Archives For Romans

Bound Together by Chris Brauns

John Piper explains that people in our culture face a particular challenge in understanding the Gospel. It is an aspect of truth that we resist. But if we would only embrace this truth, we would find great comfort.

If you insist that what each person does is strictly his or her own business, then you cannot understand biblical Christianity. The idea that one person can represent many others, what I call the principle of the rope, is basic to Christianity and the doctrine of salvation.

The ultimate negative example of the principle of the rope is the doctrine of original sin. Scripture teaches that because of Adam’s rebellion, his guilt was imputed to all his descendents. All are born in sin and with a corrupt sinful nature.

On the other hand, for those who put their faith in Christ, his righteousness is imputed to them. Believers are roped or united to Christ such that they are represented by Him.

In response to this teaching in Romans 5:12-21, John Piper preached:

Someone might say, “But what if you come to a people group that has no categories or thought forms for understanding this sort of thing – a corporate connection between humanity and its ancestors, or the possibility of our sinning in the sin of another, or our being counted righteous with the righteousness of another? You know what? We are that people group. We don’t have any categories for that in modern America. Many third world peoples would have far less difficulty with this text than we do.

 Piper is correct. We are the people group who does thinks so much in terms of radical individualism that we do not have a category necessary for understanding basic Christian doctrines.

Try this experiment. Take a random sample of non-church people, or maybe even those who profess faith for that matter, and ask them. “Do you think it is fair that when Adam sinned, his guilt was imputed to all his descendents? Was it fair that because of Adam’s sin, all are born with a corrupt nature?”

Or you might step back from biblical examples. Ask people if they think it is acceptable that children suffer in a land where there is an evil dictator?

The point is that people in our culture really resent the idea that one can represent many. And yet, this is how life works.

In the same sermon quoted above, Piper went on to encourage:

But you say, “I don’t understand this. I don’t think this way. I don’t have any categories in my brain for holding this.” Please do this: embrace it as you see it; and tell God that you receive his way of salvation in Christ; and ask him with faith that he give you the fuller understanding that you need. God loves to save humble sinners. You don’t have to understand it all to benefit from it all.

The reason that I wrote Bound Together was that I wanted to give people an opportunity to lean into the truth that we are not isolated individuals – – – that we are bound together. It was my goal to show that far from this being bad news, or news that is unfair, this is foundational to the greatest news ever proclaimed.

To think about this topic more, take the Bound Together Quiz which introduces the subject of Bound Together.

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See also Piper’s sermon, Adam, Christ, and Justification, Part 2. In it, Piper explains that the great comfort we find in the teaching of corporate solidarity in Romans 5:

That is the all-important parallel. The deepest reason why death reigns over all is not because of our individual sins, but because of Adam’s sin imputed to us. So the deepest reason eternal life reigns is not because of our individual deeds of righteousness, but because of Christ’s righteousness imputed to us by grace through faith.

O how much light this sheds on why Paul embarked on this paragraph at all! He did it for the sake of our faith and our assurance and our joy. He did it to underline the fact that our right standing with God and our freedom from condemnation is not based on our righteous acts but on Christ’s righteous acts.

This is the foundation of the great Biblical truth of justification by grace alone through faith alone. It has rescued thousands of saints from the despair of legalism and the paralyzing fear of imperfection. Christ became obedient even unto death so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Here is rest for your soul. Here is a message that everyone you will ever meet needs to hear. Christ is our righteousness. Trust him. Trust him. Trust him.

 

Romans 8:17 reminds us that we are co-heirs with Christ, “provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

No one enjoys the thought of suffering, but Christian suffering is a fundamentally different kind.

Let me make an analogy between the physical and the spiritual.

Would you not agree that there is a fundamental difference between pain in the cancer ward and agony in the delivery room? One is suffering that brings life; the other is that of death.

As a pastor, I have watched many people struggle with cancer. It is such an awful disease. I think of one friend who went through so much – – lost her hair during chemotherapy — – had her body ravaged by the disease – and then she slowly died. Her hospital room was a place of pain.

The delivery room is also full of pain. If I ever complain about discomfort, my wife who has delivered four babies is happy to remind me that I am not acquainted with real pain. Never the less, the agony of labor is of a different kind than cancer suffering. Labor is pain based on a beautiful hope.

Everyone in this life will suffer. And, if Christ does not come back in our life time, we will all die. But, for a believer, the sufferings of life are those of the delivery room. Romans 8 says that our sufferings are “birth pains” that will one day give way to the sons of God being revealed.

If you are believer with cancer, then you have all the hope of eternity. Remember, our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Soon and very soon, Jesus will come back and we will be eternally with Him.

Tim Challies’ post is a great follow-up to a recent sermon at The Red Brick Church on Romans 8:13.

Challies:

Don’t run away from this blog post just because I’m quoting a Puritan. Yes, Puritans are scary with all their big words and frilly collars, but some of them had remarkable insights into God’s Word and into human hearts. Read on to see an example of that. I am confident that it will be a blessing to you.

Here is the context: Once a month our church has what we call Adult Fellowship. This is a time where we gather as adults and look at a particular topic, working toward application. Over the course of this year we’ll be looking at sanctified sins—sins that we commit but tend to give a pass to. We allow them to be respectable sins. As we do this, I’m offering a brief overview of John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation. What I am trying to do is take one chapter per month and distill it to its essence, while still allowing Owen to speak in his own words.

