Romans 4

Romans 4:1-3 MKJV What then shall we say that our father Abraham has found, according to flesh? (2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has a boast; but not before God. (3) For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.”

There are a number of details that tie this chapter in with the previous chapter. For one thing, this is part of one long letter. Paul is still explaining the same subject. Now Paul is using another example straight from scripture, the story about Abraham. As usual, Paul knew just where to point us to review the story.

Genesis 15:1-10 MKJV After these things the Word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward. (2) And Abram said, Lord God, what will You give me, since I am going childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? (3) And Abram said, Behold, You have given no seed to me. And behold, one born in my house is my heir. (4) And behold, the Word of Jehovah came to him saying, This one shall not be your heir. But he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir. (5) And He brought him outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be. (6) And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness. (7) And He said to him, I am Jehovah that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it. (8) And he said, Lord God, by what shall I know that I shall inherit it? (9) And He said to him, Take Me a heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. (10) And he took all these to himself, and divided them in the middle, and laid each piece against one another; but he did not divide the birds.

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There are more sides to this story than Abraham’s faith, and how God appreciated that faith. We see how Abraham had to rely on God for a son. That shows how God had a plan. It also shows how we have to be patient with God when it comes to His plan. This story also shows a two way conversation between God and Abraham. This showed how God is able to talk to people, and how God chose to communicate with Abraham. God gave Abraham a son, blessings, land, and more. If we looked at the entire story, we would see how Abraham agreed to change one little part of God’s plan, and how that turned out to be a major mistake. Abraham’s first son, Ismael was the father of a whole group of nations that plagued Israel for generations.

God told Abraham to perform a rather odd ceremony. That ceremony lead to a prophecy about Israel and how they were held as slaves in Egypt. Did Abraham understand anything about that prophecy? What if he understood that prophecy? What could Abraham have done to change it? Nothing. Abraham couldn’t get God’s promise right. What could Abraham do about a prophecy he didn’t understand? Not a whole lot. That’s a lesson we need to look at.

Too many people are stuck on prophecies. That is their life, and the only thing they know about religion. They follow self made, modern day prophets who seem to never be right, but that never seem to loose a single member. Being wrongs brings publicity and more members. Why that happens is beyond me. But it does happen. Those modern day prophets make themselves out to be wiser than Abraham, and all the other prophets combined. Isn’t that something David and Isaiah warned about when we looked at the scripture Paul sent us to in the second chapter in his letter?

God made Abraham a promise, and Abraham accepted that promise. Accepting that promise made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes. Is it that easy? Could it be that easy? How did Abraham’s attempt at changing that promise effect his righteousness? The main point is, that one on one conversation with God. That’s where Paul is telling us where we need to be.

Righteousness Without Works

Romans 4:4-8 MKJV But to him working, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. (5) But to him not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (6) Even as David also says of the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness without works, (7) saying, “Blessed are those whose lawlessnesses are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; (8) blessed is the man to whom the Lord will in no way impute sin.”

There are a number of ways to look at Paul’s comment on reward, grace, and debt. Based on Abraham’s life, we can see the lesson showing us what happens when people do a little work on God’s plan. That indeed turned out to be a debt. That is one example. Paul linked the word work to grace. Once again we have to ask, is Paul tying the two together, or using them as a contrast? The word, not, tells us, works and grace are contrasts. The next question to ask is, how do they contrast one another, and what is the lesson?

We can go on for what seems to be forever trying to pin point the difference between works and grace. Grace is free, and works is a form of trying to pay your way into Heaven. Does that mean we put aside all form of works and do nothing but rely on grace? Is that what Paul was trying to explain? I’ve heard it put that way. “We are under grace.” People use that term to more or less reinforce other beliefs. Some people insist grace has canceled the law. As we’ve seen in the previous chapter where faith and the law were compared, faith requires a certain amount of work. Faith requires investigation to formulate a decision. That is a part of faith people tend to ignore, because they confuse faith with grace. Grace is free, and for lack of a better term, faith requires a certain amount of work.

Does grace require any work at all? Let’s take a look at the definition of the word grace.

Grace G5485 χάρις charis khar’-ece

From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

G5463 χαίρω chairō khah’ee-ro

A primary verb; to be full of “cheer”, that is, calmly happy or well off; impersonal especially as a salutation (on meeting or parting), be well: – farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.

We can see that grace is a, “manner or act.” That has nothing to do with the common concept of accepting a gift of grace from Jesus and doing nothing. Grace is a, “divine influence up the heart.” And grace is a reflection upon one’s life. That is one of the definitions of communication with Jesus, and one of the major forms of communication used by the Holy Spirit. In a sense, grace is linked to faith by communication. In a sense, grace requires a certain amount of dedication, growth, and that is achieved with the right form of communication.

