...For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
How precious God's promise to us is, thateveryone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It is such a wonderful grace. As unworthy as we are, the Lord opened the door to salvation for us so that as long as we call on His name, we will be saved. This promise may seem simple. But when we try to look into what is behind this promise, we will find that actually it is far from being simple.
If someone is unwilling to believe, how can he humble himself and call on the name of the Lord? If anyone is willing to call on the name of the Lord, he has to have two understandings: one is that he has to understand that he is powerless and helpless, otherwise he will not feel it necessary to call on other's name; the other is that he has to understand that God is omnipotence and loving, willing to help and capable of helping, otherwise he may or may not call on the name of this God. Therefore, if someone wants to call on God's name, he has to believe first that God can save, heal and help.
How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? Our faith is not blind. If someone has true faith, it has to be based on the never-changing truth. When the truth enters into someone, it will naturally convict that person concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. It will also set that person free from sins and all kinds of bondages.
How can they hear without someone preaching to them? There are still tens of millions of people who have never had the chance to hear the gospel. As Christians we cannot just sit here and wait. We still need to make efforts in unity to fulfill the commission. Think about people around you. You may be the only Christian they know. If you don't preach to them about Jesus, who else will? How can they hear, believe in and call on if they are not preached to?
How can anyone preach unless they are sent? The Lord says in Matthew 28:19: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations". After we become believers, God has already staged us to "go out". We have already been sent into the world. Since we have been sent out, we need to answer God's calling and go out to preach gospel. Once we become obedient, we will witness the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord, which is that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we thank you for sending us. You already gave us the Great Commission to spread the gospel to the end of the world. May the spirit of the Lord anoint us so that we can bravely bear witness for you in our daily life. May you help us be fruitful in our ministry. We thank you and we pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
"But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because ofhis Spirit who lives in you."
These two verses provide a very clear description of the different roles of Jesus Christ and the Spirit. One mistake the church nowadays most likely makes is to mix up their roles, and more often than not attribute the work of the Spirit to Jesus. Paul pointed out that the biggest difference between the roles of Christ and the Spirit is that one is for our spirit and the other is for our body. To further elaborate, one is for our status and the other is for our life. The work of Christ is to sanctify us in status. That is why Paul said: "But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness." Although we are still live in sin, our spirit inside has received life. What Jesus has achieved on the cross has already delivered us from the bondage of sin so that we can be justified by faith to become God's children. That doesn't mean we are already perfect in our life. In fact we may still live in the flesh and sin often to grieve God. On the other hand, we are still God's children that needs the work of the Spirit to be sanctified in our life. So Paul said: "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because ofhis Spirit who lives in you", which means to deliver us from the sins in our life. The Spirit will empower us to live a new life in Christ.
In Chapter 7 Paul mentioned that God's law wages war against the law of the flesh in one's mind. But if he trusts in the Spirit, the power from being filled with the Spirit will deliver him from the bondage of the law. What Christ has done brings about the sanctification in status, while the work of the Spirit brings about the sanctification in life. Do you feel you lack power in your life? Do you need the power of the Spirit to deliver you? As long as you seek earnestly and let the Spirit work on you, the Spirit will work freely inside of you and bring in true freedom.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we thank you for your redemption that makes us God's children. We have to admit that there are still many weaknesses and needs in our heart. May your spirit fill us and enable us to trusting in you, so as to overcome sins and darkness, triumph over the deception and accusation of the enemies, and give you all the glory. We thank you and we pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
"You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ."
If someone accepts the Spirit of Christ, he is no longer in the realm of the flesh. Instead, he is in the realm of Christ. So his mind shouldn't be governed by the flesh, but by the spirit. How can you get your mind governed by the Spirit? Colossians 3:10 says: "and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." Therefore, if we want our minds to be governed by the Spirit, we need to start with our minds, for you will live out what is on your mind. If your mind is filled with the plot of a TV show, you will certainly live like the character in that show. If your mind is filled with God's words, you will live out the life of Jesus Christ. How do you get renewing of the mind then?
