The Power of the Gospel

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Romans 1:18

It did not take long for the city of Rome to become the center of Christian life and civilization in the ancient world. Although Christians disagree about the official role of the bishop who presided there, no one can discount that within a few generations at most, Rome was considered the center of the Christianity.

But before that occurred, Paul wrote his most complete theological treatise as a letter to the Christians who were meeting there. The opening chapter of Romans contains one of the Paul’s most stirring declarations – “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God that brings salvation.”

At the same time this chapter makes a startling claim. The righteous judgment of God against human sin is showing up in the way that God is allowing human society to get worse and worse. When we deny that God exists and that He deserves our worship, we bring ourselves under that judgment.

Human wrong is the sickness. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the cure. We have to recognize that we have a disease before we know we need a doctor. As Jesus Himself said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

 

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Fathers Day

“Our Father which art in heaven…” so begins the prayer that Jesus taught His followers to pray, what we often call “The Lord’s Prayer.” It wasn’t unknown for Jews to call God, “Father,” but Jesus made it clear that God’s fatherly love is at the heart of who God is. Even the best human fathers sometimes fail, sometimes are neglectful or hurtful to their children. But God is a Father who always loves, even when His children are rebellious and stubborn.

The most famous New Testament verse speaks about this love of God for us as His children. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” God’s love for us is a sacrificial love. He was willing to give His most precious possession. And Jesus copied this love of God because He was willing to give His life as well.

In addition to His own sacrifice, God gives Himself to us in another way. Luke tells us that Jesus said to His followers, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13). God gives us His Spirit to live within our hearts to guide us and convict us of sin.

Perhaps the most powerful teaching of Jesus about the fatherhood of God comes from another story in Luke: the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. In this story, a rebellious son asks for his inheritance before his father dies. He then blows all that money living a wild life. Afterward he can’t find work and is about to starve. He decides to return to his father to beg for a job as a servant. When he gets home, his father throws a big party to celebrate his return and accepts him as his son once again. This story is offensive to many because it suggests God’s acceptance of those who are really sinful.

Yes it does. That is the love of the Father. “For God demonstrates His own love in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

As you celebrate Fathers Day this week, remember you have a heavenly Father who loves you. He loves you no matter what you have done.

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

Marriage

Why is it so hard to have a long-term marriage in contemporary America? A lot of theories are suggested to explain this fact. Many marriages end in divorce. More and more, young people are choosing to live together instead of getting married. Many women have babies without any thought that they should also have a husband.

A lot of people in America are convinced that marriage just isn’t worth the trouble. It’s too difficult to make it work. You only have to get to the 2nd chapter in the whole Bible to find the story of how God created people and made them to be together in the union of marriage. I think that this is a strong indication of the importance of marriage. It also gives us clues about what marriage is supposed to be and why it often doesn’t work in America.

God created Eve from Adam’s rib because “it was not good for him to be alone.” So the first purpose of this union was to provide human companionship. Genesis says that “the man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife.” Married couples are supposed to cling to each other. And this clinging to each other produces all of the good things that a marriage can be: comfort, physical affection, children, spiritual encouragement, and a lot more.

Marriage in the Bible is a covenant. That means it is an agreement that a couple makes to God and to each other, a sacred oath to love, and cherish and persevere. “What God has joined together, let no one put asunder,” Jesus says.

Television shows and popular culture have given us the idea that marriage is supposed to make us breathlessly happy all the time. So when it fails to do that, and it will fail eventually, we want to give up on it. But often the real purpose and the real benefits of marriage come when the infatuation wears off. Then the real loving begins.

Yes, there are sometimes when a marriage becomes toxic and must be abandoned. But those times are a lot rarer than the divorce rate would suggest. Most of the time, marriages can grow and improve if couples are willing to make it work, to practice forgiveness and renewal, to apologize and reconcile.

The Bible also tells us that marriage is an image of our relationship with God. We are the dressed-up bride of Jesus waiting for the marriage supper of the Lamb. Maybe there is a connection between the decline of stable marriages and the decline of church attendance and belief in God. It certainly is true that Christians have an opportunity to bear witness to the power and love of God, through the power and love of a faithful marriage.

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC