October 31, 2016

Commonplace Monday #58

"There is a simple cure for people who doubt God's love and question God's grace: to turn to the Bible and examine the kind of people God loves."
Phillip Yancey


Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 


October 29, 2016

1 Peter 1:6-9

This is the outline to a lesson I taught a while back. Numbers of these thoughts are not very well developed, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.

1 Peter 1:6-9
LBC ABF, 10/9/2016
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Where is your Joy? (v6a)

Where is your joy? That is, what makes you happy? I’m not asking what do you think should make you happy (we’ll get there), but just try and think about the word joy or  the word happiness, and what comes to mind? A person, a place, event? Perhaps a particular memory that always takes you back to the “good old days.” We find joy in a lot of things, don’t we? When our football team wins, when it’s a good day for funny quotes on pinterest, when dinner turns out the way we hoped it would, when the sun shines (or when it rains…), when we view a mountain sunset, when someone significant in our life tells us that they are proud of us, when our kids learn to walk or to pray.

Most of the things we find joy in are good things. Indeed, many of them have been given to us by God that we might enjoy them. Our God is the Father of lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). So we don’t want to minimize these things, these joys. Nor do we even want to draw a dichotomy between the joy that these bring and the joy that we will discuss momentarily. While there are differences in surety, in strength, of these joys, as well as differences in their foundational causes, they are not altogether different things. People who are not brought joy by the things in life that bring joy, don’t enjoy God. “For apart from him, who can eat or have enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:25)

But this world isn’t a very good place to rest our hopes and joys, is it? Because for all of the goodness of the gifts which God gives to us, these things are all transient, slipping through our fingers, passing away. “Vanity of vanities”, says the Preacher, “all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). So when Peter says, “in this you rejoice”, to what does he refer? Well, he is looking back to the things he said in verses 3-5, that we have a living hope, an eternal inheritance, and a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I liked the way Edmund Clowney put it in his commentary, “As those who are given birth by God, we also receive our inheritance from him. That inheritance is kept for us, and we are kept for it...Indeed, our final inheritance is not merely kept by God; it actually is the Lord himself.”

So where ought our hope to rest, in a final sense? In the salvation that God has given us, that He is working in us, and that He is preparing for us. Ultimately, our hope and our joy flow from and are aimed toward, God Himself. This is important. Really important.

What is your life? (v6b)


What is He doing? (v7)


What is the point? (v8-9)

October 28, 2016

Who are you voting for?

Here is a link to Brigade, a tool that allows you to pledge your vote for different candidates and share those pledges via social media.

October 27, 2016

Can You Vote for Evan McMullin?

The following is most of an email I sent to a friend. We had talked recently about my support for Evan McMullin in his run for President (check out evanmcmullin.com) and had a couple questions about how I process his positions on abortion and Same-Sex marriage. Here's what I said:


______,

good questions.

Here is what his website says on Life:
"Our respect for life is the most important measure of our humanity. From conception to death - and any time in between - life is precious and we have a responsibility to protect it. A culture that subsidizes abortion on demand runs counter to the fundamental American belief in the potential of every person - it undermines the dignity of mother and child alike. Americans can and should work together to increase support and resources to reduce unintended pregnancies and encourage adoption, even if they may have different opinions on abortion rights."

There are a few things of note here. The first is what seems clear is a respect for life. "Our respect for life...From conception to death..." That is important, because on the Democratic side Hillary supports full fledged, no holds barred, abortion on demand. Gary Johnson holds a fairly similar stance. Donald Trump, though, isn't better. He has no real position on the issue, which is why it boggles my mind when people call him pro-life (see this piece).

