Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joy Inexpressible

     I commend the following article to you. It was written by Jeff Burnett, my very
dear friend and  beloved  brother  in  the  Lord  Jesus. Jeff  is  a very gifted young
man who preaches the word in the state of Louisiana. He is humble, yet bold, and
is a fine student of God's word! May Yahweh bless him with many useful years in
the service of the King of Eternity.
                                                                                                                   R. Daly    
Joy Inexpressible

1 Peter 1:1-9

     The  Holy  Spirit  through  the  apostle  Peter, in  his first letter, speaks of a
happiness  that  words  cannot  express. It  is  a  joy  so  beyond finite human
comprehension, that mere human words fail to communicate the emotions felt.
Peter is writing his first epistle to a group who find themselves in tough times.
The epistle was sent to individuals  he described as, “sojouners” ASV-1901,
“aliens” NASB-1977 and “strangers in the world” NIV-2011. The text says the
group described was “dispersed” or “scattered” throughout the region of Pontus,
Galatia, Cappodocia, Asia, and Bithynia vs.1. This region is known as Asia Minor,
which would be the country of Turkey today.

     Who exactly is Peter writing this letter to? In verse 1, Peter addresses them as
“elect”. The English word “elect”, comes from the Greek word eklektos, which
carries the meaning of “chosen” or “picked out”. Elect in this context refers to
Christians, who had their lives redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ (1:18-22). 
These followers of Christ lived among people, who did not share in the same
lifestyle, or a commonwealth in heaven. Again, they were “aliens and strangers”
in the world around them (1:1; 2:11). To Christians, this world in which we live
is not home. 1 Peter was written to Christians in a distant land, who were suffering.
Study the following passages of encouragement: to their faith (1:6-7); to their
conduct (2:12); suffering for wrongdoing (2:19-20); to follow the example left by
Jesus (2:21-24); to suffer for righteousness (3:16-18); to be Christ-like in the midst
of suffering (4:1); to remain in the “will of God” though judged by men (4:6);
rejoice to be able to share in the sufferings of Christ (4:12-16); to be glad that the
“God of all grace” will restore them and make them “perfect” (5:10). You have
noticed that all of  these  passages  show  with  certainty  the  suffering that was
experienced by these Christians.

     In the midst of this suffering, certain words are used to describe the outlook of
these Christians towards Christ: Belief, Love and Rejoice. In verse 8, we find the
in the original Greek, hon ouk idontes, which literally means, “had not so much as
a glimpse of” (Guy N. Woods, Commentary on 1 Peter, page 30).How could they,
never seeing the physical form and existence of Jesus, love Him? The word “love”
in our English Bibles is from the Greek word agapao. This is not referring to the
affection we share as humans, but rather in relation of mankind to God. The love
described is an active, functioning working emotion. “For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). “Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “But God demonstrates His
own  love  towards  us,  in  that  while  we  were  yet  sinners, Christ died for us”
(Romans 5:8). “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in
love,   just   as  Christ  also    loved  you  and  gave   Himself   up   for   us…”

(Ephesians 5:1-2).   “For   this   is   the   love   of  God,   that   we   keep   His

commandments…” (1 John 5:3). This short list of verses expresses the type of

love to which Peter is referring. Although the folks to whom Peter wrote had

never seen Jesus, they by faith were certain of His example, that was worthy of

following.  Never seeing Christ with their eyes, but loving Him through faith,

caused these brothers and sisters to “greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and

full of glory”. Agalliaois the Greek word from which we get our English word

rejoice. Thayer defines in the following way, “to exult exceedingly” (Thayer's

Greek Lexicon, page 3).  Knowing  what  Jesus  had   done for them, they were

constrained to follow Him. They had never seen Jesus, but their hearts were full

of deep emotion, gladness, joy and praise that words cannot describe. These

homeless ones of this earth, would suffer for a little   while, but  would  eventually  

receive  the  “salvation  of  their  souls”. A reservation at home in heaven was

awaiting them and that was the cause and reason for their inexpressible joy!