On the other hand, work means to labor or toil. Within the context Paul wrote, does work mean to worry, labor over decisions, over think the situation, second guess the information you have, and let the subject consume you? Let’s look at that a moment with the example Paul gave us to examine. Abraham was given a promise. He had no idea how God was going to give him a son. Abraham and Sara thought about the subject so much, they came up with their own solution. They over worked the situation and came up with their own solution. Is that what Paul is trying to teach about works?

On another level, works is often associated with keeping the laws and traditions to work or buy your way into Heaven. In modern Christianity that is so rare, that phase of works is hardly worth commenting on. I have never met a Christian who actually believes they can work their way into Heaven. But I can’t count the number of Christians who preach that side of the subject, leave it at that, and think the answers are covered.

Paul went back to quoting David. In this case, Paul sent us to a Psalm where David expressed his view of forgiveness. Paul is expanding his explanation on the plan of salvation.

Psalms 32:1-11 MKJV A Psalm of David. A Contemplation. Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (2) Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah does not charge iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. (3) When I kept silence, my bones became old through my roaring all the day long. (4) For by day and by night Your hand was heavy on me; my sap is turned into the droughts of summer. Selah. (5) I confessed my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my transgression to Jehovah; and You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (6) For this let every godly one pray to You, in a time when You may be found; surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near him. (7) You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall circle me with songs of deliverance. Selah. (8) I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you, My eye shall be on you. (9) Be not like the horse, or like the mule, who have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, so that they do not come near you. (10) The wicked has many sorrows, but mercy embraces him who trusts in Jehovah. (11) Be glad in Jehovah, and rejoice, you righteous; and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

David covered the all important part of confessing our sins. That is an important part we do not want to skip over, or take lightly. Is confession works? What roles does confession play in grace? A large role.

When we look at David, we see a man who made his share of mistakes, and knew a forgiving God. After David confessed his sins, he found peace, which is part of the definition of grace. David described that peace as a resting place, a place of refuge, a stronghold, a place where he felt protected. Coming from a guy with the military back ground David had, that was the ultimate compliment he could pay to God. When we look at the the definition of grace, we find that definition in David’s Psalm. There is no doubt, David never thought he could work his way into God’s presence, much less Heaven. David knew he had to ask for forgiveness to enter God’s presence and find that peace. That is the lesson we need to learn. How to ask to be forgiven, to be cleansed by the blood Jesus shed, so we can enter into His presence to learn.

Faith and Righteousness

Romans 4:9-15 MKJV Is this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. (10) How then was it reckoned? Being in circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. (11) And he received a sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith while still uncircumcised; so that he might be the father of all those believing through uncircumcision, for righteousness to be imputed to them also; (12) and a father of circumcision to those not of the circumcision only, but also to those walking by the steps of the faith of our father Abraham during uncircumcision. (13) For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. (14) For if they of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is made of no effect; (15) because the Law works out wrath, for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Paul wants us to go back and review Abraham’s story. And we should.

And Abram continued, Look, You have given me no child; and [a servant] born in my house is my heir. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, This man shall not be your heir, but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir. (Genesis 15:3-4 AMP).

This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you. (Genesis 17:10-11 AMP).

God gave Abraham the promise of a child in Genesis chapter 15. The covenant of circumcision was given in chapter 17. Abraham received the promise before he was circumcised. That made a point Paul took advantage of. God called and blessed Abraham before he was circumcised. A lesson the Jews in Rome had to learn.

When we go back to David, we see the lesson Paul is teaching about the law. How could David, or anyone confess sins without laws? That would be impossible. Without the law there could be no confession. Without confession, there would be no cleansing of the heart or soul. Without the cleansing, there would be no way to approach God’s throne, no refuge, no peace, joy, or safety. The law serves its purpose. Grace serves another purpose. Faith and righteousness serve their own purpose. The problem is, people try to bundle them all together and miss all the little details, the steps to the feet of Jesus.

Faith and Grace

Romans 4:16-25 MKJV Therefore it is of faith so that it might be according to grace; for the promise to be made sure to all the seed, not only to that which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (17) (as it has been written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) –before God, whom he believed, who makes the dead live, and calls the things which do not exist as though they do exist. (18) For he who beyond hope believed on hope for him to become the father of many nations (according to that which was spoken, “So your seed shall be”). (19) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body already dead (being about a hundred years old) or the deadening of Sarah’s womb. (20) He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. (23) Now it was not written for him alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but for us also to whom it is to be imputed, to the ones believing on Him who has raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) who was delivered because of our offenses and was raised for our justification.

