Sunday, April 25, 2010

Romans 1:1 BEING RELIGIOUS ≠ BEING CHRISTIAN?

Can you believe in God, know all the scriptures, and attend church every Sunday and still not be a Christian? The best example of this is Paul’s life. 
Scripture:
Romans 1:1  “Paul…. (We know that Paul was not always Paul, he was known as Saul of Tarsus.)
Philippians 3:5-6 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.”

Lesson:
As we begin the study of Romans, we must begin with Paul. Paul was Jewish and all Jews were circumcised, an outward symbol of the covenant between the Jewish people and God signifying he was a native Israelite, not a proselyte having been converted to Jewish belief. Born into the tribe of Benjamin, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. A tribe descended from Rachel, the remained faithful when all the other tribes seceded. The soil on which the Jerusalem Temple stood belonged to this tribe. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, meaning he “purebred,” both his parents were an Israelite, therefore he was not a Gentile, (non believer). He was a Pharisee, the strictest sect of religion.  He studied in the Greek schools, and the synagogue schools, learning Hebrew as well as Aramaic. He studied under the greatest Jewish scholar, Gamaliel. He assisted the High Priest and other officials in carrying out the Temple worship. Later he became a rabbi and then became a member of the Office of the High Priest who carried out the worship in the Jerusalem temple and participated in the Sanhedrin. Nothing would stop his zeal when it came to upholding the political structure of the day. He thought Jesus was threatening harmony between the Jews and Roman government. Faultless when it came to his legalistic righteousness. Practiced the traditions of the church and because Jesus did not meet the expectations of the Religious sect, Pharisees or Sadducees, he, Saul, sought to rid the world of Christians. Wow....Can any of your credits match Pauls? Mine cannot?  However, by listing his own credentials, Paul made a point that none of these things have anything to do with our salvation and unless we have a true relationship with Christ it is meaningless. Keep in mind, these things were said of Paul, before he a became a Christian. In other words, being religious is not equivalent to being Christian.

Application:
1.     Can you believe in God, know all the scriptures, and attend church every Sunday and still miss the mark? How do you know?
2.     Can it be possible that we are so bent on practicing traditions and keeping the laws that we fail to see Jesus?
3.     If Satan can keep us from doing what God wants us to do, by getting us to do many “good church things” then he can accomplish his goals. What good things do we do in the name of religion that might be hindering us from what God really want us to do?
4.     Are you more religious basing on what you are doing, or Christian, thus focusing on Christ and what he has done for you?
Prayer:
Father, help us to be more focused on you and our relationship than about doing all those things that seem to be good in themselves. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.