Romans 1

tiger baby
tiger baby
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Jesus being the Son of God is considered one of the most controversial aspects of Christianity. People have a hard time conceptualizing what that really means. In Islam, it is erroneously interpreted as Christians being polytheists. But that is not what Scripture is telling us at all. Simply put, there is only ONE God, and He manifests in 3 separate beings—The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which does not have a flesh form per se and resides in ALL believers simultaneously. From my perspective, if a person can accept that God created the whole universe, including all of the planets, solar systems, and created beings, in six days, it is not hard to accept He can manifest Himself in as many ways as He chooses, especially to make himself known to humans who are the crown of his creation and made in His image.

One of the most beautiful descriptions God provides a believer of his Son, Christ, appears in Colossians:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. [1]

In the first chapter of Romans, the apostle Paul begins his teaching by affirming the dual nature of Christ and how he is entirely human and entirely God, simultaneously. The human aspect of Jesus was created, but the Divine nature within Him that was God, is eternal and uncreated. He is 100% both in one[2].

 3 concerning his Son, who was born ⌊a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared Son of God in power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 1:3–4

In another passage where God foreshadows the arrival of Jesus, He says “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given[3].” Therefore, the part of Christ that is Son of the Father is not born to the Father, he is given. Like the Father Himself, that aspect of his being is entirely uncreated[4]. However, that uncreated Divine nature was “wrapped” in flesh and was born on Earth through the virgin Mary in order to save humanity from the penalty of its sins. When Mary was upset at the notion that she would give birth to a child even though she was chaste and had never been with a man, the angel of God tried to calm her fears and explain to Mary this dual nature of her child. 

 35 And the angel answered and* said to her,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,

and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Therefore, also the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

Luke 1:35

Despite the elaborate detail of Jesus’ duality, Paul subtly warns the reader not to think Jesus’s human nature means that we should worship mortal things. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! He teaches us that no mortal things can ever fulfill the place of the immortal God and that focusing on material things is just foolishness that eventually leads only to sin and death.

As an example, Paul seems to mock the Jews for assigning Godlike qualities to foolish things like the Golden Cow. It’s an admonition for us not to worship worldly things like money or fame, thinking they can answer our “prayers/wants and needs.” He is also intimating that no being of any kind other than God is worthy of worship. As human beings, we try to fill the hollow places inside us with these “beings” but they never can fill the void that only a relationship with Christ/God can fill.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God with the likeness of an image of mortal human beings and birds and quadrupeds and reptiles. Romans 1: 22-23

Romans 1:26

Because of this, God gave them over to degrading passions, for their females exchanged the natural relations for those contrary to nature.

Paul goes on to say that when we are willing to sacrifice such an important truth as the supremacy of God then the lesser truths aren’t far behind. Paul’s approach is less of a moral judgment and more of an observation regarding the natural consequences of human decisions.

This also foreshadows how human beings end up tolerating all sorts of emotional “degradation” in abusive co-dependent relationships. We “trade” in our dependence on God alone for dependence on a spouse or a parent and expect them to fill the void in our life. Inevitably they fall short. Wholeness and true contentment can only come from a relationship with God, through Christ.

[1] The New International Version. (2011). (Col 1:15–16, then 19-20). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Runge, S. E. (2014). High Definition Commentary: Romans (p. 27). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Isaiah 9:6

[4] Ibid

Romans

lion baby
lion baby
By Hedieh Mirahmadi
Background: The book of Romans in the Bible was written by the Apostle Paul, also known as Saul. He was such a devout believer in Judaism that he severely persecuted the followers of Christ.

When he was on the way to Damascus to arrest believers there, God got his attention, as recorded in Acts 9:1-6. Supernatural light blinded him, and as he lay on the ground, he heard the voice of Jesus.

A lot of people didn’t believe in the power of seeing Jesus after he had ascended. Many don’t believe that he appears to people today even if he did so for Paul back then.

But others do believe in the power of God to do anything, and that Jesus is the same as before, today and forever. If you are one of them, then you accept that these things are still possible.

In my own conversion experience, I heard Jesus’s voice, then saw a vision of him. He made it abundantly clear to me that He called me for a distinct purpose, just as He called Paul. I, too, was a believer in another faith: born of a sacred lineage and a devout Muslim. Christ revealed Himself to me, and therefore I cannot deny the calling He has placed on my life. It may involve pain and suffering, as it did for Paul.

In Romans, Paul expresses his deep desire to promote unity between believers in Jesus who were originally Jewish and those who were Gentiles. 

Since everyone who was not Jewish was considered a Gentile, that term encompasses nearly all of humanity who accept and are born again in Christ, including atheists and Muslims.

Paul wrote passionately and convincingly, with love and respect for the Jewish people. He wanted them to realize the immense gift of grace that comes through the acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior. He also plainly described the dangers of not doing so.

I found his arguments brilliantly articulated, with grace, divine power, and conviction. His words spoke to me so clearly about why faith in Jesus is so irrefutable and necessary.—We all need faith. Not only for our salvation but for joy and transformation in this life as well.