I did something a little different here to help you follow along with the way I look at scripture. I made a few of the key words BOLD, and underlined what Paul quoted in scripture. Those are two of the most important Bible Study methods I follow. First the key words.

A lot of theologians and authors tend to group words like faith, grace, and righteousness together, giving them the same weight and meaning. We have seen how faith includes a great deal of research, looking to God, and relying on the Spirit for answers to of course, make a decision. What is grace?

GRACE G5485 χάρις charis khar’-ece

From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).

G5463 χαίρω chairō khah’ee-ro

A primary verb; to be full of “cheer”, that is, calmly happy or well off; impersonal especially as a salutation (on meeting or parting), be well: – farewell, be glad, God speed, greeting, hail, joy (-fully), rejoice.

What is righteousness?

RIGHTEOUSNESS G1343 δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunē dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay

From G1342; equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: – righteousness.

G1342 δίκαιος dikaios dik’-ah-yos

From G1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): – just, meet, right (-eous).

G1349 δίκηdikē dee’-kay

Probably from G1166; right (as self evident), that is, justice (the principle, a decision, or its execution): – judgment, punish, vengeance.

G1166 δεικνύω deiknuō dike-noo’-o

A prolonged form of an obsolete primary of the same meaning; to show (literally or figuratively): – shew.

When we look at grace, we see the easy, and most acceptable term used in the definition. Grace does include the concept of a free gift, which is how many people define grace, and stop at that point. Grace includes gratitude, joy, and happiness. Can we be joyful or happy with things we can’t see, or understand? Paul tied faith in with grace for a reason. Faith is the act of searching out the truth. Grace is more than a free gift. Grace is understanding that free gift to the degree, you are happy about it. You are so joyful, you can’t help but share that information. That is another Christian concept that is not poorly explained, and blurred by common Christian traditions.

What does the traditional Christian worship service consist of? Sitting in an audience, listing to someone preach, or teach. That basically covers the investigation process for a lot of Christians. Is that the type of faith, or investigation Paul was teaching about?

Are you happier when you see someone receive a gift, or when you receive a gift? You see, there are degrees of happiness. Marriage, seeing your new baby for the first time, winning the lottery, and a host of other events can bring a great deal of joy. The type of joy people can’t help but see on your face. On the other hand, there are a number of events, like a TV program, reading news in social media, seeing a driver stop their car to let you in, and other minor events that bring a small sense of joy. What level does grace reach in your life?

Can grace ever reach the highest level of joy when you receive the news from anyone else? You have to admit the fact, you feel something missing inside if you have not found that one on one connection with Christ where He explains what He has done for you. Not only on the cross, but during His ministry in Heaven. If a preacher tells you only about the cross, you are missing 99% of the news, and 99% of the joy.

What do we get when we look at righteousness? We see righteousness is equity. What is equity? The most common term for equity relates to a home. People gets a loan to buy a house, makes payments, and a small part of that payment builds equity in the home. Equity relates to value that is built in over time. Paul used Abraham as an example, because Abraham was a great example of a man who built a friendship with God. Abraham had to build up his trust in God, as well as his love for God. Abraham did that through real life events.

Not only did Abraham leave his homeland, Abraham went into Egypt, made a mistake, and came out a rich man. That mistake, lesson, and blessing were repeated. Those events showed how forgiving God was, and how gracious He can be. Each time God blessed Abraham, those blessings built trust, and respect. A process we need to pay attention to.

Genesis 17:1-8 RSVA When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. (2) And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” (3) Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, (4) “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. (5) No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (6) I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. (7) And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (8) And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

We can see how loosely Paul quoted the story about Abraham. This shows how Paul sends people back to read the entire story about Abraham’s life. The good as well as the bad. Abraham’s story tells us about his relationship with God. We all make mistakes, and God will be with us during our mistakes. And, there is always a blessing on the other side of those mistakes. That is a part of God’s grace we don’t hear about everyday. No preacher in the world could stand up and make a list of all of your mistakes and how Jesus walked through them next to you. Of course, who would want a preacher telling them about all the mistakes they made? That is between you and Jesus.

Somehow, Abraham having a child at the ripe old age of 99 is supposed to be an example that can build our faith. In my opinion, that is something you need to sit down with Jesus and talk about. That is a personal issue. The birth of a son always brings joy, especially when you live as long as Abraham did and decided long ago to set aside all hope. Everyone has issues like that – giving up hope before seeing Jesus step in with an answer. That is part of the relationship with God no one can share in the classic worship service. We have to go beyond standardized worship services to find God.

Romans 13:1-5

Romans 13:1-5 KJV Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

It may be rather rough to agree that God appoints all state authorities. This is telling me to take a look at the KJV and a Concordance to look at a few words here.


5293 hupotasso hoop-ot-as’-so

from 5259 and 5021; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey:–be under
obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to,
unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.


5242 huperecho hoop-er-ekh’-o

from 5228 and 2192; to hold oneself above, i.e. (figuratively) to

excel; participle (as adjective, or neuter as noun) superior,

superiority:–better, excellency, higher, pass, supreme.


1849 exousia ex-oo-see’-ah

from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subjectively)
force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery
(concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control),
delegated influence:–authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right,


5021 tasso tas’-so

a prolonged form of a primary verb (which latter appears only in
certain tenses); to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or
dispose (to a certain position or lot):–addict, appoint, determine,
ordain, set.


498 antitassomai an-tee-tas’-som-ahee

from 473 and the middle voice of5021; to range oneself against, i.e.
oppose:–oppose themselves, resist.


1296 diatage dee-at-ag-ay’

from 1299; arrangement, i.e. institution:–instrumentality.


2917 krima kree’-mah

from 2919; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against
(“crime”)):–avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law,

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual between the Greek definitions and how the KJV was translated. But a question arises when we take a look at a modern translation.

Romans 13:1-2 GNB Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. (2) Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself.

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Did you notice how someone, or a committee decided to change the word, “higher,” to “state.” Does it matter which authority Paul wrote about? How do we find out which authority Paul referred to? If we noticed that the majority of those words have in common, we can’t miss the fact, each word is made of of two root words. Let’s take a look at those root words.


5259 hupo hoop-o’

a primary preposition; under, i.e. (with the genitive case) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the accusative case) of place (whither (underneath) or where (below) or time (when (at)):–among, by, from, in, of, under, with. In them comparative, it retains the same general applications, especially of inferior position or condition, and specially, covertly or moderately.

5021 tasso tas’-so

a prolonged form of a primary verb (which latter appears only in certain tenses); to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or dispose (to a certain position or lot):–addict, appoint, determine, ordain, set.


5228 huper hoop-er’

a primary preposition; “over”, i.e. (with the genitive case) of place,
above, beyond, across, or causal, for the sake of, instead, regarding;
with the accusative case superior to, more than:–(+ exceeding,
abundantly) above, in (on) behalf of, beyond, by, + very chiefest,
concerning, exceeding (above, -ly), for, + very highly, more (than),
of, over, on the part of, for sake of, in stead, than, to(-ward),
very. In the comparative, it retains many of the above applications.

2192 echo ekh’-o, including an alternate form
scheo skheh’-o; (used in certain tenses only)

a primary verb; to hold (used in very various applications, literally
or figuratively, direct or remote; such as possession; ability,
contiuity, relation, or condition):–be (able, X hold, possessed
with), accompany, + begin to amend, can(+ -not), X conceive, count,
diseased, do + eat, + enjoy, + fear, following, have, hold, keep, +
lack, + go to law, lie, + must needs, + of necessity, + need, next, +
recover, + reign, + rest, + return, X sick, take for, + tremble, +
uncircumcised, use.


1832 exesti ex’-es-tee

third person singular present indicative of a compound of 1537and
1510; so also
exon ex-on’
neuter present participle of the same (with or without some form of
1510 expressed); impersonally, it is right (through the figurative
idea of being out in public):–be lawful, let,
X may(-est).

1537 ek ek
or ex ex

a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or
motion proceeds), from, out
(of place, time, or cause; literal or
figurative; direct or remote):–after, among, X are, at,
betwixt(-yond), by (the means of), exceedingly, (+ abundantly above),
for(- th), from (among, forth, up), + grudgingly, + heartily, X
heavenly, X hereby, + very highly, in, …ly, (because, by reason) of,
off (from), on, out among (from, of), over, since, X thenceforth,
X unto, X vehemently, with(-out). Often used in composition,
with the same general import; often of completion.

1510 eimi i-mee’

the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a
primary and defective verb; I exist (used only when emphatic):–am,
have been, X it is I, was

When we look a little deeper, we can’t ignore the sense, Paul is referring to God’s authority as the utmost importance, and the people He appoints here as a secondary authority. But that secondary authority must confirm and acknowledge God. Is that to say all people in authority are appointed or ordained by God?

We seem to have stumbled upon a rather strange difference in interpretations. One translation puts authority in God’s hands, while another translation puts authority in the hands of public officials. How can there be such a difference? I’m sure everyone has there own ideas on this subject. Let’s face it, this is a very controversial subject. How do we get to the bottom of this subject? Who really has the authority on this planet?

I’m sure no one would argue the point, God has ultimate authority. So why would anyone replace God’s authority with the government? Did Israel try that when they asked for a king? Who did God say they were rejecting? “Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. (1 Samuel 8:7 NLTse). We have to consider the fact, this is one translation out of one hundred compared to the KJV. But why would anyone change such a thing?

