The Old Preacher

Viewing the World through God's Word

Law’s Judgment: A Look in the Mirror

With all the grace-talk in the church (rightly so), one might think God’s law is bad.  Especially since Paul wrote that we died to it, that it arouses sinful passions in us and that it leads us to death.

Here (7:7-13) Paul defends God’s law.

What then should we say? That the law is sin?” (7:7a).

Why would Paul even anticipate such a question?  Because the law, arouses passions in our sin-nature body.  So, is the law evil?

“By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (7:7b).

Paul answers emphatically: “Absolutely not!”  I see three important points in Paul’s explanation about the “good” of God’s law.

First, Paul assumes it is binding.  It stands outside ourselves as a revelation of God’s sovereign authority.  Paul doesn’t question the coveting-command’s authority.  It’s true.  It’s reality.  It’s in place as God’s decree.

Second, I think Paul chose the “You shall not covet” command, not because he had a special bent toward coveting, but because we all have a special bent toward it.  We all have, what commentator Leon Morris calls, “encompassing illicit desires of every kind”.

Third, law’s purpose is to reveal sin.  The law uncovered Paul’s inward covetousness.  When Paul read, “You shall not covet”, he realized the desire inside him was covetousness and was sin against God.  In that sense, law is like the doctor who tells us we have cancer.  It’s bad news we don’t want to hear.  But, only by hearing it, can we pursue a cure.

Paul assures sin, not law, is the “bad guy” . . .

“But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.” (7:8-11).

By “seizing the opportunity” Paul envisions war.  When the commandment is preached, sin uses the commandment as a base of operations and springs to life and “produced in me all kinds of covetousness.”

It’s a sad fact of fallen human nature that the more we’re told something’s wrong, the more we want it.  The forbidden mysteriously pulls us to it.  Why did Eve want the forbidden fruit?  Satan tempted her—by using the prohibition to whet her appetite.

What does Paul mean, “Apart from the law sin lies dead”?  Not that there is no sin apart from the law, but that apart from the law there is no incitement of “reviving” of sin.  “I was once alive apart from the law . . . “  What past time is Paul referring to?  Perhaps when, as a boy, he knew You shall not covet”, but sin had not yet “revived.”  But the more he knew the commandment the more sin in him enticed him to covet.  That’s when he knew he lived under God’s death sentence.  “The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4).

“ . . . but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.” Through Moses, Paul knew the Lord had promised, “Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land” (Leviticus 25:18).  But in his experience, the commandment was the occasion for sin to spring into life inside him–and he stood condemned to death before God.

Another fact that the “bad guy” isn’t the law, but sin.  Paul writes, “ . . . sin . . . deceived me.”  It swindled him.  Duped him.  Betrayed him.  Promised him fulfillment, delivered death.

“So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.  Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure” (7:12,13).

So then, the law is not evil (7:7) but “holy”.  That is sacred, set apart for God’s purposes. And God’s commandment “holy and just . . . “.  That is, righteous, in accord with what God requires.  And it is “good”.  That is, morally good and beneficial.

This good law didn’t bring death to Paul.  Absolutely not.  It was sin, sin working through the good law so sin “might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment (which “revived” sin) might become sinful beyond measure.

Here are two purposes for God’s law, says Paul.  One, that we might recognize sin for the sin that it is.  Not a mistake.  Not a simple moral failure.  But evil before God.  And, two, that sin might become excessively sinful.  Not something small that we can “handle”.  But something that controls us and threatens our very existence.

* * *

How casually I read God’s laws!  I skim over, “You shall not murder”, because I don’t even think of it.  But then, I find Jesus saying . . .

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister,  you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5;21,22).

I don’t murder, but act in anger.  So I’m liable to God’s judgment.  Not to their faces, but in my home’s privacy I call certain business people “stupid.”  So I’m liable to hell’s fires.

No, not me!  That can’t be!  Look in the mirror of God’s law.  Look in the mirror and see yourself.  You stand hopelessly under God’s judgment.  You face the fires of hell.  You must see yourself as you are:  guilty of sin upon sin.  Gehenna, the burning garbage dump, awaits.

Except . . . for Jesus.




Law-Dead, Spirit-Alive

I live under laws.  Traffic laws.  IRS laws.  Criminal laws.  I have to obey them or be punished.  God has laws, too.  Think Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17).  Or Jesus’ intensification of them in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:27).  But Paul argues we’re not under law (6:14).  What does he mean?  What’s our relationship to God’s law?  And how should we live not “under” law?

Paul begins this text (7:1-6) with a simple question . . .

“Do you not know, brothers and sisters — for I am speaking to those who know the law — that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime?” (7:1).

The law holds no authority over a dead person.  A dead man is not obligated to keep the Ten Commandments.  Nor can the law condemn a dead man for disobedience.  Here’s Paul’s example . . .

“Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress” (7:2,3).

If her husband dies, a woman is “discharged from the law” that requires marital faithfulness.  Now “she is free from that law” to marry another man.  So what does that mean to Jewish and Gentile Roman Christians?  And to us?

“In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God” (7:4).

We are not “under law” because we have “died to the law”.  (This must have shocked Jewish Christians who knew that the blessed man delights in the Lord’s law and meditates on it day and night (Psalm 1:1,2).  “Not under law” means I don’t look to law to tell me how to live.  And we’re not under law because we died to the law.

How?   “ . . . through the body of Christ.”  In some mysterious way, God identified us with, connected us with, joined us with Christ in his crucifixion.  And in that union, Paul tells his readers (and us), they (we)  died to the law.  The preacher can proclaim it over us.  He can warn us of terrifying punishment.  But, we lie there like a corpse.  It no longer defines our way of living.

God’s law still stands.  And we are still alive.  So what does Paul mean by “you have died to the law”?

A jump to 1 Corinthians 15:56 may help us better understand what this means for us.  Paul writes . . .

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”

If the power of sin is the law, then the power of the law is sin.  So Paul writes,

“While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.” 

The law is holy, but because of our sinful nature, God’s law has power to arouse the sinful passions of us who (apart from Christ) live under sin’s dominion.  But we died to the law; therefore, our sinful passions can’t be aroused by law to produce death in us.

But God didn’t stop by “killing” us to the law.  He “killed” us to law, so that we may belong to the resurrected Christ and bear fruit for him . . .

  “ . . . so that [we] may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.”

The NRS and the NIV translate the Greek word ginomy, “belong to”.  The NKJV translates it “married to”.  So I think Paul means God “killed” us to law so that we may belong to the resurrected Christ the way a wife “belongs” in a love union to her husband.  (Think that statement sexist? It’s also the way a husband “belongs” in a love union to his wife.)

God’s purpose is that we might belong to Christ as the defining power in our lives, not his law  And his ultimate purpose is  that “we may bear fruit for God.”  What does Paul mean by “fruit”?

In this context, he means righteousness.  “Fruit” is righteousness for God, righteousness that glorifies God.  This righteousness is the very same conduct (and character!) God’s law requires!  But we don’t produce this “right-ness” by struggling to live by the Ten Commandments.  Now, belonging to the resurrected Christ, he fulfills that righteousness in us . . .

“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:3,4).

Later, to the Philippians (1:9-11), Paul will write . . .

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ– to the glory and praise of God.”

Finally, Paul explains further by striking the contrast between law-living and “the new life of the Spirit” . . .

 “ (For) While we were living in the flesh (NIV—controlled by the sinful nature), our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (7:5,6).

Before faith in Christ, Paul’s readers (and us) were living under the lordship of our sinful nature.  God’s law (the core being the Ten Commandments) “aroused our sinful passions”.  The result:  unrighteousness that leads to death.

But now, having “died” to the law which held us captive to our sinful passions, we are “discharged” from living under law.  The result:  we’re not slaves “under the old written code” (which is holy but without power to produce what it requires); we’re slaves “in the new life of the Spirit.”  That is, the Holy Spirit births in us the life of the resurrected Christ.  That life is a life of righteousness.  And it’s mediated to us by “the Spirit”.

* * *

I’ve never lived “under law”.  I’ve never entered into the Old Mosaic Covenant.  But I remember sitting in my Bible College “Romans and Galatians” class, when abruptly “the light came on”.  I realized I could do nothing to be justified and that the Spirit provided the power for my sanctification.  I, who grew up in the church and was preparing for ministry, had up to that moment thought I was “under law” with Christ’s sacrifice mixed in.  Without realizing it, I was like the Galatians–having started with the Spirit, I was now ending with the flesh (Galatians 3:3).

This doesn’t mean I tear down the Ten Commandments from my refrigerator and just see what the
Spirit does.  It means rather that, in this fight to live righteously in a fallen world with a still sinful nature, I’m not under law’s condemnation, law’s powerlessness, and law’s sin-arousal.  I have been united with Christ in a resurrection like his (6:5).  I can consider myself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (6:11).  I must remember I am under grace (6:14).  I must believe that I belong to him who was raised from the dead (7:4).  I can be confident that I live in the new life of the Spirit (7:6).

With that, I’m armed for the fight to bear the fruit of righteousness for God’s glory.  Bring it on!






Not Under Law, Should We Live Lawlessly?

“FOR THE NEXT 100 MILES YOU ARE NOT UNDER TRAFFIC LAWS!”  I couldn’t believe the sign. Put the pedal to the metal!  No lurking police!

Not true, of course. But Paul’s promise is.  “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

Sin is a power.  “ . . . Jews and Greeks are under the power of sin (Romans 3:10).  But it will no longer lord it over us if we have been made right with God through faith in Christ.  The reason? We are “not under law but under grace”.  Paul will elaborate in the next two chapters.  For now, he presents a question which Jewish Christians in Rome, raised “under law”, would inevitably ask . . .

“Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (Romans 6:15a).  In Deuteronomy, Moses prepared the Israelites for the Promised Land.

“ , , ,if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness” (Deuteronomy 6:25).

But Christ ended the Mosaic era. We’re not under law any longer; we’re under grace.  Should we live lawlessly?  By no means!” (6:15b).  Why such an emphatic NO?

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?“ (6:16).

Slavery was common in Rome.  Paul’s readers would know if a man offers to be someone’s slave, he is a slave and the one to whom he offers himself is his master.

As humans, writes Paul, we have only two alternatives.  One: live under the dominion of sin leading to death-like separation from God.  Two: live under the dominion of obedience to righteousness (“you have become slaves of righteousness”—6:18) leading to righteousness in character and conduct.

The present tense of “present yourselves” (Greek, paristanete) implies an ongoing offering.  The more we present ourselves to sin, the more “dead” we are in our relationship with God.  The more we present ourselves to obedience to righteousness, the more righteous we are in character and conduct.

Paul thanks God that the freed-from-sin’s-power Romans have become “slaves of righteousness” . . .

“But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification” (6:17-19).

The former slaves to sin have been “entrusted” or “handed over to” a “form of teaching”.  By the mid-50’s A.D. there was a defined body of Christian doctrinal and ethical teaching.  Paul had given them over to that—to learn and to follow.  And they “have been obedient from the heart” to that teaching.  They have become “slaves of righteousness”.

Parenthetically, Paul explains he’s speaking “in human terms because of your natural limitations”.  That is, the spiritual concepts involved here are too complex for them to grasp, so Paul uses slavery as an analogy.

He continues with an exhortation:  you used to offer the members of your body to impurity and to increasing iniquity; now offer them to righteousness resulting in “sanctification”.  Sanctification is another word for holiness—a life morally set apart to God.  This “righteousness for sanctification” is a process.  Just as the Roman Christians’ iniquity grew greater and greater, so now Paul urges them toward greater and greater holiness.

“When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:20-23).

Still persuading the Romans not to live lawlessly even though they’re not “under law”, Paul reminds them as “slaves of sin” they were not restrained in any way by righteousness.  But “what advantage” (Greek, karpos—fruit) did they gain from the behavior they are now ashamed of?  Those things end in “death”—separation from God, ultimately eternally.

But, they have been set free from sin’s power and made slaves of God.  The fruit of that is “sanctification” and the end is “eternal life” with God

For the pay-off of sin is death, but God’s “gift” (charisma) “is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Even though eternal life  is the outcome of Christians offering themselves to righteousness, that offering is not meritorious.  The power to not present themselves to sin but to righteousness comes from God.  Sanctification–a benefit of slavery to God–is God’s work.  There the end of the whole process–eternal life–is God’s gift.

Paul means all this to move the Romans to answer “Should we sin, because we are not under law but under grace?” the same way he did–“By no means!”

* * * *

At times I’m tempted to offer myself to sin.  Anger, for instance.  In my illness, I can be an angry man.  And I agree the sin of anger is a power that I sometimes allow to rule me.  (Please don’t think I beat my wife.  Words or withdrawal–that’s how I express my anger.)

There are, of course, other sins we offer ourselves to, other sins that increasingly dominate us.  Pornography.  Lying.  Selfishness.  Slander.  How easily we presume upon God’s grace and how lightly we regard our sin!  How much we need to hear and heed Paul’s warning of sin’s enslaving power that distances us from the enjoyment of God’s presence!

And how we must consider the “fruit” of sin and the “fruit” of righteousness.  “Sanctification” sounds stuffy.  Puritanical even.  But to be set apart to righteousness–to be set apart to God–is what God created us for and what he redeemed us for through Christ.  As a man and woman were made for each other in marriage, so we through Christ are made for God.

Finally, this convicts me.  I pray a dozen times a day for the Lord to heal me.  Just as often should I pray that in my illness I might seek to behave righteously.  For the fruit of righteousness is to be set apart to God.  And the outcome of it all is eternal life.

“Lord, don’t let me put the pedal to the medal.  Keep me driving in your ways!”






Why Irma, God?

I find myself asking, “Why, God?”, a lot these days.  Today it’s, “Why Irma, God?”  It should barrel into South Florida as a Category 5 or 4.  It will hit the Tampa Bay area late Saturday night into Sunday morning as maybe a Category 3 or 2 storm.

It’s by far the worst we’ve seen since moving here in 1989.  Since we lose power sometimes when it rains, the only question is how long it will be out.  Flooding isn’t a worry, but trees downed by storm winds are.  Our house and pool cage could take direct hits.  Then there’s all the beautiful vegetation Lois has planted and painstakingly nurtured.  She put her heart into it.  Not a life-loss, still a significant loss and a potentially huge mess to clean up.

It doesn’t help that I’m captive to a wheelchair.  My condition makes me virtually useless, and I hate it.  I guess it’s the old “man as protector” thing.

So, “Why Irma, God?”

To cite Paul, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains . . . “ (Romans 8:22).  But the day is coming when “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).  Paul implies that creation itself is impacted by our sin against our Creator.  And, though one day it will be set free, now it’s “groaning in labor pains.”  I take Irma, and Harvey before her, to be some of those “labor pains.”

Scenes of Harvey’s devastation evoked my empathy.  Warnings of Irma’s potential devastation evokes my fear.  It’s fear of the unknown.  I don’t know what to expect.  Don’t know the damage-extent.  Don’t know how long our power will be off and, how long we’ll be drinking warm water and eating out of cans and sweating without A/C.

Compared to flooded homes in Texas, it seems minor—but not insignificant.  Somehow making those comparisons never makes me feel better.

So, God’s children in Christ suffer creation’s labor pains like everybody else.  Irma isn’t jogging around Christians.  Our long-range hope is the day when “creation itself will be set free . . . and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”  But what’s our short-range hope?

Initially, before the Florida-track was inevitable, I asked the Lord to blow Irma out to sea.  Now I pray for “protection”.  That means no trees driven down onto our house or pool screen.  Minimal damage to our yard.  Limited time without power.  Safety for all our family and friends.

It suddenly occurs to me I should be praying for faith to trust the Lord.  For grace to act lovingly toward Lois in my stress.  For grace to accept my wheelchair without getting angry at God.  For grace to be an encouragement—and, yes, even a source of strength—to Lois.  (I’m not implying she’s cringing in a corner!)  For grace to look at the trees surrounding our house and trust that the Lord’s power to hold them up is greater than Irma’s to fell them.

Irma is a reminder that life in this fallen world can be, not only hard, but dangerous.  Labor pains are intense (right, moms?).  But mothers forget the pains at the joy of holding their little one.  So Irma will leave (the sooner the better), and we’ll thank God for his care.

Irma is a reminder, too, of how dependent we are on our Father.  Our sense of daily security is illusory.  In the end our houses, our jobs, our money, our physical strength—none of it makes us secure.  Only our Father.  So, when Irma barrels in, we’re (as always) in his hands.

And his Son’s hands are nail-scarred to make us forever (and even threatened by Irma’s winds) his.  That’s what I’m counting on.

The Nail




Resisting Naturalism’s Spell

In his comprehensive book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn  quotes a Barna survey:  “An overwhelming majority of Americans continue to believe that there is life after death and that heaven and hell exist” (p. 9).  But what people actually believe about heaven and hell varies widely.  And I would suggest that the majority view heaven and hell, and the spiritual realm in general, as less “real” than the natural.

Naturalism, I think, is the culprit.  Without using the word, we’re “naturalism” thinkers.  And naturalism insists we understand the world in scientific terms.   And science, even unintentionally, undercuts faith.  That’s because faith calls us to believe in what we can’t see, while science operates in the seen realm.  Consequently, “Scientists say . . . ” carries great authority and leaves the believer with his own private faith that “works” for him but carries no weight in the “real” world.

Randy Alcorn makes a compelling response . . .

“In The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis tells how Puddleglum, Jill and Eustace are captured in a sunless underground world by an evil witch who calls herself the queen of the underworld.  The witch claims that her prisoners’ memories of the overworld, Narnia, are but figments of their imagination.  She laughs condescendingly at that child’s game of ‘pretending’ that there’s a world above and a great ruler of that world.

When they speak of the sun that’s visible in the world above, she asks them what a sun is.  Groping for words, they compare it to a giant lamp.  She replies, ‘When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me.  You can only tell me it is like the lamp.  Your sun is a dream, and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp.’

When they speak of Aslan the lion, king of Narnia, she says they have seen cats and have merely projected those images into the make-believe notion of a giant cat. They begin to waver.

The queen, who hates Aslan and wishes to conquer Narnia, tries to deceive them into thinking that whatever they cannot perceive with their senses must be imaginary—which is the essence of naturalism.  The longer they are unable to see the world they remember, the more they lose sight of it.

She says to them, hypnotically, ‘There never was any world but mine,’ and they repeat after her, abandoning reason, parroting her deceptions.  Then she coos softly, ‘There is no Narnia, no overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan.’  This illustrates Satan’s power to mold our weak minds as we are trapped in a dark, fallen world.  We’re prone to deny the great realities of God and Heaven, which we can no longer see because of the Curse.

Finally, when it appears they’ve succumbed to the queen’s lies, Puddleglum breaks the spell and says to the enraged queen, ‘Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have.  Then all that I can say is that . . . the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.  Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world.  Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.  And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it.  We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right.  But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow.’

The truth is exactly the opposite of naturalism’s premise—in fact, the dark world’s lamps are copies of the sun, and its cats are copies of Aslan.  Heaven isn’t an extrapolation of earthly thinking; Earth is an extension of Heaven, made by the Creator King.  The realm Puddleglum and the children believe in, Narnia and its sun and its universe, is real, and the witch’s world—which she tempts them to believe is the only real world—is in fact a lesser realm, corrupted and in bondage.

When the queen’s lies are exposed, she metamorphoses into the serpent she really is, whereupon Rilian, the human king and Aslan’s appointed ruler of Narnia, slays her.  The despondent slaves who’ve lived in darkness are delivered.  Light floods in, and their home below becomes a joyous place again because they realize that there is indeed a bright world above and Aslan truly rules the universe.  They laugh and celebrate, turning cartwheels and popping firecrackers.

Sometimes we’re like Lewis’s characters.  We succumb to naturalistic assumptions that what we see is real and what we don’t see isn’t . . . But we must recognize our blindness.  The blind must take by faith that there are stars in the sky.  If they depend on their ability to see, they will conclude that there are no stars . . .

We’ll one day be delivered from the blindness that separates us from the real world. We’ll realize then the stupefying bewitchment we’ve lived under.”

* * *

I don’t want to get into a science vs. faith debate.  Suffice it to say that a true interpretation of Scripture and an accurate scientific discovery will coincide.  But my point here is that “science” can subconsciously make us doubt the spiritual realm.  Or it can leave us assuming we have to reject science if we’re to have faith in what we can’t see.

This problem arises especially for students.  At any grade, how should they harmonize their science-learning with their faith?  Or should they regard science and faith as forever separate realms, thus considering faith as anti-scientific and private?

C.S. Lewis creatively reminds us that instead of naturalism reigning supreme, naturalism (the only realm science can study) offers us only “copies” of what exists in the spiritual realm.  And when all is said and done, the trinitarian God, whom we can’t see but whom we follow by faith, will have the last word.  And his new creation will be immeasurably superior to anything naturalism provides.  Puddleglum’s right.



Product Details




Does Grace Make Sin a Non-Issue?

The change that occurred at our conversion makes it incongruous for us to keep living in sin.  That’s my summation of Paul’s proclamation in Romans 6:1-14.

In 6:2 he tells us we died to sin.  In 6:3 that we were baptized into Christ’s death.  In 6:4 that we were buried with Christ by baptism into death.  And in 6:4 he explains God’s purpose in our death to sin with Christ:  that we might walk in newness of life.

This change at our conversion (“baptism”) makes it incongruous (inappropriate, inconsistent, not in harmony with our new character) for us to keep practicing sin.

But how can Christ’s death 2000 years ago change our relationship to the power of sin now?  It’s a mystery that Paul explains (though it remains a mystery) . . .

 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (6:5).

“United” is the NSV’s translation of sumphotai, used of being closely associated with someone in a similar experience. For instance, two robbers were crucified together with Christ (Matthew 27:44).  They physically died with him.  We died with him spiritually to the power of sin we were under (“ . . . we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin”—3:9).

Furthermore,“if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” 

Why does Paul use the future tense?  Why not “we are united with him in a resurrection like his”?  Because we have to apply our union with him in his resurrection, as we’ll see later in Paul’s exhortations. For now, more explanations about our death to sin with Christ . . .

“We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin” (6:6).

“ . . . our old self” (literally, “our old man”) refers to our whole being connected to Adam (5:12-21)—the person we were apart from Christ.  Then we were “enslaved to [the power of] sin.” 

In his speech before he was martyred, Stephen told how God spoke in his covenant with Abraham and said, “Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years” (Acts 7:6; Genesis 15:13).  As Abraham’s descendants were enslaved to Pharaoh, so,  before Christ, we were slaves to sin.

But no longer.  Paul says not only that we died with Christ, but that “our old self was crucified.”  Just as the two robbers’ lives ended in crucifixion with Christ, so did our enslavement to sin’s power.

What does Paul mean by “ . . . the body of sin”?  Not the totality of sins added together, but our physical body through which temptation to sin comes and through which we commit sin.

But Paul writes that “ . . . our old self was crucified with him that the body of sin might be destroyed”.  The NRS translation, in my view, is unfortunate.   The Greek katargaysthay is translated “the rulers of this age . . . . are doomed to perish” in 1 Corinthians 2:16. But Paul also uses it of a married woman who ”is released from the law of marriage” if her husband dies (Romans 7:2).  The latter sense seems favorable here.  By our connection with Christ in his death our physical body is released from the controlling power of sin. We are no longer enslaved to it.

Paul states the obvious . . .

“For whoever has died is freed from sin” (6:7).

Sin has no power over a dead man!  While Paul is speaking of a mysterious spiritual death in union with Christ, not of a physical death, we mustn’t dismiss this as spiritual symbolism or arcane theological talk.  Paul is writing of reality.  Not only were we justified by faith, the old Adam-connected person we were died.  I don’t understand how.  I can’t explain how.  But there are spiritual realities we can explain naturally.  This is one.

“But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” (6:8-10).

Why does Paul say, “we believe that we will also live with [Christ}?  We face the same question as we did in verse 5.  I don’t want to get in the exegetical “weeds”, but I think both there and here Paul is glancing ahead to bodily resurrection with Christ at his coming.  And that full-body resurrection “reaches back” into the present, so that “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk (now) in newness of life (6:4).

So what should we do with all this theology?  Here’s Paul’s practical take-away—for the church at Rome and for us . . .

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11).

By “So” Paul means in the same way Christ died to sin and died to death by being raised “you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ.”

Armed with all this theological truth (6:1-10) we must make an objective evaluation of ourselves and think: “I am dead to the power of sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Say I’m a guy who wants to pay back someone who wrongs me.  I might do it by verbal abuse or silent withdrawal.  But something in me craves revenge.  Paul teaches me to think of myself as dead to that “something in me” (I don’t have to follow that craving, because I’m dead to its power with Christ).  And Paul teaches me to think of myself as “alive to God”.  That means I should think of myself as sensitive and responsive to God.

“Alive to God”. I picture myself intentionally hurt by my hostile neighbor.  I’m thinking I’ll just have nothing to do with him ever again.  But a presence is awakening me to the possibility of forgiving him, of praying for him and of doing something good for him.

“Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness” (6:12,13).

By “Therefore” Paul means for the reason that you are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, and you are thoughtfully considering yourself to be dead to sin and alive to God, act.

First, don’t let sin dominate you, to make you obey the passions of your mortal bodies.  Sin’s intention is domination.  But don’t let it.  In my illustration above, don’t withdraw in pay-back to your hostile neighbor.

Second, stop putting your head, hands and heart at sin’s disposal to be instruments (or weapons) of wrongdoing.  You can do this, because you’re dead to sin’s power.

Third, put your head, hands and heart at God’s disposal to be instruments (or weapons) of right-doing. You can do this, because “you have been brought from death to life”!  In other words, you once were “dead” to God and you were made “dead” to the power of sin.  But you’ve been made alive to God.  So present yourself to him to do what he says is right.

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (6:14).

This is the apostle’s promise to us:  sin will no longer dominate us.  Why?  “ . . . since you are not under law”.  We are not left to “Thou shalts” and “Thou shalt nots” as justified believers in Christ.  We now live “under grace” where we’re dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

* * *

Some of us are care-less about sin.  It’s just a non-issue in our busy lives.  Besides (we presume), God’s grace is always greater.  Others of us are triumphant over sin–even commanding it, “Be gone!”  But many of us (maybe most) struggle in the trenches with a besetting sin or even a whole array of what God calls “evil”.

To us, Paul’s words offer encouragement.  Not just that we have Holy Spirit power to withstand, but that by baptism in Christ’s name we really have been changed.  If a surgeon slices us open, he won’t find the evidence.  But, united with the crucified Christ, we really did die to sin’s power.  When it flaunts itself before us, we can thoughtfully consider that we’re corpses to its enticements.  Even more, we can thoughtfully consider that we really are alive to God.  In our innermost being, an awareness of him breathes and a right response to him fairly pulses inside.

Then we can simply refuse to give ourselves to sin.  We can refuse to let our head, our hands, our hearts–any part of us–become a weapon of wrongdoing.  And we can courageously give our head, hands, hearts–any part of us–to the living God within us, so that our “members” become weapons of sin-slaying righteousness.