I want to share with you some inspiration I received from the Holy Spirit about how the Book of Romans relates to my own experience. vb         

General Themes in Romans

  • Paul begins his argument by describing God’s wrath against all mankind. In case his Jewish readers thought that their heritage somehow made them better, Paul shows otherwise in the second chapter. In fact, a Jew who judges a Gentile stands condemned by the same standard. All sin. All must repent. No one has the right to point accusing fingers at anyone else. The people who confidently believe they have measured up to God’s righteous standard may be in the most danger.
  • Only through acceptance of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of the one true God can we achieve reconciliation and unity. Christ represents the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to humanity. These go all the way back to Abraham, the father of all monotheistic religions, including Judaism and Islam.  
  • Paul sought the reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles but also wanted to be clear and convincing about the consequences of not accepting the one true God alone is worthy of worship.
  • God’s very first commandment is that his people worship no other gods. But Paul recognizes that all of us are slaves to temptation and sin, because we put our other desires such as wealth, sex, and fame as idols. Our idolatry of our desires rather than God can only lead to sin and death. God reveals his wrath on our unrighteousness both individually and as a society. Proper fear of God entails fearing both his wrath and his grief.
  • In the seventh chapter, Paul eloquently describes how even the most devout adherents to religious law can be the worst perpetrators of sin. The law reveals what sin is, and our flesh then desires it. It’s a vicious cycle. We agree with the law and want to follow it. But the sin that still lives in us impels us to live otherwise. Only the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit can rescue us from this body of death. 
  • Though Paul wrote to Jews and Roman Gentiles, the universality and eternal nature of the word of God applies to all humanity at all times. So it is a warning to any learned believer that they should avoid self-righteous thinking or the condemnation of others as if their sins are somehow less than the sin of those less versed in the law. The other great monotheistic religions should take heed. Jews don’t accept the divinity of Christ or even acknowledge he was a prophet. In the Islamic tradition, Jesus was born of an immaculate conception, ascended to Heaven without death, and is believed to return in the last days to defeat the anti-Christ. However, it only assigns him the title of prophet and absolutely denies his divinity. If Muslims can consider this objectively, without the lens of politics, they can take heed of the Scripture as the infallible word of God for humanity and not just a “holy book.”

Woman at the Well

women up
women up
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Looking back, I can see now how all of my life has led me to my relationship with Jesus. All of the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the heartache. He was calling me all along. It sure didn’t feel like it at the time. For years, I strode full speed in the wrong direction. Then in another wrong direction. Rinse, repeat. Professionally, I was recognized as one of the best in my field. I worked through 4 Presidential administrations and my advice was sought out by decision makers at the highest levels of government. My work has probably prevented acts of terrorism. Saved lives. But do you want to know the truth? I was never at peace or felt real joy, not even at the height of my professional success. I felt empty and often said to myself, “How did I get here?” I won’t bore you with the details of my professional successes, since that’s not really the point. It’s enough to say that I exceeded even my family’s wildest dreams.  But it wasn’t enough. I knew, deep down, it would never be enough.

When it finally snapped in me that the religious life of a Muslim wasn’t the answer, I returned to all of the same bad habits from way back when, filling the empty spaces with things that would never bring the peace I so desperately sought. 

Maybe you can relate to this. Have you ever had one of those moments where you just can’t do it anymore? You’ve given all you have. Tried everything. And you’re just done? Lost. Falling. I prayed to God, please help me. I’m lost. That was the moment. In that moment, without even realizing I was doing it, I invited Jesus Christ into my heart, into my life. And He welcomed me with open arms. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t going to fall any more, ever again. I could feel Him supporting me. The weight in my chest felt as light as a feather. My fears were gone. My heart was free, filled with peace, love, joy. Jesus was there with me, by my side, providing everything I needed. He is still there with me, every moment of every day. The wonderful thing? He’s there for you too. He’s here for all of us. There is a story in the Bible, that speaks directly to my heart. Perhaps you have heard it. John recounts the day Jesus arrived in the town of Samaria. He was thirsty from his long journey, so the first thing He did upon entering the town was to go to a well. A woman was there, and Jesus asked her for a drink. She was shocked. She was not Jewish. Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another. And she was a woman. John tells us that even Jesus’s disciples were surprised that He was speaking with her.

He proceeds to tell her about her life and how she’s looking for love in all the wrong places. He promises her the water of life, which would forever quench her thirst for acceptance and love, when she instantly realizes He must be the Messiah because He knew her deepest secrets and needs. Though she knew nothing about what He was preaching, the miracles He performed elsewhere, or even about the Old Testament, she became one of the first evangelists for Christ. It was her faith and passion for the message of freedom that made her whole village run after Christ.

I love her story because her message of Jesus is simple. Come meet the Messiah–have faith in Him and He will set you free. 

I come to you in much the same way. I am not a Bible scholar, I haven’t been a Believer my whole life, and none of my extended family members are even Christians. However, I have encountered the Son of the One living God that has changed my life forever. All of my past experiences were divinely engineered for such a time as this.

Very simply, Jesus has transformed my life. I was a broken woman, lost, afraid. But now? All of that is in the past. I was born again in Christ, the One who gave His life for me to be free, a priceless gift I didn’t earn and surely didn’t deserve. He placed in my heart the purpose to spread this message to anyone who would listen in hopes that it would inspire you to embark on a similar journey of liberation that comes simply by faith and Love Of Christ. 

I want the same for you. I pray that my story touches your heart, just like the woman at the well’s story touched the hearts of those in her town. May you be like the people of Samaria and have your own encounter with Jesus. Then you, too, may know. He is here, right now. He is ready to help you. All you have to do is ask. Think of it as a personal invitation for A Jesus Encounter.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” Jn 4:39, NIV

Who knows? Perhaps you have come to a royal position for a time such as this.