First, watch out what TV program you watch, what music you listen to, and what newspaper and magazine you read. If you only read e-mail at work, watch TV after you get home, and listen to radio when you drive every day, your mind will be filled with the worldly things. How is it then possible for you to get renewing of mind? You need to check again your living environment to see if it is filled with God's will. For example, play more worship music when you drive, listen to and read more of God's words in your office as encouragement, and read more spiritual books and journals at home. Put yourself in a spiritual environment, then your mind will become spiritual naturally so as to live a spiritual life. Next, read more of God's words and spend some time keeping God's words in your heart. Psalm 119:11 says: "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Once your mind is filled with God's words, it will be very easy for the Spirit to lead you and speak to you through God's words.
What ifsome bad thought just occurs to you? Martin Luther once said: "You can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair." So don't let that thought stay in your mind, just rebuke it in the name of the Lord. Then it leave your mind. Brothers and sisters, how are your mind and life now? Ask God to cleanse you so that you can live like the Lord.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, may you test our mind, cleanse it and fill it with your words. We thank you and we pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
"The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ."
In verse 6 Paul said: "The mind governed by the flesh is death." Why so? Verse 7 says: "The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God."In fact, James 4:4 also points out the same truth: "Don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?" From people's point of view, they might feel God is somehow too jealous. Isn't it true that the more friends we have, the better? People always like to keep their options open, like putting one foot on a boat. If the two boats are traveling together, then it is okay. But if the two boats are traveling in opposite directions, then you are doomed. You would fall into the water and make a big splash. 1 John 2:15 says: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them." When you love someone with all your heart and soul, you will not accept love from other people. Likewise, if you love the world, it is impossible for you to truly love God. You may come to the Sunday service, and have many ministries. But you cannot truly love God with all your heart and soul. That is why Paul said: "The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."
Why can't it submit? It is because the love inside is not enough to submit to God's law. Submission comes from love. Without love it is very hard to submit. Therefore, a person in the realm of the flesh cannot have God's favor. In fact, another reason is that he doesn't favor God's way either. If you have accepted Jesus as your personal savior, and received the Spirit to live inside, you should know that you are in the realm of the Lord, and not in the realm of the flesh any more. You should leave the path of the flesh and follow God's way. Brothers and sisters, are you walking in God's way? Or maybe a better way to ask is: "Do you love God or the world?" May the Spirit fix our eyes so that we can turn back to Him.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you for not only saving me, but also letting me be in your realm. May you open our eyes so that we can realize that we are no longer in the realm of the flesh, but in your realm. Help us submit to your will and live for you. We thank you and we pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." What is to live according to the flesh? According to Paul, it is to have mind set on what the flesh desires. In the original language to have mind set is to set your mind on something. For a couple in love, if the man knows the woman is fond of flowers, he would sent her flowers every day. If she is fond of poems, even if he knows nothing about the poems, he would still try his best to "squeeze out" a short poem to her. This is to set your mind on something.
What the flesh desires is in contrast to what the Spirit desires. Anything that keeps us from drawing near to God is what the flesh desires. For example, watching TV itself is neither good nor bad. Some TV programs are worth watching. The news program everyday is also concise enough to let you be aware of what is happening in the world. But if you watch TV to a point that it keeps you from drawing near to God, then it becomes what the flesh desires. For example, there is cell group meeting tonight, but there is also the finale of the TV show that you cannot afford to miss. You would think since there is cell group meeting every week anyway, you'd better stay home. Then watching TV just becomes what the flesh desires.
What the Spirit desires is something the Spirit leads you to do. Sometimes the Spirit would lead you to visit church friends, but there might be struggle in your heart: well, it is raining and it is inconvenient to me. Maybe next time! God originally wants you to bring comfort to others, but due to your disobedience, that person will still be in anxiety and sorrow. Sometimes the Spirit would lead you to call someone. But you find out it is already 11 PM. You would think: "Forget it. I will call tomorrow". Due to your disobedience, that person will be unable to experience God's grace. To have your mind set on what the Spirit desires is to follow the lead by the Spirit in your heart.
