Friday, July 29, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 31, 2016

Over 108,000 readers worldwide

(Freedom to obey GOD)
(Romans 6)

   When we were joined to CHRIST in “spiritual baptism”, we became so united with HIM that HIS death became our death to sin. Sin no longer has dominion over our lives, and we are free to make the choice of obeying GOD fully. JESUS’ resurrection became our resurrection and we now share in HIS new life. In sharing in that new life, we are now better able to choose to live for GOD, just as CHRIST chose to live for GOD during HIS life here on earth (Romans 6:1-11).
    In the Greek, the word used for “truth” is “aletheia” (al-ay-thi-a), and it means “in harmony with reality”. When we come to CHRIST, we experience a “spiritual reality” or “truth” through faith, that, we otherwise, would have never known. We have chosen to live in harmony with reality, and can now, consider ourselves to be dead to the world of sin, and new citizens to the “kingdom of Heaven”. We must now allow the Laws of GOD to become paramount to us in our new life, and we are ready to accept the reality of GOD’s truth, based on faith in HIS WORD. We are saying to GOD that we no longer want to be slaves to sin, but rather, we choose to be servants to HIM, through HIS grace (Romans 6:12-14). 
    Chapter 6 of Paul’s letter to the Romans is all about “present tense salvation”. It exemplifies the truth that we are being perpetually saved by CHRIST JESUS daily, and in fact, moment by moment. And even though our propensity to sin remains with us, and indeed, we all still feel our “sin nature” tugging at us, however, now, we have the strength of CHRIST, through GOD’s infusion of the HOLY SPIRIT, to help us win those battles between our “reason to do right”, and our natural “passion to want to do wrong”.
    In verse 15, the mention that believers live “under grace” led some early believers to ask the question, “Should we sin more because we are under grace, and not the law?” Paul refuted this silly notion and went on to explain why that idea can never be accepted. Here Paul tells us, in effect, that, there can be no middle ground between, being “a slave to sin”, and, being “a slave to obedience to GOD’s Word”. In other words, no one can serve two masters. We can’t straddle the fence because the fence is entirely on satan’s side of the line that GOD has already drawn in the sand.
    The fence (ideology) was built by satan for those who really don’t want to completely obey GOD, but rather, are really looking to find a god that is made in their own image. However, what they really don’t understand is that, there is really “no gray area” between “right and wrong”, there is only the line that GOD drew in the sand. We either have to make up our minds whether we want to be on GOD’s side totally, or, do we want to be on the side that belongs to satan. We can’t serve both GOD and the devil.  Being a slave to sin leads to death (eternal separation from GOD), and being a slave to GOD means having an “eternal life of freedom in CHRIST JESUS”. To choose “obedience to GOD” is to choose a new MASTER, and, to abandon the chains of slavery and bondage with the old master, satan (Vs. 16-18).
    The Apostle Paul used the illustration of “slave and master” because it was easy to understand in the physical sense. However, Paul sought to impart “spiritual” understanding of our spiritual problems, which always lead to our physical suffering. GOD is SPIRIT, and so is satan. GOD’s SPIRIT is righteous, and satan’s is evil. We can choose to let ourselves fall victim to the impurities and lawlessness of satan’s evil spirit, or, we can choose the righteousness of CHRIST, and become holy with GOD’ SPIRIT. Remember, the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of GOD is eternal life, through CHRIST JESUS, our LORD (Vs. 19- 23).
    The role of faith becomes easier once we decide in our hearts to seek the righteousness that can only be found in living a more “CHRIST-like” life. Life has always consisted of choices that shape our lives for better or for worse, and in the end our own personal history will judge us. And since every rational person wants the best out of life, we must choose to make the choices in life that align us with the will of GOD. We cannot enjoy goodness apart from GOD. We must determine that we are going to live for the CHRIST WHO died for us, and make doing GOD’s will, our daily goal in life.  
     In order to overcome this world, we have to make the choice of “Life in CHRIST”. It is an option that is readily available to us, for as long as we have breath in our bodies. If we are a professing to be Christians, we must remain constantly in the Word of GOD. Every time we begin to release our grip on the Word of GOD, the old life begins to regain its grip on us. We must spend as much time as possible training in GOD’s Word, and more importantly, we must remember that, from the very moment we close your bible and put it down, we begin the process of being untrained all over again, and so we can’t wait too long before we pick it up again.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, July 22, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 24, 2016

