Sunday Morning Questions: 10/21/2012

By pastorbillwalden

On Sunday mornings, I do my best to answer questions from our congregation.  Today, I didn’t realize that the questions were sent to my email account, and that I was supposed to retrieve them on my phone.  I realized my mistake after our service was over.  Here are some of the questions and answers.

Our text this morning was Romans 7:1-6, and the question came forth based on that passage.

So if we are dead to the law, what law(s) do we live by as Christians?

The Christian’s relationship to the law changes in that we don’t try to approach God by our performance in keeping the Law.  The Law is holy, just, and good,  (Romans 7:12) but it doesn’t empower us to obey it, and then condemns us when we fail.  We approach God through Jesus, who died for our sins, took our punishment, and His righteousness is imputed to us.

Our relationship to the Law now exists in this way:  The Spirit of God inspires us to keep God’s Law.  The Law is God’s Law, his commandments to us are still holy, just and good.  The work of the Spirit inspires us and empowers us to both desire to obey God’s Law, and to keep God’s Law.  The Law is still good, and so by God’s Spirit, we seek to obey it in a fresh way….by God’s power and as he causes us to want to obey.

Paul explains this new relationship to the Law in Philippians 2:12b, 13, which says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”.

It is God that causes the Christian to both will (want) to obey the law, and empowers him to obey the Law.  The Christian doesn’t set aside the Law of God when they live in grace, but grace forgives us when we fail in the Law, and grace causes us to want to obey, and helps us obey.

Since Jesus received his new body after his death yet was still recognizable, do u think we will still look somewhat like ourselves after we die….i.e. body size , height, skin color, etc?

The Bible tells us that the disciples of Jesus (including Mary) didn’t readily recognize Jesus when they saw Him.  There may be different reasons for this.  They weren’t expecting to see Him, for they had seen Him killed.  He was in a glorified body rather than a mortal body, so that was a big difference.  The Book of Revelation states that John saw Jesus “as a lamb that had been slain”, (Revelation 5:6) which some take to mean that even in His glorified body, Jesus still bore the scars of His suffering.  One interesting fact…Mary didn’t recognize Jesus when she first saw Him on that resurrection morning, but she recognized His voice.  To answer this question…there seems to be some similarity between the mortal body and the glorified one, and yet there is great difference.  So….I’m not really sure.  :-/

What r some ways i can serve in a new way?

Romans 7:1-6 speaks of us “bearing fruit” to Jesus.  Think of the difference between a factory and a garden.  A factory produces things by machine.  The process is mechanical, predictable, mundane, lifeless.  A garden produces things naturally, organically, almost mysteriously.  The factory gets things done, but is lifeless.  The garden is full of life, always growing and changing.

To quote Chuck Smith,…

“God doesn’t want to walk through the factory and inspect products…He wants to walk through the garden and enjoy the fruit”.

The unsaved person seeks to serve God through their own efforts, and through their own inspiration or the inspiration (or threats) of others.  As stated above, God causes the Christian to “both will and to do”.

When asking how we can serve God in a new way, the most important thing to realize is that our service to God is something that God births in us.  He causes us to desire to serve Him.  He gives us gifts with which to serve Him.  He gives us faith to step out and serve Him.  If we recognize that we serve God with new hearts, then we can wait for Him to show us how and where to serve Him. Where we serve God and what we do for Him, is secondary to the fact that we serve Him with new hearts.  The rest will just flow.

As Christians, mature or just beginning, our walk w/ the LORD, we’ve all been made dead to the law, we’ve all been made alive in Christ & we’ve all experienced this awesome grace @some point. How cool that we’ve also been equipped w/ Gods word & thus knowledge of sanctification as process. Why, then, do we create harsh standards/judgments surrounding what a Christian should look like ? Why do Christians, having the same knowledge, feel afraid of others knowing that we struggle…hiding our true selves & even looking down on those struggling? Disapproval/Criticism = Discouragement 4 new believers.

Yeah…that’s crazy, isn’t it?  The Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:18…”18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…”.

The Christian is a hybrid creature.  We have been born again, and have the nature of Jesus and the Spirit of God living within us.  We have new desires, new strength, and a new view on life.  The trouble is this: the old nature still lingers, and tries to regain control.  Before I was a Christian, I was only sinful.  Now that I am a Christian, I have a desire for holiness, but the old nature still affects me at times.

We Christians forget about how much God has forgiven us.  We forget that we were on our way to Hell, but God offered us a pardon, and we took it.  We forget about our former terrible spiritual condition.

We come to Christ, we receive forgiveness, we begin to change, and then we can begin to feel spiritual pride because of our improved life.  We don’t do some of the obviously bad things we used to do.  Our lives do improve, but we forget that God has made the change.  We surrendered to God, but He made the change.

We can then become spiritually proud, and look down at others that are still struggling with issues that we have been able to overcome.

The bottom line is this: Even though we are saved, forgiven, and changed, we forget that apart from Jesus, nothing good dwells in us.  Nothing.  Not one good thing, as far as Heaven is concerned.

Apart from God’s grace and influence in my life, I (Bill Walden) am a sinful man, capable of great evil.  I do not say that hypothetically…I really mean it.  Paul said it about himself.  I say it about myself.  You need to say it about yourself.

The Christian who looks down on others doesn’t realize how spiritually bankrupt they are without Jesus.  They have forgotten of how much they have been forgiven.  They have shifted from walking in grace to walking in works.  They have become spiritually proud.

We either think too highly of ourselves, and look down on others, or…we try to hide the truth about ourselves, and present a facade of godliness by pointing to the fact that we do good works, or are better than other people.

Jesus taught about how backwards this kind of thinking is.

Luke 18:9-14  

9Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Christian who looks down on others has become spiritually proud.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  (James 4:6)

To the Christian who is looked down upon, I say this: pray for the Christian who is proud and looks down upon you.  Both you and they are the Bride of Christ.  They need your prayers and forgiveness…and remember….your identity is who God says you are according to His word, not who others say you are.

(Editor’s note- I am so blessed by the thoughtful questions submitted to me by our church.)



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