When it comes to Satan, one thing leads to another. There should be no doubt, whenever Satan can cast into this world, another doubt will follow. Followed by another and another. Whenever Satan can worm his way into one translation, he gains access to change a little here and there. That is one reason why it is dangerous to compare different translations to find one that suits personal preference. There are far better ways to study the Bible. When the Holy Spirit tells you to look up a word, look it up. When there are two or more words to look up, look them up in the Concordance. When those words are made up of compound words, look those up. Dig deep enough to find the root meaning.

We never know where deceptions will come from next. When we find out Bible translations can deceive us, where do we turn? To the story at hand in the Bible. Look back a few chapters in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul warned about putting too much emphasis on the law. So when we see the law mentioned later in his letter, we need to pay attention to all the facts involved.

I could go on for another chapter about how governments create laws, with loop holes for some, and additions or amendments to that law, but why? Governments are a testimony to God. Governments constantly change laws. That is a deception in itself. People see governments constantly creating and changing laws, then people begin to think God does the same thing. People have been trained by the prince of this world to think the way he wants people to think. The devil wants people think God is modeled after this world. That is backwards thinking. God never changed a single law. God’s law is perfect, constant, and consistent. But people have been trained to think, if governments change, so does God.

Then there is that constant search for authority. Everyday people look for the prefect leaders. They think governments are able to solve all the problems. People want to trust government leaders. Or blame all the problems on government leaders. In either case, governments stand in place of God and often act like little gods. Governments have become idols in the minds of their people.

Elected and appointed officials inside governments have an insane quest for power and control. Parties and people inside those parties often oppose one another not because one answer is right and the other wrong. Or one way of doing things is better than another way. They often oppose one another to make a point, or earn points. Publicity is a driving factor in modern governments. When we take a step back to compare any world government to God, we should see a drastic difference that should horrify us. But people as entrenched in the belief, nothing will ever change. So it is better to just live with a corrupt and mixed up government and try to survive.

When we see one Bible translation replacing God’s authority with state officials, where is that going to lead? We have to look at doctrines from that point. It is not uncommon for Christian churches to claim an equal or higher authority than the state. It is common practice for churches to place themselves between God and His people. It is so common, people are often ostracized for pointing out the direct connection with God written about in scripture. It’s not difficult to see how placing state authority on the top made it easy for church leaders to trump that move by placing themselves above and beyond state authorities. And it is not difficult to play the, “persecuted card.” Play the part of the humble servant to the state, which leads to an excuse to accomplish little or nothing, and you can sit back, relax, and use the government as a fantasy scapegoat for just about everything. There is no telling how far one little change to God’s Word will lead.

So how do we tell if people are ministering for God, or for themselves? We have to go back to the explanation of the Spiritual gifts Paul wrote about. We have to pay attention to the concept those gifts are presented and compare that to the actual Greek meaning of each word describing each gift. When we see churches and church leaders taking over control of those gifts, what does that tell us? Are they ministering for themselves, or for God? A true man of God never stands in God’s place. A true man of God knows the path to God’s throne, and is able to describe that path, share that path, provide directions, but never forge a new path that actually leads away from God’s throne with each and every step.


Romans 3:1-4

Romans 3:1-4 NLTse Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? (2) Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. (3) True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? (4) Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.”

Of course it would do us no good to look at Romans chapter 3 without a review of Romans chapter 2. One of the best reviews is to look at how Paul closed the previous chapter. “No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.” (Romans 2:29 NLTse).

Let me show you a little study habit you will want to use whenever you see a verse or story someone explained to you, that just doesn’t seem to fit in with your view when reading a chapter or two. Look at the introduction and summation of the chapter. In this case, we will go back and look at the end of Romans chapter 2 before moving onto chapter 3.

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. (Romans 2:1 NLTse).

Some people may ask, what does the judgment and condemnation at the beginning of chapter 2 have to do with circumcision at the end of the chapter? Everything. You have to realize, Paul wrote one long letter, not the short list of do’s and don’t’s we are normally spoon fed by theologians. I have no idea where or how they learned their study habits, but cutting the Bible apart to make a point is not found in scripture. Putting verses, letters, books, and stories together is part of Bible Study. Here we are putting Paul’s letter together the way it was written.