Over 107,000 readers worldwide

(CHRIST gives us the hope of salvation)
(Romans 5)

   The sin of Adam brought physical death. The Resurrection of CHRIST brought spiritual life. Because one man disobeyed GOD, many people became sinners (Romans 5:12). However, because one other MAN obeyed GOD, many people will be made right in GOD’s sight (Romans 5:17).
    In the original Greek, the word Paul uses for “access”, in Romans 5:2, is “prosagoge” (pros-a-gogue-ay), and it means “to introduce, or usher someone else into the presence of royalty”. It can also be defined as “a safe haven, or harbor”. We have “access” to GOD through our faith in JESUS CHRIST, WHO came into the World, and overcame the World, by way of HIS enduring SPIRIT. We can now rejoice in our trials because we know that those trials are not meant to make us fail, but rather, they are tests, that are meant to strengthen us, and make us better warriors in the army of CHRIST. Trials help us learn to endure, and endurance develops strength and character. Our character then strengthens our hope and confidence in the gift of salvation (Romans 5:2-4).
    In John 15:13 JESUS says that, “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (KJV). This gives us confidence in salvation, because, here JESUS is saying in effect, that, from that glorious moment when HE died on the cross at Golgotha, we were no longer just HIS servants, but rather, at that moment, we became HIS friends. By the sin of Adam, all men became sinners and were alienated from GOD. In total contrast, by the righteousness of CHRIST, all men can become righteous, and can be restored into a right relationship with GOD (Romans 5:18).
    Paul says it more clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 where he states, “For since by man came death, by MAN came also, the resurrection of the dead. For in Adam all die, even so in CHRIST shall all be made alive” (KJV). There are two basic Jewish ideas that come into play when reading this passage. One is “solidarity”. The Jews never really thought of themselves as individuals, but rather, they were a part of a chosen clan, a family, or a nation, and whatever happened to one, happened to all. The other thing that comes into play is that, at least in those days, death was considered to be the direct consequence, or result, of sin. The Jews believed that sin was intimately connected with death, and in essence, they are right.
    GOD’s love, however, is not limited to just a select few, and HE proved that when HE extended HIS love to the entire ungodly human race by sending HIS SON JESUS to die on the cross for our iniquities. And since HIS death brought reconciliation to us all, while we were still HIS enemies, we are now reconciled, and should have confidence that HIS sacrifice will complete the work of salvation in us (Romans 5:6-11).
    GOD’s law was given to us so that all people could see how sinful they are. The more people sin, the more abundantly GOD’s wonderful grace and kindness will manifest itself. And just as sin had previously ruled over all people, bringing them to death, so now GOD’s grace and kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with HIMSELF, and resulting in eternal life through CHRIST JESUS, our LORD (Romans 5:20-21).
    Through faith in CHRIST, we can see an ultimate happy ending to the unpleasant circumstances that we now find ourselves in. Faith gives us hope to see beyond our suffering, tribulation, and understanding. Faith enables us to realize how GOD can work a greater good in our lives through difficult times. And we can also rejoice and come to rest in the hope of a glorious future that was prepared for us long ago, by a kind and loving GOD.
   In the coming days, let us each think of someone we know, who may be seeing themselves as being in a hopeless situation because of a recent setback in life. Then, try and come up with some GODLY ways in which you might be able to encourage them in the SPIRIT of hope, which CHRIST JESUS lends to us as Christians. For instance, perhaps we can arm them with a list of scriptures, perhaps from this particular chapter of Romans that may seem most appropriate to their struggle. When a person has hope, they also have peace, and that is true with everyone. Through the power of CHRIST we can be conquerors of all things, even those things that bring us harm and disappointment in this world.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, July 15, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 17, 2016

Over 106,000 readers worldwide

(JESUS is our sacrifice of atonement)
(Romans 3:21-31)

   The Law of GOD is designed to show man his own weaknesses and sinfulness. Once we learn what GOD wants us to do as human beings, and try to satisfy the law, we just as quickly learn how far we are from being able to do it. Either we feel that we can never completely obey GOD, or, that we have no desire to try to obey HIM. Fortunately for us, the way to GOD is not through obedience to the Law, but rather, it is through faith in CHRIST, and then, it is our faith in CHRIST JESUS, that fuels our desire to do those things that are pleasing to GOD.
    In Romans chapter 3, verses 21-31, the Apostle Paul teaches us how JESUS took our punishment for sin unto HIMSELF and personally delivered us from the permanency of the grave, or “death”, or, “permanent separation from GOD”. Through the vicarious sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, GOD shows us a different way to righteousness than had been taught by the earlier leaders of Judaism in Jerusalem in the first century, prior to JESUS’ coming.
    Obeying the Law, in itself, is not the way that Scripture teaches us how we can arrive at the “righteous state” that will qualify us to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, we can’t even acquire righteousness on our own, at all. Christians are granted an “imputed righteousness” through their belief and faith in CHRIST, the only proven RIGHTEOUS ONE. We are made right in GOD’s sight when we trust in JESUS to take away our sins (Vs.21-22).
    We all come to CHRIST as “sinners”, or with “sin experience”, and were already at a deficit, falling far short of GOD’s OWN glorious standards (v.23). Our original nature (GOD’s Nature) that we were born with (made in GOD’s OWN spiritual image) had been damaged, or defiled from the moment we accepted satan’s “sin nature” the first time we disobeyed GOD, after we reached an age of accountability.
    Through CHRIST, a gracious GOD in Heaven is giving us an opportunity at redemption through “no work” of our own. JESUS volunteered to accept GOD’s request that HE come to earth to “take the sting out of death”, which was our punishment for sin. This satisfied GOD’s anger because of our iniquities, and restored us back into a personal relationship of friendship with GOD (Vs.24-25).     
    When, we as human beings sin, we sometimes display “what we think is” amazing “human ingenuity”, as we try to justify that sin. And even through our excuses may sound good, and make perfect sense to us, GOD, is not buying our foolishness. In verse 26 of this third chapter of Romans, we see a good and gracious paradox. Here Paul tells us that GOD is “just” and “fair”, and that, in that incredible, miraculous “grace” that, JESUS came to bring us, GOD accepts the sinner, not as a criminal, but as a son whom HE still loves. Thank YOU GOD!
    Remember, obedience to the laws of GOD is what we can do for ourselves; however, “grace” is concerned with what GOD can do, and, is doing, for us. The Laws of GOD serve to show us, just how far we are from HIS high and glorious standards. It exposes things to us, some of which, we didn’t even know were sins.
    The law shows us, very vividly, our need for grace, and, a SAVIOR. GOD’s grace gives us a chance to escape the bondage of sin, as there is nothing good in our own flesh. The only way for us to be reconciled to GOD is through grace received as a result of our belief in our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST.
    All of our human acts are tainted by our own sin nature, and thereby, less than perfect, and not acceptable to GOD. GOD’s Law serves to show us our imperfections, and when we are measured by HIS glorious standard, we all come up short.
    Everyone has already been judged by GOD’s Law, and the verdict has been announced by GOD, as guilty. Our “righteousness”, or, “justification”, can never come from our own acts, but rather, it can only come from the distinctive acts of an Almighty gracious GOD in Heaven.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, July 8, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 10, 2016

Over 106,000 readers worldwide

(GOD remains faithful to a disobedient people)
(Romans 3:1-19)

   In the Greek, the word used for “justification” is “dikaiosune” (dik-ah-yos-oo-nay), and it is “equity in character or action”, or, “righteousness”. However, in the biblical sense, the word “Justification” takes on a dual meaning. First it means that a person is pronounced “not guilty” before GOD, by GOD, and, that that same person is also pronounced as being “righteous” by GOD. However, that person’s new-found righteousness is an “imputed righteousness” that is made possible by the sacrifice of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR, and is not earned by the person who has that righteousness bestowed upon them.
    Justification is a one-time event that happens at the very moment of one receiving “Salvation” from GOD. Then, the process of Salvation or “Sanctification” begins. Sanctification is a lifelong process, by which the “saved” person is expected to become more like CHRIST, with each passing day, in terms of their behavior, and “representation of GOD”, here on earth is concerned.
    The great advantage that the Jews had, at one time, was that they had possession of GOD’s Word all to themselves, and more often than not, they chose not to obey it. Thanks to GOD’s grace, a lack of faith by them, did not nullify HIS faithfulness to them. GOD’s law was never intended to be used by GOD to save us, but rather, it is used by GOD to make us aware of our sins.
    GOD, through the Scriptures, has revealed a righteousness that has nothing to do with the law. And since all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of GOD, all need to be justified by a “Grace Gift” given only to those who have faith in JESUS CHRIST.
    The Jews often misunderstood the meaning of their special position with GOD. Paul believed it was special because with it came with a certain responsibility. He knew the special position didn’t afford them to do what “they” like, but rather, it afforded them with a responsibility to do what GOD likes.
    In verse 2 of this passage, the word Paul uses for the phrase “oracles of GOD”, in his original Greek writings, is “logia”, and it is “a special statement, or pronouncement from GOD”. Here it means the “Ten Commandments”, and here in verses 2-3, Paul is saying that GOD entrusted the Jews with actively keeping the Ten Commandments with their lifestyle and behavior, and not by focusing on them as being endowed with special privileges, whether they obeyed them or not.
    The Jews never quite grasped the fact that, GOD’s “special choice” of them, was made for the purpose of “special duty” and responsibility to HIM. Responsibility is always the “obverse” of privilege. In fact, the more opportunity a person has to do right, the greater their condemnation is, when they chose to do wrong. The root of all sin is disobedience to GOD’s law, and in fact, disobedience to GOD’s law is the very definition of sin. Whenever “pride” sets the “will of man” against the “Will of GOD”, the end result is always “sin”.
    Some people even foolishly believe that our sin serves a good purpose in that we will see GOD’s goodness when HE ultimately declares us innocent of sin after HE forgives those who repent. However, if that were the case then GOD’s punishment for us sinning in the first place, would be unjust, and completely unfair. And if GOD is not “just” and “fair”, then, how is HE qualified to judge the world that HE HIMSELF created (Vs.5-6).
    It wouldn’t make sense for GOD to judge and condemn us if our sins and dishonesty actually highlighted HIS truthfulness and brought HIM more glory. We can only glorify GOD by obeying HIM, not by disobeying HIM. In fact, if we follow and adhere to that kind of thinking and logic (thinking our sin glorifies GOD), we are actually saying that, the more we sin, the better it makes GOD look. Anyone who harbors such foolish thoughts deserves to be condemned (Vs.7-8).
    All races of people are sinners, and the Jews that GOD chose as HIS “figurative representative nation” on earth, are no different. All people who have ever lived in this world were indeed born into “the sinful state of the world” that already had existed since the first man, Adam, was created by the literal hands of GOD. And even though GOD made Adam and Eve perfect in the beginning, they squandered that perfection of “GOD’s Nature”, and accepted instead, the “sinful nature” of satan.
    Since that time no one has been sinless as a human being, except JESUS, no, not even one. No one has had real understanding instilled in them by their parents, and therefore, no one has chosen soon enough to seek GOD earnestly. We’ve all, at one time or another, chosen to turn away from GOD in order to pursue our own will, and as a result, our lives have gone terribly awry (Vs.9-12).
    In verses 13-18 the Apostle Paul gives us a laundry list of characteristics that describes perhaps, the worst case scenario, of one who has chosen to live outside of GOD, or has never experienced the benefits of a life abiding in GOD;

“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
 “They rush to commit murder.

   Destruction and misery always follow them.
 They don’t know where to find peace.”
    “They have no fear of God at all.”  (NLT)

    Laws apply to whoever they are given, in the world, and, in one’s dealings in life under GOD. The main purpose of any law is to keep people from having excuses and to bring everyone into judgment before man, and also ultimately, before GOD, the creator of man. If we judge ourselves first, according to the law, and live our lives in obedience to the law, in the end, we won’t have to suffer the penalty of the law.
    From the day of our first sin, we become labeled as sinners, and we can’t ourselves, un-ring a bell, for only GOD can. Through the vicarious sacrifice of CHRIST JESUS, GOD has begun the process of un-ringing the bell of sin, and restoring us back into a right relationship of friendship with HIM. And ultimately, GOD says HE will grant to the believers in CHRIST JESUS, a “new human spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26), and with it, we will be able to enter into, first, the Millennial Kingdom, here on earth, and, into the Kingdom of Heaven, bypassing the White Throne Judgment, in the last day.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander


Friday, July 1, 2016

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday July 3, 2016

Over 105,000 readers worldwide

(Privilege and responsibility)
(Romans 2:17-29)

   In Romans 2:17-29, Paul takes a look at the basis for which first-century Jews claimed spiritual superiority over Gentiles in those days. He shows how both, Jews and Gentiles, as human beings, break the law of GOD, and also how the claim of superiority by the Jews amounts only to an expression of “raw pride” and “unwitting ignorance” on their part. 
    To the Jews, an announcement such as this must have been quite stunning and hard to hear and accept, in those days. They were absolutely certain that GOD regarded them with “special immunity from the fallout of sin favor” simply because of their national origin, or descent from Abraham.
    Remember Abraham is the towering figure to which the Jews traced their origins as GOD’s chosen people. They saw it as a “privilege” to be born Jewish, but never did quite grasp the “responsibility”, in being the “light to the world”, that their Jewish birthright carried with it. They never really, as a nation, accepted the charge that they were to show the world, through their behavior, that Christianity, or the GODly concept before Christianity existed (the Old Testament), really does produce the best men and women.
    Here Paul shows how a relationship with GOD requires an “inner spiritual circumcision of the heart”, not just the outward, physical act of the circumcision of the male’s genital, to be a member of GOD’s covenant community. Paul reminded them that “circumcision” only meant something, if they obeyed GOD’s laws. However, if they didn’t obey GOD’s laws, they were no better off spiritually than the “uncircumcised” Gentile pagans who lived among and around them. In fact, Paul insists that they were not true Jews, unless their hearts were right with GOD (v.29), and here he suggests that an uncircumcised Gentile, who kept GOD’s laws, was much better off than a circumcised Jew who didn’t (v.27).
    In the Greek, the word Paul uses for “praise” in verse 29 is “epainos” (ep-ahee-nos), and it is “a laudable or commendable thing”. Here Paul is saying that, only GOD determines the righteousness of mankind, for it is not a power that given over to man himself. And GOD’s promises are not just to people of a certain race, or to people who bear a certain mark on their bodies, but rather, HIS promises are to those who believe HIM, and exemplify it through their lifestyles and behavior. In other words, it is not a matter of pedigree, but rather, it is a matter of character.
    We must be right with GOD in our living, regardless, of our race. Jews and Gentiles, in order to please GOD, must act like Christians, in both their private, and public life, at all times. Remember, the real mark of your relationship with GOD is on the inside. It is a “circumcision of the heart”, that is performed by the HOLY SPIRIT, that sets a person apart from this world.
    Our moral nature is the only thing that will ever testify about us to GOD, and our acts are the only real measure of our morality. And when our personal history judges us, it will be looking to see if we were, in our lifetimes, rightly related to CHRIST, rightly related to each other as Christians, and, rightly related to the world which we seek to save from damnation (John 15:1-16:4).
    We should pray daily that we will be able, at all times, to show proper reverence for CHRIST, proper love for your fellowman, and maintain the desire and strength, through CHRIST, to not lose our hearts (minds) to people and things of this world, but instead, worship only GOD, the CREATOR of all people, and all things.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander