

Every day.

In Jesus' name.

In Jesus' name.

Amen.

Amen.

Amen.

[APPLAUSE]

Amen. Hey, guess what? Guess what? You believe in Him. I know you do. You said that prayer, and you affirm that. You're saved. You're a child of God. You're my brother.

[APPLAUSE]

I'm your brother. You're my sister. You might be going, I don't know if I want to be related to you. Well, you're stuck with me.

[LAUGHTER]

Right over there is one of our pastors, Antonio. I want all of you to follow him. Our team is going to go with you. We just want to give you something, explain what it means to follow Christ. We're going to help you on this. So follow Antonio. And our gang right over this way. God bless you guys.

How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

[HEARTBEAT]

Additional Messages in this Series

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5/5/2019
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The Heart and Soul of the Gospel
Romans 1:1-7
Skip Heitzig
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Today we embark on a thirty-two-week journey through the book of Romans. Considered to be Paul the apostle’s magnum opus, this book is largely responsible for igniting the fires of the Protestant Reformation and the Wesleyan Revival. As Paul introduced himself to the church at Rome, he got right to the heart and soul of the matter—the gospel—the good news that presents Jesus Christ as God’s great answer to the pressing need of the human race.
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5/19/2019
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Unashamed!
Romans 1:16-17
Skip Heitzig
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Standing up for and speaking out about our faith in Jesus Christ can sometimes feel awkward and intimidating. Often our message is not received with glad faces or with open arms by the people we work with and live next to. As Paul was planning to visit Rome, he expressed eagerness rather than hesitation to herald this message. Why was that? The apostle gives us five reasons for his readiness and enthusiasm.
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5/26/2019
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Is God Mad?
Romans 1:18-32
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The Wrath of God Is Revealed God is full of love, right? Right! That’s the good news. And Paul gets back to that theme and develops it fully in the chapters ahead. But first, there’s some bad news. Like a powerful prosecuting attorney, Paul made the case as to why we need the good news of Christ. God’s grace is necessary because of our guilt. In this section, we learn about the wrath of God—an attribute that many people can’t wrap their heads (and hearts) around.
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7/7/2019
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Four Mistakes Religious People Make
Romans 2:1-11
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Jesus was not a religious leader. He was a righteous leader. And He was often confronting the religious leaders of His day. Likewise Paul found many enemies among the religious elite of his day, among both Jews and Gentiles. After announcing his theme of good news in Jesus, Paul promptly plunged into the bad news of God’s wrath—a subject that religious people sometimes love (but for all the wrong reasons). Paul tells us some of their most common mistakes.
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7/14/2019
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Hypocrisy Gets an Audit
Romans 2:17-29
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All businesses, corporations, and individuals have blind spots. Auditors can help by giving a clear and unbiased reading of practices and procedures, and then give appropriate recommendations for change. Here, Paul played the role of auditing the hypocrite—the one who has spiritual style but no substance. Let’s consider the assets, the deficits, and the net appraisal of the one who wears a spiritual disguise.
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7/28/2019
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The Advantage of Having the Bible
Romans 3:1-8
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Those who have been raised in a home with spiritual foundations and the teaching of Scripture have an edge over those who were never exposed to such benefits. The advantage of having access to the Bible is enormous, but it is not a fail-safe. Paul addressed the Jews who were caretakers of God’s own words, and much can be applied to anyone who has the advantage of revealed truth but fails to take it to heart.
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8/4/2019
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How Prisoners Go Free
Romans 3:9-26
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Freedom is a huge word for the Christian believer. Picture yourself nervously standing in a courtroom before a judge who has just read the pile of evidence against you. Just before the gavel strikes the bench proclaiming your guilt, a piece of evidence strikes his gaze and he unexpectedly announces your innocence. You can now go free! Here Paul explains how any person anywhere can find hope and freedom because of the gospel.
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8/11/2019
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Old Age; Young Faith
Romans 4
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Our skin may wrinkle but our faith never has to. Abraham’s faith was vibrant and youthful even when he was nearing one hundred years of age. As Paul points to the patriarch Abraham as an example for justification by faith, we can learn what it means to believe God through all the ages of life. How vibrant is your Christian faith? Have you let cynicism and doubt choke out your confidence in God?
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8/18/2019
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Our Benefits Package
Romans 5:1-5
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Why is being a Christian so great? Every unbeliever you meet is asking that question as they observe your life. What are the benefits of living with a committed faith in Jesus? After explaining what it means to be right with God by believing in Christ, and after illustrating that principle with Abraham, Paul gives a short list of some of the benefits of a saved life.
