Monday, July 14, 2014


While Paul’s letter to the church at Rome was never intended to be given as a Systematic Theology, his orderly doctrinal exegete of the gospel continues to be a precious source of doctrine to shape the Christian’s worldview. Throughout the letter Paul refers to God’s character, His creation, and the orientation of mankind toward God. While his purpose is not certain, his careful exposition of theology bare striking significance to the importance of his evangelistic theme, the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the power of God unto salvation.
            Paul addresses essential issues within the time frame of history. The main aspect of this time frame is the nature of beginnings, namely Creation and the Fall, where Paul builds his argument for the universal guilt of mankind before God. Paul operates in a presuppositional understanding of God’s existence, and in Romans 1:20 he explains that God has clearly revealed his “invisible attributes” leaving mankind “without excuse” for failing to be thankful and glorifying Him.[1] In short we can conclude that it is evident that God is Creator. Additionally, God’s function as an administrator and sustainer is implied in the following passages, for to “give them up uncleanness” Paul suggests an active involvement of God in “consigning people to the consequences of their actions.”[2] Paul goes on to subject Jews and Greeks to the same fate, namely a failure to achieve righteousness, and thus deserving death by sinning and falling “short of the glory of God.”[3] Additionally, although the focus of Romans is certainly on the redemption of man, Paul also speaks toward the redemption of nature which has been for a time, subjected to “the bondage of corruption” in the present frame of the apocalyptic timeline.[4]
Paul affirms the historicity of Adam through a chiastic stanza in Romans 5:12 affirming the historical setting of the original sin and its continued dominion over every individual. Universal death is his proof for the universality of sin, a physical and spiritual consequence of disobeying the Creator of the universe, effectually making us “enemies” in the sight of a holy God.[5] In the context of Romans 5 we see that sin is an infectious reality which is the dominant unbroken nature of all mankind from Adam forward.[6] This truth is confirmed by Paul in that, even without a written moral code providing opportunity for transgressions, death nevertheless reigned from “Adam to Moses.”[7] Additionally, this sin nature was unbroken by the establishment of a moral code, for the Law of Moses was added so that “the offense might abound.”[8]
A significant juxtaposition is incorporated within Romans 5 as the “one Man’s righteous act,” namely the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, is set beside the “one man’s offense” and found to be far greater in worth, overcoming the power of sin for all men who will be saved, whether Jew or Gentile. This great saving act is heralded throughout the book of Romans. Likewise, in ascribing Jesus Christ as the object of the believer’s faith, who alone may expiate the wrath of God, Paul draws an undeniable inference regarding the impeccability of Jesus Christ as a sufficient sacrifice, the only available for mankind.[9] Additionally, God is not mocked and the faith that saves is a living active faith which bears fruit, such as existed in Paul’s archetype, Abraham.[10] Because of Jesus’ works, righteousness may be obtained through faith because through Him propitiation has been made to God and God’s righteousness is upheld, thus the object of faith.
So then through Jesus, who alone may expiate wrath and offer the forgiveness granted to sinners, condemnation may be removed and adoption as sons through the Spirit as joint heirs with Christ granted to those who have faith in Jesus Christ.[11] The work of Christ is applied by the Spirit of God as all who are in Christ live according to the Spirit, no longer obeying the lusts of the flesh.[12] Likewise, through the grace of God by the working of The Holy Spirit, believers have the privilege of being members of Christ’s body, having gifts of grace to serve one another in edification and love.
The purpose of God in this corporate body, the church, is the salvation and restoration of man from a sinful corrupt person, to a Christ-like man in glory.[13] Additionally, Paul speaks of an eschatological goal regarding the nation of Israel beyond the remnant that receives Christ throughout the majority of the church age. Moo is favorable of the opinion that “all Israel” refers to a future generation of Israel that will be saved according to God’s unfolding work. Likewise, while the creation is subjected to a curse, Paul taught consistently to the apocalyptic tradition of his time regarding the renewing of the earth in Romans 8:19-25.[14] Therefore we should keep this reality in mind when considering our stewardship on earth.
      In keeping with this stewardship, we must also consider that which is ethical in our behavior as Christians. Perhaps a summary statement of this ethical behavior can be found in two statements: “Do not be overcome by evil, but rather overcome evil with good,” and “love is the fulfillment of the commandments.”[15] Pragmatically, Paul commands to refrain from stealing, slandering, resisting authority, drunkenness, bearing false witness, refusing to pay taxes, coveting, committing adultery, and violating the conscience of a weaker brother for the sake of one’s own liberty. It is essential to remember, that these practical duties are only fulfilled through freedom from the law of commands via faith in Jesus Christ and submission to the Spirit of God.
Paul likewise expounds the nature of God, of which we ought to reflect on the world around us as Christians. God is righteous and just in His judgment, merciful toward sinners, and Sovereign in is dispensation of authority.[16] He is faithful in fulfilling his promises, and active in his works.[17] And, While God is a God of wrath toward rebellion and sin; He is equally a God of love manifesting his nature toward rebellious humanity in the person and work of Jesus Christ.[18] Thus, the Worldview established in Romans seems to beckon us to head the Psalmist’s words "be still [cease striving] and know that I am God."[19]

