This past Sunday, we paused our study in Romans, but continued the theme we considered at the end of Romans 5—the thimble of our sin compared to the ocean of God’s grace.
We see this illustrated in the short letter to Philemon, which the Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon regarding his runaway slave Onesimus. Though seen as small, insignificant, and worthless in the eyes of society, God would esteem and elevate Onesimus to the highest position that anyone in creation could ever hold—co-heir with Christ!
God wants to do the same for you. He thinks about you more than the number of grains of sand on earth, more than the stars in our universe, and more than all aspects of all creation combined! His thought towards you are good.
This is what the letter to Philemon is about. You are NOT worthless. You are loved by God, who invites YOU to be transformed from His creation to one of His children. Watch our study from Sunday and marvel at the marvelous grace of Jesus.
In Romans 5, Paul writes about two different men—Adam and Jesus. Each of these men did something that had lasting effects on everyone who came after them. Adam’s act of disobedience caused a reign of death and sin—a reign that all of mankind has lived through. But Jesus’ act of obedience caused a reign of grace through righteousness to eternal life through Him!
Paul wanted us to know that although we were born into the reign of sin and death, we can be born into Jesus’ reign of grace. His one act of obedience resulted in a gift of righteousness which will allow anyone who has been born again into His family to reign in life and grace!
Watch the replay of our study in Romans 5:12-21 as we considered this portion of scripture and see once again how God’s grace is greater than our sin.
Do you remember your identity before you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ? You were anxious, alone, lost, and rejected.
But then, something happened once you met Jesus and yielded to Him. You were no longer afraid, but had a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. You were no longer alone, but a friend of God. You once were lost, but now are found. In Christ, you have been accepted and restored.
In the passage we considered this past Sunday, the Apostle Paul points out these disparities—the difference between a life without the hope of the gospel, and a life that’s forever changed by Jesus.
On one side, there are words like without strength, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. And on the other side are words like love, justified, saved, reconciled, and life.
Paul wants everyone to know that Jesus is willing and wanting to take anyone from a place of weakness to a place of life, love, and strong consolation. Watch our study from Romans 5:6-11 and learn about the reconciliation that Jesus offers to all of us.
So far in the Book of Romans, Paul has provided the ordered and logical argument that the only way of salvation is to be justified by grace through faith.
In the fifth chapter, we learn about the practical benefits of this justification, beginning with this incredible truth: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 5:1)
Through Jesus and Jesus alone, we have peace with God. But it gets better! We also have access to God: “…through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand…” (Romans 5:2)
Through faith in Christ, we have peace with God AND access God’s throne of grace—where we will receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need!
This grace truly is amazing! Watch our study from Romans 5:1-5 as we opened up the word of God to read, hear, trust, and obey.
On Good Friday, we consider Jesus. We consider Him, who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself so that we won’t grow weary and give up. For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross so that we could enjoy unhindered fellowship with Him forever!
For the last several weeks, we have been studying “the things that make for our peace” in our study of the book of Romans.
This past Sunday, we met some people who refused to recognize “the things that make for their peace,” which would eventually lead to destruction that didn’t have to happen.
This caused the heart of Jesus to be broken as He wept over the city of Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday.
Watch our study from this past Sunday as we considered Jesus’ emotional entry into Jerusalem in Luke 19:28-44.
As we continue our study in the book of Romans, we are learning that God’s righteousness, redemption, and salvation is received by trusting, not by trying. In fact, all of God’s gifts are received by simply and merely trusting and believing, not by trying harder.
The futility of trying harder versus trusting God was something the Apostle Paul understood. Before Paul met Jesus, he endeavored to earn right standing with God through his own good works, religious rites, and religious rules. But once he encountered Christ, Paul realized that salvation comes by simply and merely believing God and receiving from God by faith.
This is the theme Paul has been emphasizing so far in the book of Romans. Watch our study from Romans 4:9-25 as we continued our study of God’s amazing grace.
John Phillips said, “Under a system of works, everything depends on the sinner. Under grace everything depends on the Savior. Under the first, God gives a fair trial. But under the second God gives a free pardon.” Either everything depends on you & your works, or everything depends on God & His grace.
We explored God's amazing grace as we continued our study of the Apostle Paul's layered, ordered, and logical argument for God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense—given freely to anyone and everyone who simply and merely believes.
As the Apostle Paul continues his ordered and logical argument for God’s grace in his letter to the Romans, he looks back in history for an example of righteousness to which he can point. In his search, he looks beyond the prophets, beyond the kings of Israel and Judah, and beyond Moses. He finds the example he’s looking for in Abraham—the father of the faith.
It's faith, Paul tells us, that is the means through which we are justified. It's not by our works we are saved, or anything we can earn, but a gift of God that is received by faith (Ephesians 2:8). We see this faith that justifies throughout the life of Abraham. Just like the covenant that God made with Abraham, we have no contribution in the covenant He made with us through His son—we only have the opportunity to believe.
Watch our study from Romans 4:1-3 as we considered the faith of Abraham and the righteousness God credited to him—and credits to us—through belief.
How does someone get to heaven? This is was the book of Romans is all about. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as the Gospel according to Grace—God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense.
This grace is given as a gift freely to anyone and everyone who believes. It’s a gift—we can’t take credit for it. We can’t earn it by being good enough because no one is good enough. We have all sinned. Our religious efforts to earn God’s favor will never be enough to make us right with Him.