The mind governed by the flesh is death. This death is not necessarily the immediate physical death. Rather, it stands for the shadow of death and the power of darkness. When we disobey the Spirit, we not only fall under the power of darkness ourselves, but also make others stay in the shadow of darkness without being delivered. When we obey the Spirit, we just become the flowing river that brings out life, love, peace and joy from us. So the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Brothers and sisters, you will face all kinds of options in your life. Are you willing to choose to have your mind set on what the Spirit desires from now on?
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we ask you for an obedient heart that is sensitive to the lead of the Spirit and willing to obey. May the peace of the Lord start to flow out from our life. We thank you and we pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
"For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit."
Why was Paul so sure when he declared, back in Romans 8:1, that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"? It's because, in versus 3, Christ "in the likeness of sinful man" was condemned for our sin. Condemnation as a term in court of law means that the sinful men must wait for the sentencing from God; however, because Jesus was incarnated into the form of a sinful man, but he is not sinful. That means while He had the form of a sinner, He did not sin, and that's why He could take on the penalty for sin from God and the justice of God was satisfied. Therefore, God can now declare that those who are in Christ will not be condemned and the righteousness of law will be fulfilled in us. In order word, I was a condemned sinner waiting to be sentenced, but now not only will I not need to be sentenced, but I am called a righteous man. This is a unprecedented wonder, but it is just the mighty work of God.
Of course, this is not something that can be accomplished naturally; the righteousness of law is accomplished in those of us who "do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." What does it mean to "not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit"? It means we become sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. To those of us who believe in the Lord, we belong to God and the Holy Spirit has been living inside us since the day we accepted the Lord. He also continuously guided us in our life as long as we are willing to listen. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak to us through listening to a sermon, reading God's Word, or the circumstance around us. Whichever way it is, we need to have a sensitive heart to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and to follow it.
When the Lord came to earth, there was a man named Simeon who, in Luke chapter 2, received the Holy Spirit. He received revelation from the Holy Spirit and knew that he will see Christ before he passed away, and then he was prompted by the Holy Spirit to enter the temple. It was a series of acts of submission to the Holy Spirit that brought victory to him, and thus the righteousness of God was manifested.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, I thank you because you died for me so that I could live for you. May the Spirit of the Lord elevate us to be more sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit so that we can follow you and become holy. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
Paul made the great declaration of all time here: "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." In other word, we are no longer bound by the authority of darkness. Those who don't believe in the Lord are basically living under the authority of sin and they have no freedom from sin. Because they have no choice, they can only follow the trend of the world. Why is your value system different from that of your parents? Because the times have changes and trend is different now, and people can only follow different trend of the time. If you lived back in the 60s, you would have become a hippie; but back in the 80s, you'd be a yuppie. A real blessed person, who is not condemned in Christ, will no longer live under the authority of sin.
Before accepting the Lord, we didn't have the freedom of choice, but in Christ we are no longer bound by the authority of sin. We are free and we can choose not to sin; instead, by God's help we can choose to be victorious. Not being condemned in Christ is the result of salvation of Jesus. Now that we are in the position to be free of sin, we can make choices with true freedom. Did you know that in Christ you are free, and you are no longer bound by sin? Many believers are constantly living in failure and weakness because they don't understand such truth.
There used to be a rabbit in our house that has always been caged. One time I felt bad of the rabbit, so I opened the door of the cage to let it come out and freely jump around. The rabbit, however, approached the door and hesitated to cross it, because it was used to living inside the cage and didn't think it should go out from it. The outside world was completely foreign to it. After a while, it slowly moved out of the cage and ran around outside of it freely. Once it tasted freedom, it was certainly hard for it to go back to the cage. Brothers and sisters, are you enjoying true freedom in Christ? May the Spirit of the Lord open your eyes and show you what the freedom in Christ is, and also empower you to overcome sin.
Pray with Pastor Tong
Lord, we thank you because in you we are no longer condemned. May the Spirit of the Lord help us to understand this truth, and help us to live with true freedom. I thank you and I pray in the victorious name of Jesus, amen!