The trio is singing a beautiful song.  But the alto is out of tune.  That’s us if we “continue in sin”.




Did Jesus “Come”?

By last evening, the weakness/numbness/ache (I don’t know how to describe it) had crept from my feet into my upper body and into my head.  I felt consumed by it, shriveling up.  I was suddenly afraid of what lay ahead.

This head-numbness has come before.  It’s made writing my blog impossible, because it saps my mental energy and leaves me in a strange “fog”.  But last evening was the worst.

I was alone in the house, because Lois had taken Scooby-Girl, our dog, for a needed walk.  I decided to lay down in bed, hoping that might alleviate my symptoms.

I prayed my feeble prayer  (“feeble” because it’s more desperation than faith):  “Jesus, take pity on me.  Have compassion on me and heal me.  Reverse the progress of this illness and restore what it’s taken.”  I placed first one hand, then the other, over my eyes and forehead, repeating my prayer and waiting in silence, in darkness.

Suddenly, it  felt as if Jesus was there.  It wasn’t a physical feeling—a spiritual sense, I’d call it. I saw nothing.  I had no vision of him.  But I imagined (though, I think, not intentionally) Jesus coming to me, telling me it was okay, that he was healing me.  Then, peace quieted me.

After about 15 minutes, I decided I had to act on what I believed just happened.  So I got up.  No numbness in my head; it felt fine.  It remained so for the rest of the evening and again this morning.

What should I make of this?

Did Jesus really “come” and heal my head?  That has been the worst part of my illness, because I’m not able to seriously read or creatively write when the numbness “hits”.  Did the Lord reverse the progress of this illness, at least in my head?  Is this the start of a total reversal?  Or was Jesus’ “coming” just my imagination, and I felt better because I had laid down?  My head is okay yet this morning, but often the numbness doesn’t reach it until later in the day.

One thing I know (like the healed blind man in John 9).  Before I laid down and prayed, my head was consumed by my illness.  And I was afraid.  When I got up, my head was fine and fear was gone.

Maybe Jesus healed my head just for last evening, because the condition was so bad.  If so, I’m thankful for that respite.  Of course,  I hope and pray for more: that Jesus might have started a reversal he’ll continue.  Maybe it will be total (wouldn’t that be amazing!), maybe partial.  Though I want all, I’ll take whatever healing he gives.

But suppose Jesus’ “coming” last evening was my imagination?  Suppose my head numbness returns?  Will I be disappointed, discouraged?  I’d like to say I’d be thankful for one better evening; but I won’t.  No way I wouldn’t be disappointed and discouraged.

But, for now, I’m going to keep hoping and keep praying.

P.S.  I hesitated writing this until I knew more.  But I figured if Jesus healed my head only for last night, he should receive glory for it.  And if it all was just my imagination, well, I’m willing to be called crazy for believing Jesus still does that sort of thing.


Where Have I Been?

Ten days since I posted a blog–until yesterday.  Where have I been?  (Please, don’t dent my ego by saying you didn’t notice!)   I’ve not felt well enough to write.

Maybe I shouldn’t explain.  Might sound like I’m looking for pity.  I’m really not.  I’m telling my story, because it’s on my mind.  But more, because my experience may help you sometime.

In the last ten days, my weakness/numbness, always below my waist, seemed on occasion to climb into my head—bad enough to make serious thinking impossible.  But something else blocked my writing.  Unconsciously, I think I shied away from God’s Word because he seemed silent to my pleas for help and some healing.

I was acting like our dog.  A few days ago, I was about to give her a treat, when I must have unknowingly pinched her leg or paw under my wheelchair.  Whatever happened, she yelped.  Ever since, she won’t come close to get a treat. I’ve been acting like her.   God is sovereign, therefore he either sent or at least allowed my illness.  So unconsciously, I’ve shied away from his Word.  If I had to reason it out, I’d say I had little interest in the One who caused me to suffer.

That I can’t see any good in this just exacerbated my disinterest.  God works for the good in all things?  This suffering produces perseverance which produces proven character which enlarges my capacity to hope for coming glory?  My weakness increases my reliance on the Lord?  I didn’t see any of that.  In my heart, none of it seemed true.  And when someone suggested that maybe I, in my finiteness, wasn’t able to see the good the infinite God saw, I waved it off.  Convenient rationalization!

If God was, in effect, taking my writing (and serious reading) away . . . well, I couldn’t handle that!  I’ll just go sulk in my corner.

It didn’t help that I was reading a book on spiritual gifts, in which one of four authors argued that miraculous gifts ceased with the apostles’ deaths. He pointed out that Jesus’ miracles were signs of his messiahship, signs of his kingdom breaking in.  Miracles for then, for that unique period of salvation-history, but not for now.  His words dampened my hope for a miracle.

Then I recalled two Scripture texts.  (Was it the Holy Spirit?)  The first was John 6:53-68. Jesus had just told the Jews they had to “eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood; otherwise they would have no life in them.  “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.  So, Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life . . . ‘” .

“Lord, to whom shall we go?”  A provocative question.  If I turn away from Jesus because the all-loving, all-powerful God allows so much suffering, to whom shall I go?  If suffering disproves the existence of an all-loving, all-powerful God, I have nowhere else to turn.  Either I keep faith in this God who’s run his wheelchair over my paw, or I have no one, nothing.

I recalled a second Scripture–about Jesus having compassion on the sick. I found it—Matthew 14:13,14 . . .

“When Jesus heard [that John had been beheaded], he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Matthew goes on to report how Jesus miraculously fed 5000.  The feeding was a sign, but healing the sick is described as an act of compassion.  So, I started whispering this prayer . . .

“Jesus, look on me with compassion.  Take pity on me and heal me.”

Do you see what was happening?  I dismissed the idea that my illness came so I’d learn to lean more on the Lord.  But that’s exactly what was happening!  Unconsciously I was shying away from him who allowed me hurt.  Consciously I realized I had no one else to turn to.  So, I went to him–without any plea but for his pity and power.  To him who held power to protect me–or heal me–but hadn’t.  To him who allowed my hurt.  To him who I unconsciously shied away from.  I turned to him–as if drawn by a silent power greater than mine.

How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33b).  Or as these worshippers sang it  , , ,

Now for the last two days, I’ve felt better.  Not great, but better.  And, more importantly, I’ve felt closer to him–or him closer to me.  It may become more difficult to write.  But I’ll keep on as long as he enables me.  And I’ll stop acting like our dog, because . . .

“if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (1 Timothy 2:13).

“If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31b-39).







Dead to Sin

                   “Not guilty!  You’re okay with me. My grace covers it all.”–God

Sounds like something out of The Cotton Patch Version of the New Testament ( ).  It does capture Paul’s concept, but maybe it’s too colloquial.  Here are Paul’s words—the source of my “quote” . . .

“Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:18-20).

It’s not about what we do; it’s who we’re connected to.  Connected to Adam, we’re condemned sinners.  Connected by grace through faith in Christ, we’re made right with God, whose grace is always greater than our sin.

A dangerous doctrine.  If we’re justified by faith apart from works, and if God’s grace is always greater than our sin . . .

“What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” (6:1,NRS).

Paul expects his Jewish Christian readers, especially, to raise that objection.  If my sin evokes God’s grace, and if the revelation of grace glorifies God, why shouldn’t I trespass God’s laws and sin?

Who would actually think like that?  Well, I might.  Maybe my attitude toward sin is too “soft”.  Maybe I presume God will be gracious no matter what.

Paul slams the door on that thinking—and for a startling reason . . .

“By no means!  How can we who died to sin go on living in it?” (l6:2, NRS).

We died to sin!  What can Paul possibly mean?  By sin he doesn’t mean acts of sin; he means the power of sin.  Something happened to us so that sin’s power no longer dominates us: we “died to [the power of] sin”. 

The NRS’ “go on living” translates one Greek word, zaysomen.  It means “to live” or “to be alive to”.  Paul’s question is rhetorical.  Since we “died to sin”, of course we can’t still be alive to it!  Sin has no power over a dead man!

Who, though, is “we”, and when did “we”  die to sin’s power?

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? ” (6:3, NRS).

“We” refers to “all of us who have been baptized in Christ Jesus” and “when” obviously is when we were baptized.  Commentators differ, though, on the meaning of “baptized into”.  Some argue Paul is referring to literal water baptism, others that Paul is using “baptized into” to refer to a spiritual union with Christ produced by the Holy Spirit. I think that the union is produced by the Holy Spirit, but at belief/baptism.  (I put them together because I understand the early church baptized a new believer immediately upon his faith.)

This baptism “into Christ Jesus” is a baptism “into his death”.  Paul goes on to say, “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death . . . ”  Mystery here, but one whose truth we mustn’t overlook.  In our faith/baptism we are baptized into Christ’s death and buried with him.

In 44 years of pastoral ministry, I don’t remember once carting off a newly-baptized believer to be buried!  I’m being goofy—just to make an obvious point.  Paul is referring to a spiritual experience, not a physical one.  But how to explain Paul’s language?  What happened to us?  In a mysterious way the Holy Spirit “connected” us to Christ in his death and burial to cause us to “die” and be “buried” to the power of sin.

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (6:4, NRS).

God’s purpose in our spiritual union with Christ in his death and burial—and now, Paul implies, with Christ in his resurrection—is that “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father . . . we too might walk in newness of life.”  That is, not under the power of sin, but in the resurrection power of God.

Therefore, justification by faith apart from works isn’t an excuse for sinning but a call to put into practice who we are in union with Christ!

This raises an important point.  The Christian faith isn’t all Bible and theological doctrines.  When I say that, I’m not demeaning the Scriptures; they are the written Word of God.  And without knowing correct theological doctrines we’re all “at sea” about what the truth is that we believe.  But both the Word and the doctrines are intended to lead us to God.  And that means experience.  In this case, the experience of a nature-change.  Once “alive” to the dominating power of sin, now through faith in Christ (proclaimed publicly through baptism) our nature becomes “dead and buried” to the dominating power of sin.

That raises a challenging question:  if true, why do we still struggle with sin?  Answer:  though this nature-change is real, we must apply it.  After discussing our nature-change in 6:5-10 (we’ll walk though that next time), Paul urges his Roman-church-readers . . .

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11) . . .

And again . . .

“Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness” (6:12,13).

So. because we are dead to sin’s power and alive to God in Christ, we have to think of ourselves that way.  And we must stop offering ourselves to sin’s power, but instead offer ourselves to God to do what he declares is right.  If sin still dominates us, it’s because we’re not thinking of ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God, and it’s because we’re offering ourselves to sin instead of to God.

A comment should be made about the purpose of our being made “dead to sin”–“so that . . . we too might walk in newness of life.”  This translation is to be preferred to the NIV’s, so that . . .  we too might live a new life”.
” . . . newness” is the Greek kainotays and refers not only to something recent and different, but extraordinary (Friberg Greek Lexicon).

Paul teaches that we have been connected to Christ, not only in his death, but in his resurrection:  “so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life”.   Implication:  we have experienced the Father’s resurrecting glory in our innermost being so we might live new.  Paul will write in more detail about that in coming paragraphs.

* * *

My take-away from this text . . .

I’m dressed in a hospital gown, lying on a table in the operating room  The surgeon cuts and scrapes, removes and inserts, then sews my sliced back together.  I feel nothing.  Not even aware to what he’s doing.  Because a power from outside myself (anesthesia) has “put me out”.  That’s how I should see myself regarding sin’s power.  It can’t dominate me, because I’ve been spiritually connected with Christ in his death, “put out” to sin’s power.

My image isn’t entirely accurate.  My ultimate death to sin won’t occur until  final bodily resurrection.  And I must stop presenting myself to sin as if it’s still my master.  But, first, I must “consider” myself dead to sin.  “So, Lord, help me keep seeing myself in that embarrassing gown, lying on that operating room table, ‘put out’ to the power of sin through my connection with Christ in his death.”








Radical Rerun

For almost two months I’ve commented on Romans 1-5.  Before launching into Romans 6-8, I need a rerun.  Just the high points.  To fix them in my mind.  Not only because Paul’s words are so profound, but because they paint a worldview sharply counter to our culture and, in some cases, even to our Christian culture.

This counter-culture theological worldview comes in the form of a letter written to a church in Rome.  We might rather expect a revelation of God to come mysteriously—maybe Paul alone in a cave when an audible voice speaks or a golden tablet appears.   But here it is in “ordinary” written correspondence, which, it is claimed, is Holy Spirit-inspired.  Mystery in everyday form!


Paul begins by boasting of the gospel ( “good news”) which is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”.  At the heart of the Christian faith we don’t find an encyclopedia of fine theological regulations to follow or even to simply believe.  At the heart of the faith is God’s power to save those who believe.  God’s power.  To save.  Those who believe.  Any who believes.


But why save?  Because God is revealing his wrath.  Humans have exchanged the Creator (known through his creation), and all his glory, for images of created things, including (maybe especially) of themselves.  Instead of blocking their desires, God gives them over to them—and to the consequences.  Perverted sex and gory violence are just two terrible examples.  This—God giving humans over to what they want instead of him—is God’s wrath revealed.

Even so, the day of God’s wrath is coming.  Everyone (even religious people, who refuse to admit their sin) is storing up wrath against themselves for that day.  No one is righteous.  No one truly seeks God.  It’s not just that humans sin; we are all under the power of sin.


But now, in God’s timing, we can be put right with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  Anyone can.  Sounds simple.  It is.  We can be put right with God by God’s grace as a gift.  Just accept the gift!  It’s free—but not to God.  God presented his Son as a sacrifice, and his Son willingly surrender to suffer God’s wrath (to absorb it someone said) so believers could be saved from it.  Free to us—just trust that it’s true—but infinitely costly to God.


Why by faith?  Because faith makes this salvation possible for anyone.  The least likely human—the biggest sinner, the most simple-minded, the most hypocritical religious “saint”—can be put right with God.  Why by faith?  Because there’s absolutely nothing we can do to get right with God.  All our attempts to dress ourselves up in our Sunday best for God is like dressing up in dirty rags.  Why by faith?  Because if we bring nothing to the table, then we get all the good as a gift and God gets all the glory as the giver.


When we trust God, regardless of how impossible this all seems, we become a descendant of Abraham—the old guy with a barren wife.  He became a father at age 100.  And God promised him and all his descendants would one day inherit the world.  What world?  A new one.  A paradise without all the “bad stuff” of this one.  And it will be ours.


Before that day, however, being put right with God brings believers a lot of good “stuff”.  Like peace with God—not more alienation or wrath from him.  Like grace every day no matter what.  Like rejoicing in suffering, because God uses suffering for good.  Like love from God poured out into believers’ hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Like reconciliation with God through the death of his Son.  Like rescue from the coming wrath.


It all comes down to the story of two men.  Adam is the first—and was the first.  When he ate God-forbidden fruit, sin entered the world, and death entered—the consequence of disbelieving and disobeying the Creator.  Everyone is Adam’s progeny.  And everyone by nature stands under sin’s power and repeats Adam’s sin.  Everyone exchanges God for something that, at the moment, looks better.

Jesus is the second man. God’s Son who offers the free gift of right-standing with God—and that leads to eternal life.  All humans are connected by birth with Adam and his sin.  All humans can be connected to Jesus Christ and God’s grace through him by trusting this good news of God’s power to save is really true.

* * *

Turns out what I’ve written isn’t a high-points summary of Romans 1-5.  More like sailing thoughts through my mind based on those chapters.  Though it’s not a scholarly overview,  I have two hopes from them.

One, that we realize how radical is this “gospel” we’re called to trust our lives to.  Over time, it becomes so familiar to us that it seems like “the same old thing”.  Radical?  Extreme?  No.  Maybe even kind of  common-place.  This is crazier than touching an angel-written golden tablet to be made holy!  How out of step with the culture this calls us to walk!  How far beyond our imagination is this revelation of God, this dark wrath of God, this amazing grace of God!  And how incomprehensible that the death of Christ on the cross could save believers from all their sins and all God’s wrath they deserve for all believers of all times and places!!

Two, I hope my thoughts prepare us for Romans 6-8.  Because if the first chapters seem “out there”, wait . . .








« Older posts

© 2017 The Old Preacher

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)