[1] Romans 1:20 NKJV
[2] Moo, 61.
[3] Romans 3:23
[4] Romans 8:20
[5] Romans 5:10
[6] Romans 7:5 “for when we were controlled by the sinful nature”
[7] Romans 5:14
[8] Romans 5:20
[9] Romans 8:4
[10] Romans 4:9-12
[11] Romans 3:24-25; 8:12-17
[12] Romans 8:1-4
[13] Romans 8:28, 30, 31;
[14] Moo, 266.
[15] Romans 12:21; 13:10
[16] Romans 3:25; Romans 5:8; Romans 13:1-3
[17] Romans 9:14
[18] Romans 1:18; Romans 5:8
[19] Psalm 46:10

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Victory

The Victory (Kurtis Wagner)

The victory cannot be won, except through Jesus, God the Son
So praise Jesus who set me free, and took my place by suffering
Jesus my life is in your hands, I trust in all of your commands
When troubles rise upon the sea, Your promises abound to me

     *Oh Jesus Lord of all creation, break the heart of sinful man
And let all tongues and tribes and nations, bow before the Father’s plan,
Repent believe, Jesus is Savior, Through his death an offering
to quench the Wrath toward our behavior, and this love is why we sing

God’s Words are breathed in lettering, that i may now how to please Him,
So let me wisely let it dwell, never forgetting I should tell,
of promises and joys I speak, to straighten sin and lift the weak,
and in the end may grace incite, a joyous song for Your delight.

     *Oh Jesus the Lord of all creation, break the heart of sinful man
And let all tongues and tribes and nations, bow before the Father’s plan,
Repent believe, Jesus is savior, He has died as offering
to quench the Wrath toward our behavior, and this love is why we sing

Sins and snares of this old world are apt to work in hearts grown cold,
So fix my eyes upon Your throne, you promised me our Father’s home.
The passing of vitality, brings into view deaths grip on me,
But faith will win the victory; You promised life eternally.

*Oh Jesus Lord of all creation, break the heart of sinful man
And let all tongues and tribes and nations, bow before the Father’s plan,
Repent believe, Jesus is savior, He has died as offering
to quench the wrath toward our behavior, and this love is why we sing

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sin and the Emperor's New Clothes

     What fancy clothes you have! Perhaps you recall the silly mind games employed in the classic tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. In a way we are not so much different at times than the emperor, who was so vain in his appearance that he was convinced by the admiration of the masses that he was wearing the most majestic wardrobe when in the reality of the narrative, he had naught a single sock to his name. Talk about comfy digs. Looking back at Genesis, we see a sobering reminder of our own need for a wardrobe, be it majestic or plain. The scene was set amidst a perfect backdrop, Eve visited by the Serpent, wavering on truth, and buying in to the most diabolical plan for mutiny against the Creator. Then Adam, the disjointed leader followed his helpmate against the express word of God into the state of existence we the people of the world know as the only cognitive reality, sin. The initial reaction to sin, a departure from the authority and perfect provision of God, was a realization of none other than nakedness followed by a vain attempt to cover up their apparent shame. Don’t miss this aspect of the narrative in Genesis 3:7, we cover our bodies in shame due to the nakedness we have realized by departing from God’s authority. This is a bold claim, but no apologies are given from the Bible. In fact, while God does come to Adam and Eve in great patience and graciousness, He does not justify them or ease their self-confidence or even commend their attempt to correct their wrong. Instead He pronounces punishment and then makes a covering for them from the skins of an animal, thus through the death of a sacrifice. 
     Think back to the Emperor. He was convinced by his yes-men subjects of wearing a beautiful wardrobe through the deceitfulness of thieves who caused him to believe a lie. Do you see the moral of this story? We are like the Emperor, sorry. We live in a world full of people who are willingly acknowledging that we have beautiful clothing covering our own nakedness, when the reality is that we have no means, not any, to cover our sin. Only a sacrifice from God could accomplish such a great purpose. That sacrifice is Jesus Christ. Think about this the next time you window shop for the finest shoes, or the fanciest shirt, or perhaps the next time you see someone with the oldest and most worn out shirt and shoes with holes. While the richest of the rich seem enamored by their ability to provide, it’s the poorest of the poor that often times see their need for an adequate covering. This is true for clothing, and it’s true for sin. No wonder Jesus proclaimed in the Beattitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Forget your fancy clothes, when you act in vanity you act as a fool. But don’t forget the reason you need clothed, not only physically but with the “robe of righteousness” that only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ can afford.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Celebrate Freedom At Whose Expense?

          Earlier today, I was struck with the irony of a custom in these United States as American as apple pie and baseball. Don't get me wrong the zeal of Patriotism is apt to course through my emotions as well, in fact the highlight of my day was seeing two bald eagles fly over our family's picnic grove as my uncle, father, brother and I made repairs to a large post and beam swing set. Yet on this July 4th, across the land over harbors, ballparks, and villages fireworks are flying high above, firing their reports above eager onlookers. No matter the generation the campaign rings aloud, celebrate freedom! While the motto finds many nuances of meaning among the masses, an indisputable facet of our freedom has come through our independence from tyranny and financial subjection through our Declaration of Independence from British rule. However, discern for a moment this certain custom, or may I suggest the distraction that has taken center stage on our Independence Day. While the morale of a nation is not to be underestimated, the wisdom and self-control of a self governed people is needed in an even greater measure. Consider the fact that this past year (2013), the United States imported $213 million dollars in fireworks from one country according to a report.  The supplier, China, is simultaneously reinvesting there profit from our generous consumerism by buying up U.S. debt now totaling 1.317 trillion dollars (Fox News). It was the late Ben Franklin who warned that “creditors have better memories than debtors,” and “rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.”  
          Wake up America and discern the times, we ought to celebrate all that there is about the freedom of this Great Experiment in which we live, but not toward the demise of freedom itself. Once a nation with apparent contentment to serve God and our neighbor, we now race toward the goals of consumerism and self absorption in unprecedented ways. What a paradoxical message we transmit to the nations beyond our boarder. Perhaps we should take a cue from our forefathers who were willing to forego their afternoon cup of tea and in the end the comforts of life or even life itself in order to cement their convictions in history. 
Proverbs 22:7 - The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Genesis 1:26-27 The image of God...

“What does Genesis 1:26-27 tell us about the 'image' of God in mankind?” 
Genesis 1:26-27 references the creation of man. The first notable distinction in this creative account is the shift from third person references to God’s creative command (“let there be”) to a personal self reference, “Let Us make.” (Gen 1:6, 26) This majestic plurality is echoed in Isaiah’s experience in Isaiah 6:8 when God asks, “who will go for Us?” God goes on to say, “man in Our own image, according to Our likeness.” (Gen 1:26) Man is later said to be created male and female, thus a plurality of oneness. God’s use of a majestic plural is not to be overlooked in positioning himself to the creation of mankind. John H. Sailhamer concludes that divine plurality is expressed as a reflection of God in mankind, as man and woman, of God’s own relationship with himself. (Gaebelein 1990, 38) Karl Barth calls this an obvious assertion. (Barth 1956, 195) Although the assertion may not be inconclusively wrought dogmatically, the majestic plural certainly opens insight to the Trinity of God.
Regarding the inclusive details of this “image” bestowed upon mankind at his creation, we may perhaps ask, in what aspects and to what decree was the divine nature reflected in human beings? In adherence to contextual surroundings, Genesis 1:28 supplies illuminating insight. Directly following God’s revelation of mankind’s image bearing privilege, we see that he is given dominion, a right given to the “image bearer” to have authority over the life which is to fill the earth, as well as a commission to subdue the earth, taking an active role with a degree of sovereignty, control and direction over nature. (Davis 1998, 81) We may draw assertions regarding the nature of the “image” by the roles wherein God positions man. Man possesses numerous inherent and exclusive abilities [among creation] such as spoken language (Gen 2:19, 20); natural and moral discernment (Gen 2:16, 19; 3:8); and self conscious intellect (Gen 1:20; 3:10). Yet, contextually the image is tied to the purpose and role of man within and over God’s creation. J. Richard Middleton thus describes the image of God as “the royal function or office of human beings as God's representatives and agents in the world, given authorized power to share in God's rule over the earth's resources and creatures.” (Middleton 1994, 12)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thoughts about the value of life before or after birth...

