Tag Archives: Romans

Philip Conley's Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts (Romans 8:35 – “The Power of the Source”)

“The Power of the Source”

Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

This morning, there are times when God’s people need “pick me ups” through the storms of life. Because of the weakness and fickleness of our natures, we sometimes lose sight of things that we once held in firm view. Consider the disciples that followed Christ. Could any of them say they had not seen enough? Yet, so many times they were cast down in despair and seemingly without hope. So it is – sadly – with us in our lives. God has blessed us with so much, and we have seen so many wonderful things from His hand. Yet, we still fall into despair and overmuch sorrow. There are passages in Scripture that specifically address the reality of these situations. Though bad things and hard times are a reality of life, they do not change what is truly important and what is an eternal reality.

Certain portions of Scripture seem to hold special places in people’s hearts, and the 8th Chapter of Romans is one such place for many of the household of faith. It is completely understandable. The chapter begins with no condemnation and ends with no separation. Everything in between is rich and precious as well chock full of comforting truths of God’s love and salvation. However, no matter how long I study Scripture, I am always amazed at discovering things in well-worn places. Every time someone thinks they have rubbed a passage smooth, there is always more there than we will ever find. Let us consider a fresh perspective from a well-worn passage of Scripture.

As Paul brings his message home through the latter portion of Romans 8, we see him engage a question and answer session that ultimately brings the conclusion that nothing can or will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. During these questions and answers, Paul is building and building so that when the conclusion is reached, it is beyond contestation. In our study verse, Paul opens the thought of separation. He has just finished describing how we cannot be charged or condemned with anything because of the legal work of Christ. Since we are legally justified, is separation possible? Paul will ultimately conclude that it is not possible for us to be separated, but notice something interesting in his question.

Paul lists 7 things to consider. I know these are things because Paul in verse 37 calls them that. These things are unpleasant and sometimes dire. Yet, Paul’s question is not really phrased for “things.” Paul did not ask, “What shall separate us…” Rather, he asked, “Who shall separate us…” Paul phrases the question in reference to persons but uses examples of things. Why? Paul is inviting us to consider not the thing itself but the power behind the thing. These things are what we might consider the “worst” that men and devils could do to us. Whether it is self-inflicted distress, manmade persecution, or devilish peril and sword, Paul assembles a list of dire situations. However, rather than focus solely on the things, what power do men and devils really have?

Christ makes the point in Matthew 10:28 that fear should not be granted to those that can kill the body only. Real fear should be reserved to someone that holds eternal consequence in their hand. God alone has the power to alter the course of eternal destinations, and He did that through the work of His Son to HIs people. We are held in the Eternal One’s hand based on His work and His alone. What can the devil do? I would posit that the devil did as much to Job as was devilishly possible. He brought destruction to his family and possessions so that we can say the devil attempted persecution, sword, and peril. Job’s wife and three miserable comforters brought distress upon him, and Job himself bemoaned his condition through nakedness in ashes and scraping his skin to relieve the pain of the boils.

None of these trials changed the reality that Job is God’s and will always be God’s. No matter how Job stood up or did not stand up to the trials he faced, Job lives in heaven right now with God Almighty. No matter the trials we face or how we stand up to them, we shall live in heaven some sweet day with God Almighty. The worst the devil can do is wreak havoc in our lives. The worst we can do to ourselves is make ruin of things here. Nothing that happens here changes the eternal reality of being part of God’s family. So, when Paul invites us to consider the source of these things, he is really charging us to consider the power behind the movement.

Would any of us foolishly posit that the devil has equal or more power than God? Would any of us posit the same for ourselves or our fellowman? God forbid! Yet, when we give the circumstances of life too much place, we unwittingly charge the power sources of these things with more power than God. God is the source of our deliverance, and men and devils are the source of our miserable situations. Who is stronger? No contest. So “what” in life could separate us? Nothing, because there is not a “who” that can. When I hear people say that we can keep ourselves out of heaven because of unbelief and/or _______, I am always amazed at the logical conclusion of that reasoning. People ultimately are saying that people have more power than God, because God wants them there, but they keep themselves from it. Friends, thank God that our unbelief does not change reality. Thank God that the devil’s work cannot undo God’s redemptive love. Thank God that eternal things are secure in Him, so that one day we will see Him as He is and be satisfied.

In Hope,
Bro Philip

Philip Conley's Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts (Romans 16:25-27 – “Knowledge of Secret Things”)

“Knowledge of Secret Things”

Romans 16:25-27, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.”

This morning, a casual interaction with humanity reveals a great deal of complaining. Anything and everything from the weather, to current events, to personal grief is lamented sometimes with such fervor that just listening to it all can make you start feeling down yourself. Though not that old, I have learned by experience that complaining and thanksgiving cannot live under the same roof concurrently. A thankful heart is not complaining and vice versa. So, in the spirit of thanksgiving let us look at some unchanging things that God has mercifully given us and blessed us to know about while we sojourn here.

Paul closes his epistle to the church at Rome with a heartfelt yearning that mirrors every sincere pastor’s desire for the churches that they serve. Paul had basically expounded to them the things that he desired that they have, and in closing, he shows the desire and also the awesome place that these Romans had. Their place can be ours today, and their minister’s love and devotion should be our pastor’s today. So, what was Paul’s desire, and what placement did the Romans have? Very quickly, Paul desired that they be stablished in the tenets of his gospel. In other words, Paul wanted them grounded, secure, and unwavering in the great and central themes of New Testament Christianity. Just as Paul closed his discourse of the resurrection in I Corinthians, the point of the gospel is not to attend church, feel good, and come back a few days later. The point of the gospel and its tenets is to make us resolute in our convictions and devotions to God. The gospel serves as a great benefactor in that regard to aid and strengthen us to being better disciples of the cross.