However, the position laid out, while obviously better than the other candidates, isn't where I would obviously want it to be, i.e., defining abortion as murder and applying strict penalties to abortion providers. But there is a note of pragmatism in his position that I do appreciate. Part of why anti-abortion things haven't gone our way as much as we would like is due, in part, (and in my opinion) to the fact that we have an all-or-nothing approach. My opinion is all or nothing, I don't believe a cogent argument can be made for abortion under any circumstances, but I also think pro-lifers have to start working with people who have different opinions on abortion itself and put less emphasis on laws (though the laws remain important, and frankly I think the fact that murder is illegal should make abortion de facto illegal) and more on crisis centers and adoption. Obviously over the years people, mainly Christians, have done this, and I think the results have been fantastic. It simply needs to expand, and if possible this should become the face of Pro-Life, rather than angry activists. All of that to say, I wish his position were stronger, but it's better than where any current candidate (with the exception, I think, of Darryl Castle) stands, and it is a position that can be worked with. Of course it could also simply be sly policy talk, which would be typical of Republicans. But he seems to be a pretty committed Mormon, so I'm guessing he legit does disapprove of killing babies.


On the topic of SSM, I pulled this from an article in the Santa Monica Observer,
'McMullin has stated that although he believes in "traditional marriage between a man and a woman", he "respects" the United States Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and thinks it is "time to move on" from the issue of same-sex marriage. He also stated that he would not make appointments to the Supreme Court with the intent of overturning Obergefell.'

And this from his website on the topic of Religious Liberty:
"Religious liberty is freedom of conscience, inherently connected to actions and expression; it’s the grace to let others pursue their convictions and the willingness to welcome a marketplace of diverse ideas. This freedom is central to the American experiment, and it should be protected, not disparaged. At a time when global religious persecution is at record highs, America must prioritize the defense of this core human right in our diplomatic efforts. Our moral authority to defend religious freedom abroad relies on the vitality of religious freedom here at home. Our government should not target religious groups for discrimination or marginalization based on the obligations of their faith, but instead recognize that religious diversity and robust pluralism are foundational sources of strength for our nation."

I actually agree largely with his position here. I don't think pushing for the overturn of Obergefell is going to get anywhere, even if the court's decision ere overturned, Americans now largely accept and endorse SSM, so it wouldn't do anything except put states back in a position to decide for themselves. And they would simply, then, pass laws in alignment with the Obergefell decision. [I do think that would be good, on a Constitutional basis, but as far as the marriage effect, I think it's pointless.] Christians, mainly Evangelicals and Roman Catholics, lost the cultural battle, and badly. I think the path forward for the church is to actually rebuild our own understanding of marriage, which is incredibly weak and anemic, which is why the world found it so uncompelling. Most Christians function with the same concept of marriage as simply a contract or agreement made by two people who love each other to live together and share certain physical, financial, and perhaps emotional parts of their lives. And why should those outside of heterosexuality be denied that?

Without Christians understanding and practicing a type marriage that functions as a compelling picture of Christ and the Church, we can't expect our own children to see marriage aright, let alone a wider culture, including it's judges and lawmakers.

So basically, he's where I am at politically. I don't think same sex marriage is even a spiritual reality the way one man and one woman is, but I also don't think that is a political battle worth fighting until some major things change in our culture. I think that most likely things will have to get a lot worse, we will have to see all of the negative effects of our sexual insanity, before the culture writ large begins to seriously consider whether what they're chasing makes sense.

So to sum it up: on abortion I wish he were better, but I can deal with him because he is better than the others. On SSM, I basically agree with him.

And overall, I'm essentially pessimistic on the future of America, and optimistic for the church. Anyhow. I'll be done now.

Will

October 24, 2016

Commonplace Monday #57

"It's harder to discover our desire for God when things go well."
Larry Crabb



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

October 22, 2016

1 Peter 1:3-5

This is the outline to a lesson I taught a while back. Numbers of these thoughts are not very well developed, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.


1 Peter 1:3-5
LBC ABF, 10/1/2016
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Introduction:

So, if you were here and/or remember last week, you will likely recall that we made it all the way through the first two verses of 1 Peter; along with dealing with some of the background issues. But in those first two verses, Peter jumps right into high theology. He gives his readers an explanation of who they truly are: God’s elect exiles, known by him from before the world, set apart and made holy by the Holy Spirit, and obedient to and sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. That is to say, in calling his readers God’s elect exiles, he is saying that there home is not this world, but rather, their true home is with the Trinitarian God who loved them, made them, and saved them.

Peter will continue in a similar vein today.

The Point:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! (3a)
Peter begins this paragraph by exhorting his audience to bless God. I think that this is the main point of what we will discuss the next two weeks. Peter is saying Bless the Lord!, and he spend the next six and a half verses laying out reasons why this is exactly what we ought to be doing. See Psalm 103:1-2

Identity:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
This is something of a side note similar to what we did last week, but I think it is important enough to bring to the forefront, because it has been so absolutely front-burner in my mind the last couple of months. If we are going to bless God, worship God, adore God, we must know who He is. How can we know God? We cannot know God truly apart from His self-revelation. Theologian Michael Horton, in his book Pilgrim Theology, says the following, “God makes himself known on his own terms, when, where, and how he chooses. God can be an object of our knowledge only if he has revealed himself to us. Consequently, theology can exist as a legitimate enterprise only when it begins with God's self-revelation.

We find from the beginning of Scripture, or creation itself, that God is a speaking God, and thus a revealing God. Though He is transcendent over all creation, He mercifully condescends to speak to, to draw near to, His creatures. Why? That we might know Him. What is the chief example of this? Hebrews 1:1-3a, John 1:1, 14, 18

The Son, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the eternal Word of God, came to make the Father known, to reveal to us His glory. And it is only by Him, through Him, that we may know and bless the Father (John 14:6). Commenting on our passage here in 1 Peter, John Calvin say the following,

“Understand the words thus, -- "Blessed be God who is the Father of Jesus Christ." For, as formerly, by calling himself the God of Abraham, he designed to mark the difference between him and all fictitious gods; so after he has manifested himself in his own Son, his will is, not to be known otherwise than in him [that is, His son]. Hence they who form their ideas of God in his naked majesty apart from Christ, have an idol instead of the true God, as the case is with the Jews and the Turks. Whosoever, then, seeks really to know the only true God, must regard him as the Father of Christ; for, whenever our mind seeks God, except Christ be thought of, it will wander and be confused, until it be wholly lost. Peter meant at the same time to intimate how God is so bountiful and kind towards us; for, except Christ stood as the middle person, his goodness could never be really known by us.”

We bless the Lord, first of all, for revealing Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. Any concept of God which diminishes Christ or which tries to have an unmediated notion of the Father, one apart from the knowledge of Christ, blasphemes. We bless the Lord because we see Him as He has revealed Himself to us.

His Benefits.

A quick note on how I broke this down: The next verse and a half are all one run-on sentence, so I don’t think we actually have 7 completely separate points here, but I seperated them out this way so that we could hopefully see how these things build within the sentence and understand the different parts, so that at the end we wouldn’t miss all of the enormous truth packed into this tiny space.

A.
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again
We discussed this some last week, so we won’t delay long here, but again we see the sovereign goodness of God in salvation. According to His great mercy He has caused us to be born again. There was nothing in us that would compel God to love us, and there was no outside force which constrained him to act a certain way toward us. It is His great mercy, His sovereign love, that is the root cause of our salvation. Have you been born again? It is not because of your genius or goodness, it is because of the mercy of God.

B.
to a living hope
What have we been born again to? A living hope, Peter says. Our hope is not like the hope of pagans where it is wishful thinking, or “hoping against hope.” Our hope lives. I think Peter uses this phrase as at least a close parallel if not a straight up synonym with the words he uses later in the sentence, inheritance, and salvation. He’s talking about the same thing all the way through, but in explaining he uses diverse words to connect with us. Repetition is one of the keys to effective communication, but sometimes when you are seeking to convey a particular idea or thought rather than merely accomplish rote memory, you use multiple words to describe the same thing, or to detail different aspects of the same object, which allows you to be repetitive without it feeling redundant.

C.
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Why is our hope living? Because it is tied to a person who lives, namely, Jesus Christ.
D.
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
E.
kept in heaven
F.
you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith
God uses means. We are guarded by God’s power through faith. We are not inactive in our perseverance. Without faith it is impossible to please God, and as we discussed last week, obedience to Christ in faith is what we have been called to. But while we are active in our perseverance, we are not effective. We are called to faith, we exercise faith, but as we are guarded through our faith what is seen as the reason for its effectiveness? The power of God. This calls our minds to places such as Philippians 2:12-13.

G.
for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Conclusion:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because He is merciful, He has planned and effected our salvation, He currently guards and keeps us, and wi one day bring us to His side, where He has stored up pleasures forevermore.

October 17, 2016

Why I'm Leaving the Republican Party


What follows is the letter I wrote a couple of days ago to the chairmen of the Republican Party Central Committee in my county, on which I served until, well...when I sent this letter.

Co-chairs ___ and ____,

I write what follows most regretfully, and not without much thought and prayer. I am resigning my place on the Central Committee and plan to change my voter registration from Republican to Independent. 

I determined many months ago that I would not, and in good conscience could not, vote for Donald Trump for President. I was content to keep that opinion largely personal unless asked for it, and hoped to see Trump mature, while surrounding himself with quality individuals as others in the party simultaneously worked to move the party writ large in a more conservative and constitutional direction. 

What has happened has been precisely the opposite. Trump has continued to show himself for exactly who he has always been: a bombastic, small minded, morally repugnant, deeply corrupt, endlessly narcissistic con-man. His policies are, in many cases, far ​more
​ progressive and liberal than those of Hillary Clinton, and his character is about what one expects from a reality TV star. This is no great surprise. However, what has surprised and saddened me is the widespread continued support for his candidacy from Republican leaders and politicians, and, more disturbingly, from the average Republican voter. 

I have always known myself to be something of an outlier in Republican circles. I don’t think Big Business is always right, I think cutting spending is more important than cutting taxes, and I don’t like Neo-Con interventionist strategies. But where I once thought I found myself solidly allied with the party, namely, matters of Religious Liberty, the Sanctity of Human Life, and the necessity of moral character from our leaders, are areas which I find myself on the outside looking in at a party who, ​by virtue of its nominating action,
​ apparently values none of these things. Party platforms are meaningless when we nominate candidates who are diametrically opposed to the words in such platforms.

How can it be the the party, the people, who so rightly held Bill Clinton’s feet to the fire simple turn a blind eye, or shrug off, or excuse ​the same type of actions
​ from its own nominee? The only answer can be that politics have replaced principle as the rule of the day.

I understand fully the threat a Hillary Clinton presidency poses to the future of this nation we all hold dear. If folks want to roll the dice and hope that Trump will be better, that is between them, God, and the ballot box. I can’t judge an individual for trying to make the best of a bad situation. But for the party as a whole to continue supporting any candidate so abhorrent as Donald J. Trump, tells me that I can no longer in good conscience participate. 

I continue to hold the members of the committee in the highest regard, and am grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know some of you, and to learn a great deal. 

Best regards,

Charles W. Dole

Commonplace Monday #56

"I think the art of life consists of tackling each immediate evil as well as we can."
CS Lewis




Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

October 15, 2016

1 Peter 1:1-2

This is the outline to a lesson I taught a while back. Numbers of these thoughts are not very well developed, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to take advantage of the comment section below.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you.


Preface:

A Trinitarian Greeting. I think it is important to note here, before we dive into the nitty gritty of looking at 1 Peter, that the actions of God in salvation are laid out in Trinitarian terms. Why is this important? Because the doctrine of the Trinity, our understanding of God's Threeness and Oneness, is the most distinctive doctrine of orthodox Christianity. It is not the mono-personal understanding of other monotheistic religions, such as Islam or Judaism, but it is also not polytheistic in the way that Buddhism or Hinduism or Mormonism are. To believe, as Wayne Grudem summarizes it, that

1) God is Three Persons,
2) Each of these Three Persons is fully God, and
3) There is One God

is a distinctly Christian way of understanding the universe and to conceive of God. It underpins our salvation, it makes sense of a world in which both unity and diversity exist, and it makes possible the eternal reality of love, in ways that no other understanding of God can do justice to.

So while Peter does not give a full discourse on the doctrine, I do believe it important to note from the outset that Peter operates with a Trinitarian concept of God that is implicit in the way he greets these believers. 

Introduction:

Who is writing? The Apostle Peter, one of our Lord's closest associates during His earthly ministry. Peter is one of the 12 who Jesus named Apostles and promised to build His church upon. Within the 12, he is one of the three closest to Christ, along with James and John. These three are given privileges the other disciples are not, seeing Jairus's daughter raised, seeing Jesus transfiguration, etc. But even among these three, Peter stands out. He is the most vocal of the apostles, is the first mentioned in each of the four lists of the 12, and seems to vacillate between heavenly insight and human blindness, Godly boldness and mortal cowardice. He is, perhaps, the most relatable disciple.

More pertinent to our look at this book, Peter is also one of the key figures in the early church, the preacher at Pentecost, a leader in the church in Rome near the end of his life, and a prolific evangelist. And, as we see here, a letter writer.

To whom is he writing? Peter identifies his audience as those living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These were all Roman provinces in what we now call Turkey. His audience is likely a mixture of Jewish and Gentile believers, in churches scattered across this region. The ordering of the provinces leads us to believe that perhaps Silvanus, who carried the letter, may have followed a trade loop which went through these areas in this order. But that is speculation, an not of much importance in our understanding of the letter's content.

What is the background?

Point 1:

How does Peter address these believers? What does he mean by elect exiles? See Hebrews 11

Point 2:

Elect exiles according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. What is meant by foreknowledge? See verse 20. Is it a simple knowledge of the future or is something deeper implied? Amos 3:1-2, Romans 8:29-30, Genesis 4:1

God has known us from before the foundation of the world. He has loved us deeply since we were.

Point 3:

Elect exiles in the sanctification of the Spirit. Is this a current event or a past one? Commentators differ. See 2 Thessalonians 2:13

I think it makes more sense to take this as referring to a past setting us apart. That is, I think this sanctification is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that precedes and enables faith. I take it partly this way because I think our next clause only makes sense as referring to a past event, and so it makes sense to take this one the same way. Also, to understand it this way would be to understand Peter as laying out our salvation in how it has already been accomplished for us, and how we are then to live, hope, and suffer, in light of this reality. Essentially his greeting is to preface and prepare them for the body of the letter.

Point 4:

Elect exiles for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. What is meant by obedience? I believe, chiefly, our faith. See Romans 1:5, 16:25, John 3:16, 18, 36. The first and primary act of obedience required of us is obedience to the Gospel itself. Jesus come on the seen in Mark 1:15 saying, “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” All other obedience flows from this obedience.

What about sprinkling with his blood? Again, some commentators try to make this a continual thing, like in the OT when the people had to be made ceremonially clean by repeated sprinklings of blood. Basically they see this as what happens when we sin, come and ask for forgiveness and are received back into intimate fellowship with the Father. But I just don’t think that holds water. Let’s look at Hebrews 9, a rather extended portion, verses 11-28.

The OT system is a copy, Christ’s sacrifice is the real deal. We don’t need continual sprinkling with His blood, we have been sprinkled with His blood. Period. Full stop.

Point 5:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Or, be yours in abundance. If we rightly understand our salvation, is this not the natural result? What could cause us to be filled with more peace, what truth could grace our hearts and cause us to be gracious more than this understanding of our pursuing God acting sovereignly on our behalf?

October 10, 2016

Commonplace Monday #55

"Whereas disinfecting Christians involves isolating them and teaching them to be good, discipling Christians involves propelling Christians into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others."
David Platt




Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

October 06, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Nature of Christianity, take two.

The Nature of Christianity
(I originally preached this as a sermon in 2012, and posted the notes here on 06/23/12. This is a reworking of those original notes, hopefully a little more readable.)