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Paul wrote about the wrongful practice of condemning people. Paul was focusing on the Jews and their attitude. Paul told them to look at themselves before condemning the world around them. Chapter 2 simply pointed out the fact, circumcision, an outward show, does not make them a real Jew. In the eyes of a Jew, God only recognized one race, one group of people Paul was trying to break that tradition. Paul had to show two sides to the story, the negative and the positive. Jews were fed the legalistic view of the scriptures, which placed the spotlight on themselves, and a rather dim view of God, and shut the lights off on the plan of salvation. To get to the Good News, Paul had to add a positive look at what the Jews had and build off of that. In this case, a positive relationship with God was the key. God was not the exacting, demanding, legalistic god the Jewish culture made Him out to be. They learned that from surrounding Pagan religions. Bits and pieces of Pagan gods fell into practice every time the temple switched sides between God, and all those Pagan religions some of the kings introduced. All of those stores were included in the Bible, and in fact, repeated for a reason. So we could see how the enemy introduces one small change at a time. One king brought a Pagan god and religion into the temple. A generation or two later, another king cleaned out the temple. To the untrained eye, all seemed to be set right with God. But when we look at the details, kings would only go so far with their reforms. Only a portion of God’s original system was brought back into the temple, and dozens of Pagan articles and ideas remained. It all became a mixture. The devil didn’t have to completely eliminate God, all he had to do was draw people far enough away to make worship a thing that could be compromised, altered, changed, and directed by men. That’s all it took, the introduction of man over God in the worship service. That’s what Paul was trying to tell the Jews. They worshiped themselves more than God. The Jews thought their form of worship was better than what God was asking for. They lost the roots of worship, which was to prepare this world for the one sacrifice that would redeem, or buy back this world from the master of sin.

We can’t really understand the end of chapter 2 without turning the page to chapter 3. Paul told the Jews to stop judging people, because they had the wrong view on the scriptures and the true worship of God. Much of the law, and the entire sacrificial system looked forward to Jesus and His sacrifice. The sacrificial system and some of the laws were symbols. There were also hundreds of prophecies the Jews misinterpreted. The problem was, the Jews cut apart the scriptures. They divided the laws from the prophecies, then used personal views on the world they lived in to interpret all the prophecies. That’s one of the major problems we see today. If the Jews would have combined the sacrificial system and sections of the law with the prophecies, they would have received a different, more accurate view of the Messiah.

Most of the prophecies about Jesus were reveled by real life experiences some of the Jews witnessed. The priests and experts on religious law followed Jesus closer than anyone, observing His every move. But they couldn’t put what they saw together with the prophecies, even though Jesus sent them back to dozens of prophecies He fulfilled, or was about to fulfill. Jesus showed those Jews one of the ways the Spirit communicates with us. But something blinded them. They didn’t have the Spirit to guide them. The Spirit was alive and active. Jesus talked with the Spirit everyday. The same Spirit was available to the Jews, but they rejected the offer. They decided to stick with their old ways. The Jews were enslaved by tradition.

When Jesus sent the priests back to scripture, He was showing how the Spirit communicated with them, through scripture, and real life events. The combination of the two should have been enough to jump start the Spirit inside the priests, but they didn’t want to put the two together, any more than they wanted to restudy the prophecies, the sacrificial system, and the law together. To the Jews, they needed to be separate, and that was their final decision.

I see people making the same mistake today. People get stuck on a single subject. They cut through the scripture concentrating on that single subject. Like the Jews, they isolate that one subject from the rest of scripture, By doing so, they cut the Holy Spirit from their study, They not only miss out on the Spirit, but all the little treasures He was about to show them.

Although Paul was trained in that prison of tradition for most of his life, he was shown the way out. There was nothing wrong with the laws or sacrificial system, except for how they were viewed and practiced. It proved difficult to convince some of the Jews, the sacrificial system was gone. The only way to do that was to show what those symbols pointed to. There were advantages to being a Jew, and Paul had a real life experience to show them one piece of living evidence, there had to be major changes in the Jewish culture and religion.

The Jews knew the sacrificial system. Not the same system God introduced to Moses, but an altered system changed over generations designed to control the population. Sacrifices were added from time to time. David sacrificed thousands of animals to transport the Ark. Solomon created his own sacrificial system to dedicate his temple. Seeming small changes took the eyes of the Jews off the symbolism of the sacrificial system and set their views upon an exacting and demanding God. If a few sacrifices are required, more is better. They turned God into one of those Pagan gods who always demanded more. There became no rhyme or reasoning behind the death of those animals except for, God said so. Or to be more accurate, God may have left out a few sacrifices. The Jews looked on the sacrificial system as a set of suggestions open to human refinement. By tinkering with the original sacrificial system, the original view and lesson was lost.

The Jews should have seen the connection between the sacrificial lamb and Christ. But they missed it. They should have understood other symbols in the Tabernacle like the bread, table, the alter of incense, those angels embroidered on the curtains, the wash basin, and others. The problem was, all those items were left at the Tabernacle and forgotten. Each item was replaced by a larger, grander substitute that blurred the meaning of each of those symbols.