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8/25/2019
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Unrivaled Love
Romans 5:6-11
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Modern wisdom continually tells us, “Love is a verb,” rather than a sentimental feeling. Love is a commitment that involves action. For the first time in the letter to the Romans, Paul introduced the word love and a very singular kind of love—God’s love for us. Wanting to show how secure we are in this salvation, he described the greatest demonstration of love—its proof, its provision, and its product.
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9/1/2019
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A One-Man Show
Romans 5:12-21
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Just one person can do a lot of damage, and conversely just one person can do a lot of good. Paul here showed the effect that Adam brought on by his rebellion and the effect that Jesus bought with His blood on the cross. One caused death. One conveys life. One brought guilt. One bought the gift of grace. The big question is, have you received the gift?
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9/8/2019
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Don’t Look Back
Romans 6:1-7
Nate Heitzig
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9/15/2019
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Winning the War with Sin
Romans 6:11-14
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There is not a person I know who doesn’t struggle with sin. Evil thoughts, bad habits, immoral impulses, and recurring temptations all rear their ugly heads, leaving us exhausted and disappointed in ourselves and wondering if any deliverance is possible. This struggle is real. The war can be fierce. How can we believers (who still have our old natures) win in these battles? Consider this four-step strategy.
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9/22/2019
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The Struggle Is Real
Romans 7:14-25
Nate Heitzig
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9/29/2019
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Safe and Secure
Romans 8:1-11
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As the old saying goes, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That’s certainly true of Paul’s authorship of this book. He closes chapter 7 on a low note, only to crescendo to a swelling high point in chapter 8. “Don’t despair! You’re in secure hands and you’re safe,” Paul tells us. He reminds us of four facts that should settle every heart.
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10/6/2019
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The New You
Romans 8:12-18
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Most people love new stuff: a new car, a new set of clothes, a new puppy, a new haircut, a new adventure. But the best new thing you could have is a new you! Being a Christian isn’t a temporary reformation but a total transformation. When the Holy Spirit gets hold of a person’s life, He begins the process of a total makeover—changing you from the inside out. As a Christian believer these are among the changes you can expect to see.
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10/13/2019
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The Steady Hand of a Caring God
Romans 8:28-30
Skip Heitzig
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The world to many people seems to be a random place where anything can happen. But a believer can (and should) step firmly onto the soil of life. Why? Not just because God exists, but also because God cares! There is not a single atom nor molecule out of place in God’s universe; His hands and heart are steadily controlling your every breath. Let’s examine some of the richest truths about the quality of care from a loving God.
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10/27/2019
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For the Love of God
Romans 8:35-39
Skip Heitzig
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Can anyone really comprehend unconditional love? Perhaps the love that parents have for their children is the closest to unconditional love from a human point of view. But life’s circumstances certainly can challenge the idea that God loves us unconditionally. We’ve all heard about God’s love, we’ve sung about it, and we’ve affirmed it with our “Amens!” But as Paul closes out this section of Romans, he moves us into a fixed and secure confession that no matter what life can throw at us, we need never doubt God’s love for us.
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11/10/2019
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God, the Jew, and You
Romans 9:1-26
Skip Heitzig
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We now come to the third major section of Paul’s letter to the Romans that reveals God’s plan for Jew and Gentile. The early church in Jerusalem was entirely Jewish, but by this point, in most other parts of the world, it had become predominantly non-Jewish. But if God made so many promises to the Jewish nation, does that mean those promises are all now annulled? How does Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah fit into God’s sovereign strategy, and where do we fit in?
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11/17/2019
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Salvation: Reverse Engineered
Romans 10:1, 14-17
Skip Heitzig
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Right in the middle of Paul’s great trilogy about Israel (Romans 9, 10, and 11), he gave an expanded view of how salvation operates. These are the seven components that make up the journey for anyone (Jew or Gentile) who comes to know Christ. Evangelism always begins with God’s sovereign election, but it also involves human cooperation. It takes both someone who will transmit the gospel and someone who will receive it.
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There are 20 additional messages in this series.