With this truth in mind, we turned our attention to an interesting question Jesus asked a man who was ill for 38 years. What was this question and how would you answer it? Watch our study in Romans 2:12-29 to find out!
In our study of Romans 1 last week, we considered the overtly immoral—those who have turned away & are walking away from God. Within that study, we reflected on parallels in the parable of the prodigal—the son who turned away from his Father, and the Father who had to let go of His son and then welcomed him back with open arms.
This week, we turned our attention to the intentionally moral and the really religious—those who think they they are righteous—and therefore, do not see their need for repentance. We reflected again on the parable of the prodigal and considered the Father’s other son. This son’s self-righteous judgmental attitude needed to be addressed by his Father.
These two groups mistakenly compare themselves to others to determine their self-righteousness rather than comparing themselves with Christ and seeing their need for His righteousness.
Watch our study from Sunday as we learned how important it is to keep our eyes on Jesus, lest we’re tempted to look down on others.
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes an ordered and logical argument for God’s grace.
But in order to believe and receive this good news, we need to understand and acknowledge the bad news: we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard of righteousness. Anyone who would believe the good news of Jesus and receive the free gift of his righteousness must admit this first.
This is the bad news that leads us to the best news—we can be justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24)!
As Paul continues his ordered and logical argument, he demonstrates this reality in three different categories of people. This past Sunday, we worked our way through the first category: the overtly immoral—those who have rejected God and are running the other way on purpose.
Watch our study from Romans 1:18-32 as we hear God’s heart through Paul’s pen for our need for repentance.
In a society of ever-changing opinions, there is a constant and felt pressure to conform to the prevailing view at hand, to compromise on truth when speaking up for it is costly, or to shy away from clearly communicating the whole counsel of God’s Word. We might be tempted to alter or edit God’s Word to make it more acceptable to those who do not yet recognize the authority of the One who authored all of Scripture. This temptation is motivated by fear—fear of giving offense, fear of losing relationships, fear of what others might think of us if we truly center our lives around God and His Word, fear of appearing ridiculous, out-of-touch, or unloving.
But fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and nothing could be more loving than to follow Paul’s example in faithfully representing God’s heart as revealed in His Word to those around us. When we realize that only God’s unedited and unaltered Word has the power to save souls, we will care more about what God thinks of us and about the condition of someone’s soul than we care about our own reputation.
Why do we feel like we need to moderate or diminish the Word of the Lord? How can we be ashamed of the Gospel that has transformed our lives? Brothers and sisters, let us not be deceived! There is nothing dishonorable, improper, or ridiculous about the Gospel. Instead, we can find compassion, courage, and holy confidence to deliver God’s word unedited and unaltered.
Watch our study of Romans 1:16-17 as we discovered the same confidence Paul had in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the opening of his letter to the Romans, Paul expresses his desire to go to Rome. He is eager to build up Roman believers and tell everyone in that city that they are not only loved by God, but that they are the beloved of God, and this same God is calling them out of the darkness into the light to be set apart for a good good work.
That’s and intense desire, especially when you consider who was in Rome at this time. People like Caesar Nero, a madman who found a twisted enjoyment in persecuting Christians. Paul understood that Nero needed the Gospel—just like him. Remember that Paul (who used to be Saul) was so much worse, yet God loved him and called him and used him to preach the gospel.
Paul would arrive in Rome. He would come in chains, but did not see himself as a prisoner of Rome. Paul always referred to himself as a prisoner of Jesus Christ, knowing that he had put his life in the hands of Jesus.
Watch our study from Romans 1:8-15 as we continued to work our way though the opening of this amazing letter.
There was once a man named Mephibosheth. He became crippled because of a fall and lived a life of isolation because he misunderstood the character of the king. One day, this king sent for him—not to kill him, but to show him kindness because of a covenant. On the surface, this is a beautiful story, but when we consider the context, there is even more in the life of this man named Mephibosheth.
Join us Sundays at 10am (central) as we worship the Lord. We gather in-person at 912 W. St. Germain Street, St. Cloud, MN; online at https://live.refuge.mn; and on the radio at http://refuge.fm or 96.1 FM (in the St. Cloud area).
This past Sunday, we began our study in the letter of Paul to the Romans. The letter begins with the author, Paul, who used to be Saul—a former Pharisee set out to completely eradicate Christianity. That is, until Christ met him, and called him to build up the church rather than tear it down.
Paul describes himself as a bondservant of Christ—a servant of Jesus under his own choice rather than compulsion—and called to be an apostle, set apart for a specific purpose.
It’s Paul’s calling we considered in our study—along with our own calling. For we too have been called. Now, what do you think that we have been called to be wholly set apart for?
Watch our study of Romans 1:1-7 as we discovered the nature and purpose of our calling from God.
On the first Sunday of every year, we review the history, vision, purpose, and practice of Refuge so that we can confidently answer these questions: What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What does it look like? We turn to the Bible to find the answers to those important questions so we can understand God’s vision for His church.
Join us Sunday at 10am (central) as we worship the Lord. We gather in-person at 912 W. St. Germain Street, St. Cloud, MN; online at https://live.refuge.mn; and on the radio at http://refuge.fm or 96.1 FM (in the St. Cloud area).
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends