God’s Wondrous Love—Romans 5:6-8



Memorial Day is primarily when we remember those soldiers who have fallen in service for our nation. There are at least two words that make up the actions that make Memorial Day: Love and sacrifice. A soldier’s love for their nation, family, and comrades; A soldier’s willingness to sacrifice themselves for their nation, family, and comrades.


Where does that willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of love come from? It points us to Someone greater than ourselves. We are all made in the image of God, and so His characteristics of love and sacrifice are in some measure passed on to us. Yes, God Himself, is a loving God who was willing  to sacrifice Himself for us.


6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God  commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8)


In these verses we learn about the love of God, which is great and awesome. But we don’t appreciate much the love of God until we learn about…

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How A New Creature Lives A New Life—Romans 6:11-14



In 2 Corinthians 5, we find one of those famous, oft-memorized verses:


17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)


Have you ever thought really hard about that verse? It says that a Christian is a new creature (meaning, creation) and all things about him or her have become new. If that’s true, then why do we often seem to live by the old ways so much? What does it mean that a Christian is new? Is it like a used car or a refurbished smart phone? New to you, but still a little old? 

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Our Propitiation—Romans 3:25a



23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:23–25)




Romans 3:25a Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…


1.1) The Meaning of Propitiation


“To be a propitiation” (hilastērion). Propitiation is an old and difficult word, but it is also an important Biblical word. What does propitiation mean? It is an offering that appeases someone’s wrath. A husband bringing flowers to his angry wife is bringing a propitiation. Alva J. McClain says that a propitiation is… “a reason for not executing punishment which is deserved.”1 


Do you remember how Jacob and Esau had a falling out and Jacob ran away from his brother for two decades? When Jacob came back home, he was really worried that Esau would kill him for stealing his birthright. So he sent ahead a present consisting of animals. Listen to what he said:


…I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me. (Genesis 32:20)


The word “appease” is, in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Greek word for propitiation. Jacob was hoping that the present of animals would be a propitiation that would appease Esau’s anger.


Propitiation assumes that there is someone who is justly angry and needs to be appeased. It’s not politically correct to think of God as being angry or wrathful, even among Christians. But it is what we find in the Bible. For instance,


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (Romans 1:18)


God hates sin and ungodliness and unrighteousness. He is angry with it. What could possibly placate the wrath of God against sin? Keep that in mind as we look at…

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The Christian’s Civil War—Romans 7:21-25



The hymn, “Hold the Fort,” was written by Philip Bliss in 1870. The inspiration for the song came when Bliss heard the story of the Union’s defense of Allatoona Pass towards the end of the Civil War. 


The Confederates hoped to disrupt General Sherman’s supply lines by blocking the railroad that ran through the pass. The story is that Sherman signaled the garrison to “hold the fort” and “I am coming” or words something to the effect. There was a small, but extremely bloody battle. But the Union forces held their ground.


The message of the hymn is that Christians need to hold the fort of their faith against the persistent attacks of the world with the hope that one day Jesus will come.


Yet, it’s not just the battle against the world that we must hold the fort. There’s another war in which we must hold the fort. In fact, it’s a civil war because it takes place within us. 


There are two opposing forces in this war: One is the law of sin in our flesh and the other is the law of God in our mind.


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Freedom Means Not Going Back To The Jail Of Sin—Romans 6:1-2

20170702FBC [Independence Day]

Levi Durfey 




When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government…


We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown…(From the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).


With these words, the colonies declared their intention to separate from Britain and establish a new government. But then, after the Revolutionary War had won the freedom of the American colonies, 


The most senior officers [of the army] believed that the natural order of events was to decide who would become King of the new country.  The senior military officers and civilian leadership consulted and concluded that Washington was the clear choice to be crowned King.   When approached with the offer of a kingdom he was appalled but did not react with anger.  Instead, he declined and tactfully suggested the populace would not accept the idea of a King of America.  Shortly thereafter he turned the army back over to civilian control and retired from military service. (https://www.hcla.net/leadership-link/details/hcla-leadership-link-january-2014)


George Washington understood that America could not go back to the old way. The new piece of cloth could not be attached to the old garment. The new wine could not be poured into the old wineskins. He, along with the other founding fathers, understood that they had been set free from the tyranny of the past and they could not go back there.


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What Does A Genuine Love For One Another Look Like?—Romans 12:9-13

20170319FBCAM [Anniversary Sunday]

Levi Durfey 




Turn to Romans 12:9-13. Our passage there begins with the phrase:


Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation [genuine].

9 ἡ ἀγάπη ἀνυπόκριτος.


Dissimulation is the “concealment of one’s thoughts, feelings, or character” (Oxford Dictionary). You could say “Let love be without hypocrisy…pretending…faking it.” Or you could just say it in a positive sense, “Let love be genuine.”


Judas is an example of a person who pretended to love others. He pretended to love the poor. When a woman wiped Jesus’s feet with expensive ointment, Judas complained,


5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare [stole] what was put therein.(John 12:5–6)


And, of course, the kiss he placed on Jesus’s cheek in the Garden of Gethsemane as he betrayed Him marks one of history’s most despicable displays of fake love for someone. 


What’s most sad about Judas’s lack of genuine love for others is that he had been walking with Jesus for three years. He had heard Jesus’s teaching and seen His love and concern for other people. Yet, Judas wasn’t changed. He didn’t get it. 


To be fair, of course, the other disciples would also have their own problems, both before and after the resurrection of Jesus. 


And of course, today, Christians still have struggles with having a genuine love for others.


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Not Ashamed! — Romans 1:16-17


Levi Durfey 




When I was in high school, there was a new kid, whom I liked, but my friends didn’t. I don’t remember why they didn’t like him. Perhaps they, like many kids, didn’t need a reason to not like the new kid. 


They committed all sorts of mean practical jokes against him, and I caught in the middle, participated with them. We superglued the dial on his combination padlock that he had on his locker, we used a magnet to erase his computer disks, and things like that.


One day, he caught me in the Industrial Arts classroom and said, “I thought you were my friend.” Never were more convicting words spoken. I was and still am ashamed of the things I helped do against him.


What does it mean to be ashamed of something? It is to be guilty or embarrassed because of something you did. We can be ashamed of actions, of words, attitudes, or even who we are.


In Romans 1:16-17, Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of his association with the Gospel—of his relationship with Jesus Christ.


16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16–17)


What does it mean to be ashamed of the Gospel? Being ashamed of the Gospel means being ashamed of Christ. It’s watering down your faith out of fear of offending someone. It’s not speaking about Jesus when you should. 


By the way, the Gospel is not the same as a certain kind of politics. Some Christians are very loud about talking about politics, but they suddenly get quiet when speaking about the actual Gospel.


Perhaps the most infamous example of being ashamed of Christ is Peter’s denial of Christ:


69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. (Matthew 26:69–74)


We’re hard on Peter, but would we have done any better? 


It’s easy for us to be ashamed of the Gospel. We’re driven to be ashamed of the Gospel by a culture that wants us to be quiet. We are told that we’re arrogant if we teach Christ is the only way to Heaven. We’re told that we’re anti-intellectual if we believe in a supernatural deity that came and died for our supposed sins.


Jesus and His Gospel has always been a problem for people. Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthian church, said: 


18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)


People don’t like to be told that there is one way to be saved. They don’t like to hear the preaching of the Cross. And they go out of their way sometimes to make a believer feel ashamed.


In Romans 1:16-17, Paul gives two reasons not to be ashamed of the Gospel. In verse 16, he says it is because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. In verse 17, he says that he is not ashamed because the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God by faith.

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Are You Okay? The Need and Nature of Salvation—Romans 3:23-24


Levi Durfey 


This last spring, I took our canoe out on Fort Peck Lake by myself. I had gone out with the kids several times, with no problems, so I figured it would be even easier to go by myself without the extra weight (which, as it turned out, is actually a good thing to have in the right places in a canoe).


For awhile I was fine, but then the wind came up a little and there were a few big boats that made some waves. I got a course back to camp laid in and started paddling, but the canoe kept spinning around and pointing the wrong way. 


Later, when I made it back to camp and the family told me that my bow was sticking up out of the water, I realized that I had made a rookie mistake and sat in the back of the canoe.


But at that point, on the lake, I didn’t know that. I was stuck in a frustrating cycle of getting the canoe pointed in the right direction, paddling a few strokes, and then having it spin around on me.


Then, out of nowhere, comes this old man with a white beard in a jalopy of a boat. I mean it was just a little old boat that looked as old as the man himself did. He putters up and says, “Are you okay?”

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How To Be A Living Sacrifice—Romans 12:1

Romans 12:1 ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 




“I beseech you therefore, brethren,”—Many times in the New Testament, you will find Paul “beseeching” or urging believers.


There are some Christians who believe that you are supposed to live the Christian life by letting go and letting God do everything. If that were the case, then Paul wouldn’t have beseeched so much!


The Christian life cannot be lived through our own strength, but neither is it lived without our effort. It is a life of cooperation with God and dependence on God—but it is not a passive life without effort. 


Speaking of cooperation and dependence, that is where we turn next. What Paul is about to beseech us to do, he first says we are to do it in cooperation with God…

Read More: How To Be A Living Sacrifice-Romans 12.1-Levi Durfey.pdf

Why Can’t We Be Saved By Good Works?—Romans 4:1-5


Levi Durfey




There was a preacher who explained salvation like this:


It seems that a frog one day fell into a pail of milk, and though he tried every conceivable way to jump out, he always failed. The sides were too high, and because he was floating in the milk he could not get enough leverage for the needed leap. So he did the only thing he could do. He paddled and paddled and paddled some more. And oila!—his paddling had churned a pad of butter from which he was able to launch himself to freedom. The preacher’s message was: “Just keep paddling, keep on working, keep on doing your best, and you will make it.”[1]


Sadly, many people, even preachers really do think that salvation is earned by working hard like that frog. A survey was taken several years ago of 7000 church-going teens from a number of denominations. The results show that…


  • 70% thought it was true that God is satisfied if a person lives the best life he can. 
  • 60% agreed that God accepts you if you sincerely try to be good.[2] 


Now remember, these were church-going teens, but they answer the way world wants to believe about God. Either that seeped into the churches they attended, or the churches weren’t clear enough to counteract the world’s teaching. Just to be clear, then, what does the Bible say?


Is God satisfied if you live the best life you can?


48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)


Does God accept you if you sincerely try to be good?


10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10–12)


20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)


28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)


Well now, that’s pretty clear, isn’t it? But why can’t we be justified by works or good deeds? That’s what we turn to now…

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