     Similarly, we as Christians are “aliens and strangers” on this place called
planet earth. We share a lot in common with the Christians to whom this epistle
was addressed. When we are being criticized, mistreated and suffer for the cause
of Christ, where do we turn to? Where is our hope and trust? Is it in the same God
and His Son in whom the Christians in 1st Peter had their confidence? May we
always look to Christ and the example He left us to follow. When we contemplate
the suffering recorded for us in this letter, it should not be discouraging, but an
emotion of joy and gladness knowing that the one who suffers for Christ “will
obtain as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls”. In this we greatly


Jeffrey Burnett 4/13/2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Does Romans Teach Justification by Faith Alone?


Most  denominational  theologians, exegetes, and  translators  believe  the  New
Testament teaches a person is justified by faith alone. Their main point of focus
is  Paul's  letter  to  the  Romans. So, it  is  reasonable to ask, "Does Romans Teach
Justification by Faith Alone?"

     What is justification? The New Testament uses several words in this family of
words that are from the same "root" or "stem." The adjective dikaios which means
"righteous, upright, just." The verb dikaioo which means to "make right, just, to
vindicate." The noun dikaiosis  which  means "justification, acquittal, vindication."
The adverb dikaios which means "uprightly, fairly, justly." The noun dikaiosune
which  means  "righteousness, uprightness, justice."  Justification  is  the  state  or
condition of being right with God, or declared "no longer guilty" by God. This is
the pronouncement of God through the Messiah, "who was delivered up for our
trespasses, and was raised up for our justification." (Romans 4:25, ASV-1901)
Therefore, the question is: "Does  the  book  of  Romans  teach  that God declares
a  person to be righteous or "no longer guilty" by faith alone?"

     The  short  answer  is "no."  Neither the  phrase  "faith alone,"  nor  the  concept
of  justification by faith alone are found in Paul's letter to the Romans. Paul plainly
implies  in  Romans  that  nothing alone  justifies  a  person.  Paul says a person is
"justified freely by his grace," (Romans 3:24), "justified by faith," (Romans 3:28),
and believers are "justified by his blood." (Romans 5:9) Since a person is justified
by "grace" and "blood," and inasmuch as "grace" and "blood" are not the same as
"faith," a person is not justified by faith alone! If a person were justified by faith
alone it could not be  by  the grace of God  and  the  blood  of  Christ! "Alone"
excludes all else.

     What are we to make of Paul's statement that, "Now to the one who works, the
reward is not accounted according to grace, but according to debt. But to the one
who does not work, but believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, their faith is
accounted for righteousness."? (Romans 4:4-5)

     First,  human  works  are   not  the  basis or grounds  of   justification. More
particularly, in Romans the "works of the law" (or "works of law", implying the
law of Moses  or  works  by  which  one  puts  God  in  his "debt.") is a point of
focus. (cf. Romans 4:19, 21, 28) There is no justification through such works.

     Second, Paul is not excluding the works or deeds required by God as a means
of being justified by God. At least twice in Romans Paul says that his apostleship
was "for (or in order to bring about, RD) obedience of faith." (Romans 1:5; 16:26)
The "obedience  of   faith"  means   the  obedience  that   faith  elicits; faith  that
requires compliance with God's will.

     Third, Paul did not believe a person can be justified apart from Christ Jesus or
apart from his death. He reminds the Romans that, "Or  are  you  ignorant  that  as
many as  were  immersed  into  Christ  Jesus  were  immersed  into  his  death?
Therefore, we  were  buried  with him through immersion into death, that just as
Christ was raised from the dead  through  the  glory  of  the  Father, so  we also
may walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4) Nothing in Romans excludes the
necessity of immersion. Paul says those who are immersed are immersed "into
Christ Jesus," and "into his death." Immersion was the means by which they
received the benefits of Jesus' death. To deny the necessity of immersion is to
deny the necessity of Christ Jesus' work and the benefits of his blood. And that
is what those who teach justification by faith alone do.
                                                                                                               R. Daly