Here is a scenario:
I have in my hand two ten dollar bills. One has been minted by my niece. She is a very talented artist as you can see, and she has guaranteed the value of the bill in my hand for ten dollars. The other ten dollar bill is minted by the United States government, who guarantees its value.
                Which one would you rather have? Why?
                Which one is actually worth something?
                You may be surprised to know that the price of one piece of paper currency (or one bill) in 2005 was only around 5.7 cents in the United States. I am certain that my niece’s art supplies cost more to produce her ten dollar bill. Think of all the materials: markers, scissors, paper, and of course there is her time: no one wants to work for nothing you know.
                You see what really makes the $10 dollar bill in my hand worth anything to me, is the guarantee that this nation is able to back up its value. Everywhere I go in this country my $10 bill is worth ten dollars. It doesn’t matter if it is brand new and crisp or tattered and partially missing. Even the photo of Thomas Jefferson is a symbol to remind us of the prestige and the financial power represented by this former U.S. president.
                Now, let me ask you this. If a $10 dollar bill is only worth something because of whom it is supposed to represent. And the government that it makes it determines its value, how can we learn from this lesson what makes a person valuable? Who made us? Who is backing us up? Who do we represent? Now remember, I’m not ONLY talking about important people like the president, or the governor, or a popular actor or singer. I’m talking about any person, every person: old, young, popular, or shy… new and crisp or tattered and partially missing…Why are we valuable?

...The Bible explains that God created EVERYTHING in Genesis. In Genesis 1:26 the Bible talks about God making mankind and it gets really specific about what makes mankind different than ALL of the rest of creation! Genesis 1:26 says that God created mankind, male and female, in His own image! That means that we represent Him and we are valuable to Him! That $10 bill is valuable because it was printed by the United States, and we are SO MUCH MORE valuable than $10 because we are created in the image of God! This means that God not only made us in a way that we represent him, but also in a way that we can relate to him! We can speak, we can love, we can think, and we can know! Try having a meaningful conversation with your dog, and you will soon find out that you talk too much, or that people are simply totally different! People are simply different than the rest of the entire creation!

Take a step back and think with me for a second… The largest full moon you’ve ever seen is rising in a crystal clear sky; a centerpiece of splendor framed by millions of stars and galaxies painted across the heavens. David, a young shepherd who would by God’s choosing become King of Israel recognized this as he surely must have spent many evenings sleeping under the stars in the fields around Bethlehem. There were no city lights to drown out the vivid display of the night sky. David saw the handiwork of God and declared: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1 ESV) Yet, as beautiful and majestic as the universe on display before us, it is not made in God’s image. And David realized this fact too. He recognized very clearly that God made him with a specific purpose, and with a special value. In Psalm 139:13 David sings about God forming his “inward parts” and “knitting” him “together in” his “mother’s womb.” Then in verse 16 he goes so far to say that God had already established plan and purpose for the days of David’s life before He was born. These are amazing claims about the value of a person who was not even born yet!

Now another scenario:

Let's add some reason as we get down to “brass tacks.” Is a baby who is unborn really a person, with rights and privileges? Or is it only the mother who is carrying the baby who has rights? If you are on the fence; not ready to make a decision either way, let’s consider an illustration used by Ray Comfort in his documentary the 180 video. Suppose there was an abandoned building set to be imploded with dynamite, and you being the owner of the soon to be vacant lot are the honored guest. The contractor walks over to you and hands you the detonator button, but before you are able to press the button he begins to speak. He tells you that his team was unable to make a final sweep of the building before the big show, and unfortunately there may be a person left inside the building. He tells you not to worry though, because legally you have the right to press the button.  Nobody who values the life of a human being would be willing to take such a big risk, even if they weren’t sure that a person was really still inside. Why would anyone who wasn’t sure if an unborn baby was really a human with rights EVER take the chance of supporting or having an abortion? It just isn’t right!