When the Jews placed the sacrificial system in one group to study, the laws in another group, and prophecies in a third group, they placed their own name made curtain over the everything. No one could understand the prophecies that pointed to the Messiah without putting all three together. But the Jews insisted, if you chose to study the laws, stick to the laws. If you excelled in sacrifices, keep your nose in the sacrifices. And if you excelled in prophecies, you joined a group specializing in prophecies. Experts in the law did not question views on the sacrificial system, and those concentrating on the sacrificial system didn’t question interpretations of prophecies. That mind set spread into the general public, and misled the entire nation.

The Jews should have seen that circumcision alone wouldn’t do them any good. If they went back to the original story, they would have seen that Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised on the same day. God promised to make Ishmael the father of many nations. Those nations became a thorn in Israel’s side, and continued to be among their greatest threat. Circumcision didn’t change Ishmael. That was one of the lessons they were supposed to learn, as well as see in themselves.

To follow up on his explanation, Paul did what he did best. He quoted scripture. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” This time Paul made it plain to see he was quoting scripture. He didn’t want anyone to miss this one. But the way Paul quoted it, the actual scripture may be a little difficult for people to find.

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight; That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. (Psalms 51:1-14 NKJV).

We have to keep in mind, Paul was referring to God’s judgment, and courtroom in Heaven. That was where Paul was trying to direct the Jews. Since Paul created the scene, we should take a look at it. Who doesn’t want to be cleansed and purged of sin before entering God’s court to face judgment? Isn’t that the ultimate goal when people accept Jesus for the first time? The entire Christian faith is based on Jesus’ ability to forgive sins, cleanse us, and make us clean on judgment day. But is that what Christians teach? Paul made it rather clear, or shall I say, Paul sent us back to David, who made it rather clear, we have to rely on God’s ability to cleanse us from our sins. Which is of course the plan of salvation. When we realize there is a cleansing process, we are supposed to go out and teach other people, so they are prepared for judgment.

I feel many churches like to take the edge off the judgment process and soften it up. Who talks about judgment day anyway? Churches feel it is much kinder to say, “Jesus died for your sins.” Then they leave the rest up to the people to figure out. Well why did Jesus have to die? To forgive our sins, is about the only answer you’ll likely to find in the fluffy world of Christianity. They are not going to teach you much about the judgment process. Everyone will stand in front of God’s throne to be judged. At least in the spiritual sense, your name will be called, and no one really knows exactly how the judgment process will proceed. Is your life reviewed in Heaven? Do they go by a set of notes in your book of life? Does Jesus say He died for this person, and that person, and it is a quick trial? The Bible doesn’t seem to cover those details. And no one seems to want to talk about them. David did to one extent. David had to admit he was a sinner. From that point, there was a process to cleanse that sin, throw it away, do away with it, to make sure none of that sin was around when that moment of judgment came around. Paul wanted the Jews to remember that moment. Would it be a fearful time, or can you really claim Christ as a your Savior?

We have to consider what Paul was going through. In his time, the idea of a man dying for the sins of the world was rather new. Up to that time, the Jews believed an animal had to die to cleanse people from their sins. Now Paul was introducing the concept of God’s Son coming to this world to teach and heal parts of this world. Then God’s Son was killed by, of all people, the religious leaders who were supposed to ensure every animal sacrifice was conducted in the proper manner, so people were actually forgiven for their sins, and didn’t have a thing to worry about if they happened to suddenly die. They would be sinless, and able to stand before God. That was the basic process the Jews believed in. To change that would have been a monumental task for anyone. Much less a Pharisee who decided to change sides. In a sense, that would have been a mark against Paul when he talked to any dedicated Jew.

How difficult would it be to change any religious belief that has been around for generations? Take a look at the world today. Many beliefs and customs have been around for 1-2 generations. For the most part, people have their heels dug into the ground and will defend their traditions to thier last dying breath. Paul was facing traditions that went back to Abraham, although many of them did not begin until Moses introduced them. That didn’t matter, the fact is, they were very old traditions, and no matter what the sacrificial system was in Paul’s day, people insisted it began with either Moses, or Abraham.

When we look at what Paul had to face, on one hand we see a religion steeped in traditions. On the other hand, we see Paul reaching out to groups with little to no knowledge about God, and less about Jesus. What do you think Pagans heard about God? Look at the legalistic view of God the Jews placed within their own religion. Now look at how some churches blow details about other churches out of proportion. Can you imagine the rumors flying around about God in Paul’s time? Talk about fighting a battle on two fronts, and needing a double edged sword.