Our topic is Christianity. That may seem a broad or obvious topic. But for us to understand properly how Christians are to live, we must first understand what the nature of Christianity is. The reason this is foundational is that what you really believe defines who you really are. You will always, always, act in accordance with what you truly believe. So if we miss the boat on the meaning of Christianity and believe something apart from the truth, we are in big trouble. And frankly, I believe much of what we might call current evangelical teaching has, if not missed the boat entirely, hung its legs out into the shark infested waters. This being said, I want to give you three negative statements right out of the gate in relation to the nature of Christianity.

1) Christianity is not about works.
2) Christianity is not about comfort.
3) Christianity is not about you.

These are three things that we will reference back to. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, I want to note what specifically I'm addressing in those three statements:

1) Christianity’s foundation
2) Christianity’s feel
3) Christianity’s goal

Our three part study here will be by no means exhaustive, but I do believe it will give us a solid foundation from which to look at our churches and our lives.

Something of an aside here: While it is to many a dirty word, I do believe Religion is an absolutely fitting term with which to describe Christianity. When we attempt to say that our relationship with God is without any form of religion we in essence divorce ourselves (perhaps unwittingly) from 2,000 years of church history. This seems unwise at best, and at worst, downright arrogant. We must keep in view the fact that we are not the only Christians to have ever lived, and the things passed down to us through extra-biblical teaching and tradition are quite rightly called religion. There is nothing wrong with this. The error comes when we move from worshiping God to worshiping the religion itself (Romans 1).

End note. Let us next turn to the Scriptures themselves. Turn to the book of Romans chapter one. We will read verses 1-7

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 1:1-7 ESV)

The first thing I noticed when I read this is something I would also like you to see. Who is the author of this letter? Verse one says Paul. What part of his letter are we reading? The introduction. If you are familiar at all with Pauline literature you may notice that this introduction is different than his others. Let’s look for example at his letter to the Philippians, where he gives a rather “normal” introduction.

  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.    (Philippians 1:1-2 ESV)

Now what difference do you notice? The first thing that strikes me is the length. In Philippians he simply says who he is, who he’s with, and sends a greeting of grace and peace to those whom he is writing. Romans' intro is much longer. This should cause us to take notice. To perk up our ears and listen, as it were. You might say that Paul starts preaching from verse one. So, the question then becomes, why? Well, obviously if he departs from his normal routine in writing it is something he finds to be of pressing importance. Which would then make us wonder, what is it that is so important? And that is what we want to look at.

We will first look at our first point-Christianity’s foundation.
*The Gospel
Romans 1:1-4
1 Corinthians 15
Genesis 1
Genesis 3
History of Israel
Romans 3:9-12; 23-24
Ephesians 2:1-5

You cannot earn salvation, it is a gift! Christianity is not about works, it is about Jesus! His work and person are our ultimate foundation.

Point two-Christianity’s essence is the obedience of faith.
Romans 4
Hebrews 11:6
James 2:14-17
Romans 12:1,2
1 Peter 2:21-24
Romans 6

What sort of faith is this? John 3; Matthew 10;

Not a comfortable faith. That is not what God has called us to. Christianity is not about comfort, it is about believing and following Jesus, in any circumstances. Romans 8:28-39


Point three-Christianity’s ultimate meaning is the glory of God.
That’s what Paul means by saying that the Gospel that saves us is for the obedience of faith, which is for the sake of His name among all the nations. This can be a tough pill for us to swallow. But it is thoroughly Biblical. Ephesians 1:3-14
Isaiah 43:6b-7, 25

This is foundational to our comfort and joy.
Psalm 23:3


1-Do you believe it?
2-Do you live like it?
3-Do you count Him more valuable than all? Matthew 13:44





October 03, 2016

Commonplace Monday #54

"We waste our lives when we do not pray and think and dream and plan and work toward magnifying God in all spheres of life."
John Piper



Commonplace Monday is a series of posts wherein, on Monday mornings, I share short quips, sentences -perhaps as much as a paragraph- which I have collected in my various commonplace books and files. If I wrote down or recall where it came from I will certainly give attribution. However, sometimes I write down things and not where they came from. So if you see anything like that here and recognize it, that's what comment sections are for. 

About Me

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com