But, what is this gospel coming from? What are the tenets? What made the placement of the Romans so special? Notice the progression backwards that Paul makes. The conclusion is that the Romans be stablished in his gospel. That gospel flows from the subject matter of Jesus Christ. His Person is a revelation of a mystery that had been hidden for generations since the world began. Though the Scriptures of the Old Testament declared Him through prophecy, He has been seen in these times incarnate. This revealed mystery was commanded by God, and is now revealed to all nations so that we would be obedient in the faith and walk by faith. To God belongs the glory for all these things, amen and hallelujah!

Seeing the progression let us consider the basic tenets of the gospel that we dearly love and why thanksgiving should flow without ceasing from us to keep complaints at bay. The Romans were given layer upon layer of the working of God through His covenant and the accomplishment of Jesus Christ to that end. Romans 8 is layered in rich tones with the glory that God has bestowed upon us through His own work. The Romans understood through the teachings of Paul that God foreknew us, predestinated us, called us, justified us, and glorified us. (Romans 8:29-30) They were further grounded in the knowledge that nothing ever has or ever can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39-39)

If these were our only tenets, consider how blessed we would be. What percentage of humanity today understands those teachings as Paul laid them out? What percentage of humanity in Paul’s day knew these things? Furthermore, considering Paul’s progression, what percentage of people in the Old Testament understood them? Though Israel was familiar with God through the law and the prophets, even Israel of old did not understand these things. Consider the wise words of an inspired writer in Proverbs 30:4. He did not know the answer to his questions, and he poses them to his audience knowing that they do not know them either. Today, we know the answer to those questions: 1. Who has ascended up into heaven? Jesus. 2. Who has descended? The same Jesus. 3. Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Again, Jesus. 4. Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Still Jesus. 5. Who hath established all the ends of the earth? Are we seeing how blessed we are and the Romans were in their placement? Ah, but now the pinnacle of it all: 6. What is his name, and what is his son’s name if thou canst tell? By knowing the name of God’s Son (Jesus), we are already a “leg up” on the saints of the Old Testament even those inspired by the Holy Ghost. WOW!

Paul’s preaching and the gospel declare overture after overture about the Person of Jesus Christ. Just hearing His name declared can dispel our fears and give hope for the future. Hearing about Him literally binding the wind in His fists with a simple, “Peace, be still” gives us assurance that He can equally still our storms and troubles today. Hearing of His descension into this world to ascension back to glory comforts the soul to think that He came here for us, went back for us, and will one day bring us to where He is! What is this but a revelation of the mystery that generation after generation of old did not know. What is this today but a revelation that remains a mystery to so many people at this present hour.

The Roman church was not located within Jewry (though many historians believe that it was a mixed church of Jews and Gentiles), but they enjoyed the revelation because God commanded it to be unto all nations and not to one only. That mark should particularly touch us today, because those of us who are Gentiles would have been completely shut out of the knowledge of the things of God in Old Testament days. God revealed the majesty of His glory in that time to Israel only. They were the only nation that could say they had a manifestation of His presence through cloudy and fiery pillars. They were the only nation that had His law delivered to them. They were the only nation that had His authorized priests. They were given prophets, inspired Scripture, and even land that God swore to them.

In the current dispensation, God’s command is unto all nations for the obedience of faith. Therefore, we enjoy the gospel, His Scriptures, and His ministers according to the revelation of this mystery, because it pleased God for more than one nation to have this. Thank God! Because of this, we have heard and rejoiced in the same blessed truths that Paul gave the Romans. We rejoice to know that God loved us before time, sent His Son in time, and will one day have us dwell in glory with Him beyond time. Friends, just consider 10 basic things that we believe, love, and rejoice in when hearing them preached: election, predestination, eternal security, particular redemption, completed redemption, resurrection of the body, immortality of the soul, infallibility of Scripture, power and providence of God, and the comfort and beauty of God’s church. All of these things are rooted and grounded in the mercy and grace of God through Jesus Christ our Saviour. These things are at the heart of the gospel, with Christ as the ultimate glory and centerpiece.

Outside of the church of our Lord, how many people could we round up that would agree with us to the truth of these 10 things? Though I do not rejoice in the fact that true worshippers are few in number (we should ever pray and desire that more would see and know just as Paul did in Romans 9 and Romans 10), we do have to admit that the number is small. Throughout history the number of true worshippers compared to humanity is small, with even our Lord Himself calling us a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). The next time we feel like complaining about “our lot” or sinking down listening to the siren songs of life, let us remember what our real “lot” is. We are part of a blessed family that was ruined of itself but now elevated by our Elder Brother. Because of His love and work, we shall experience Paradise and satisfaction beyond compare. Because of His mercy unto us, we have been blessed to know about it here and praise Him for it all our days. Do I truly have right to complain? God has been and continues to be so good to us that I should have only room to thank Him for all of HIs benefits towards me. Friends, we are blessed; let us live lives of obedience so that glory would redound to God only wise through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

In Hope,
Bro Philip