Romans Introduction

If you are looking for quick answers to the many questions people raise about Romans, and other books Paul recorded, you’re not going to find those simple, one line answers here. You will find out how Paul constructed this letter, and how he was inspired to write this letter. One of the most important lessons you will learn in this book is how Paul used contrasts throughout this book, and his other books. The reason that this important is, many people use the contrasts Paul used, and create new doctrines out of them. In other words, people have a tendency to take Paul’s examples out of context. Few people will explain what context is, and in many cases, teachers and preachers to not want people to know what context really is. This book is designed to explain what context is, and how Paul used it to write those unique letters.

Paul also tells us where that Good News is supposed to be delivered. Is that advice followed today? To a large degree, the Good News has been replaced by tradition. Paul had to go through a unique experience to open his eyes. One day on the road to Damascus. Jesus appeared to Paul. Jesus chose to appear in such a brilliant form, the sight blinded Paul. Seeing Jesus for the first time blinded Paul. Why? To show Paul how blind he was because those traditions did nothing but blinded people to the truth. It took Paul a number of days in darkness before he could see the light. During that time, Paul learned to listen to the Spirit, who explained what those symbols and prophecies pointed to. Paul had to forget all those traditions. Everything that was removed from Paul was replaced with the truth he was really searching for.

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Paul didn’t hold anything back when he wrote about people who live to limit God, His Word, and for lack of a better example, what Paul recorded in his books. Paul showed the Romans why people stand on one point in the scriptures and use it to make a name for themselves. They are arrogant, and they want to hide their flaws. Paul showed one way we can identify those type of people. They will have one set of rules for themselves, and another set for everyone else. Jesus told the priests, that’s how the lived. Today we see the same thing and another battle Paul had to fight. People pick and choose what laws in the Old Testament to follow, and which have been done away with at the cross. The way Paul put it, it is best to avoid people like that. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing other prophets wrote about. There is much greater evil below the surface. Sad to see, there are all kinds of people who prefer to follow the types of teachers Paul warned about.

Paul faced a group of Jews in Rome he had to remind about the origin of God’s children on this planet. Paul had to encourage those people to go back and review those stories. Not in the way they have been taught those stories, but examine them in the new light they received. Of course that light came in varying degrees to different people. Some people left Jesus. Some people followed Jesus for years. Some people saw and listened to Jesus for only a day. Some people witnessed the miracles Jesus performed. Some people were in fact healed by Jesus. Because few people in Rome actually saw any of those events, the Book of Romans gives us in in-depth look at how one inspired writer teamed up with the Spirit to reach a small number of people in the world capital.

Not everyone saw the same image of God. Some people saw Jesus heal, feed people, and show His compassion. Some people could see the real God in Jesus. Not everyone fell for the explanations taught by the Jewish leaders. That was a start, the beginning of a new and radical religious experience, to meet a side of God few people see or experience. A side of God that was in fact, dangerous to talk about. Imagine the attitude controlling the masses back then. If someone talked about God’s love, compassion, and the humbleness Jesus displayed, they were often met with threats, violence, and imprisoned. That was one of the world’s greatest contrasts, a vision of God. One view was offered, the other view forced upon people. And Rome stood still as one class of Jews discriminated against the other. Opposing views on religion was not new in the early days of Christianity. But we can learn a lot when we see how each side offered their view of God. I wonder if Paul could see into the future at all the different views of God that were soon to pop up all over the world, and how some groups went to drastic measures to force their views on the world.

Paul reminded us about the role the Holy Spirit plays in reaching people. It doesn’t matter if they are fellow Christians, or nonbelievers. Christ always has a part in our ministries. Without Christ and the Spirit He sent, we are nothing. We are spreading our own gospel, our own messages, our personal brand of religion. The point Paul is making is, “ In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.” What about that pride? Isn’t pride doing the best job you can? When we work with Christ, we work at a much higher level than this world can imagine, or is capable of. There is no doubt about Paul’s relationship with Christ. The question is, how do we get to that level?

Paul did one thing I wish we saw more of today. Paul pointed to Christ as his one and only source of information. Paul didn’t take any credit for figuring things out on his own, thinking up offices, doctrines, or appointing people to positions. Paul didn’t play any of those games we see played in churches these days. Paul took marching orders from Jesus. Paul recorded what Jesus told him to record. Paul didn’t add, subtract, or substitute a single word. Then why is that style of study absent in modern Christianity? Don’t people like Paul’s letters, or don’t they agree with certain parts of Paul’s letters? Then there are other parts preachers insist Paul was not clear on, or didn’t go far enough to explain the subject. In a nutshell, some people don’t study the Bible beyond looking for what pleases them. Those people become distractions and hinder the work. Isaiah hit the nail on the head when he said God’s people will not go out in haste. Paul wanted to be an example of that. Isaiah told us, the Lord will go out in front of us. God knows where He is sending us, what we will experience in that situation, and what we need to do in that situation. It is that simple.