I’ve now summarized the first two chapters and, in doing so, have been reminded of just how powerful Owen’s book is. Let me share with you the essence of the first chapter which is titled “The Foundation of Mortification.” Mortification, of course, refers simply to killing or destroying or putting to death. When we mortify a sin, we put it to death by the power of the Holy Spirit. As this is only an opening chapter, it touches just briefly on subjects that will be dealt with in more detail a little bit later on.

Owen bases this chapter on Romans 8:13: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death [mortify] the deeds of the body, you will live.” He shows that this verse describes a condition, a means, a duty and a promise.

Read more here.

This Fall, I am preaching from Romans 8. If you don’t understand why the Gospel is such good news, we would invite you to visit the Red Brick Church!

D. Martyn LLoyd-Jones:

If we tell Christians that their past sins, their present and their future sins have already been put away by God, are we not more or less telling them that they are free to go out and sin? If you react in that way to my statements I am most happy, for I am obviously a good and true interpreter of the Apostle Paul. It was because he preached such things that people said, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? (chapter 6:1). That is the very charge they were bringing against him, and if we do not preach and represent the gospel in a way that sounds dangerous at first, we are not preaching it truly. The true preaching of the gospel is always liable to be misunderstood by people in that way. The Apostle has already given the answer in chapters 6 and 7, proving that there is no risk at all, but the opposite.”  D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans 7.1-8.4, Banner of Truth, pages 273-273.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

We can put it in the form of an illustration. The difference between an unbeliever sinning and a Christian sinning is the difference between a man transgressing one of the laws of England or any other State, and a member of a family doing something that is displeasing to another member of the family. In the one case a man commits an offence against the State; in the other a husband, say, has done something that he should not do in his relationship with his wife. He is not breaking a law, he is wounding the heart of his wife. That is the difference. It is no longer a legal matter, it is a matter of personal relationship now, and that, a relationship of love. The man does not cease to be the husband of the woman, nor the woman to be the wife of the husband. Law does not come into the matter at all; it lies outside that realm. In a sense it is now something much worse than a legal condemnation. I would rather offend against a law of the land objectively outside me, then hurt someone I love. Romans 7:1-8:4, Banner of Truth, page 278.

Be Stoked to Hear Romans 8 Preached

Chris —  September 9, 2011

Doug Moo summarizes why we should be stoked to hear Romans 8 preached:

Romans 8 has been called the “inner sanctuary” within the cathedral of Christian faith.” It sets before us some of the most wonderful blessings we enjoy as believers: being free from God’s condemnation, indwelt by God’s own Spirit, adopted into his family, destined for resurrection and glory, and full of hope because of God’s love for us and because of his promise to bring good to us in every circumstance of life.

Good News for 9/11/11

Chris —  September 4, 2011

A week from the date of this post, is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Most of us remember where we were when we heard the horrific news.

But as we remember bad news on 9/11, this Fall at our church we will begin a series from Romans 8: a chapter that is a wonderful summary of the best news ever proclaimed. Is there someone you ought to tell so they can hear it?

Read Romans 8 for yourself. Why wouldn’t we share such incredible news? After all, everyone likes to “bear glad tidings.”

  • Young couples smile when they tell their parents that a grandchild is on the way.
  • No one waits to send a text message that reads, “We won,”
  • Or to say, “the test for cancer came back negative.”
  • Wouldn’t you like to be the person who let someone know that his or her mortgage had been paid off?

With Romans 8, we have good news that is infinitely and eternally better than any of those examples and we can be stoked to share it.

If you are going through a tough time in life, or if you have questions about how all things can work together for good, or you know someone who is, then invite them to be our guest for this exciting new series and find answers to your deepest questions.

The Romans 8 series will begin on September 11, 2011 when we go back to two services at 9 and 10:30.  Remember this is the chapter that begins with the truth that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ and concludes with the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. In between, Paul encourages that all things work together for God for those who belong to Jesus.

So here’s what you do:

  1. Determine that you and your family are going to be here.
  2. Identify several individuals or families you know that may not have a church home.
  3. Pray that God would open their hearts to hearing the Good News.
  4. Call and say, “Would you be my guest for a new sermon series at The Red Brick Church this Fall?” We could go out to breakfast before?  Or, we could have lunch afterwards?

Remember that song many of us learned to sing when we were children, “This Little Light of Mine”? It wasn’t just a nursery rhyme. It was based on Jesus challenge in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14-16) that Christians are the light of the world and that under no circumstances should we pull the plug on our lights. Rather, we should wave the glory of Christ about as conspicuously as possible as we invite people to come hear the greatest news ever heard.

Would you characterize your local church involvement as being “patient in well doing as you seek the glory and honor of Christ”?  Or, are you more impatient?

I am preparing to preach from Romans 7. In reading Romans, I was so struck by Romans 2:6-7:

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

This is such a challenge for me personally.  At times, I find myself feeling very impatient with pastoral ministry. Yet, Paul summarily reminds us that patience should characterize God’s people.

How are you doing?

Let’s don’t become weary in doing good.  At the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.  Galatians 6:9-10.

I am adding Romans 2:6-7 to my list of verses to memorize.

Cornelius Plantinga:

Moses emerges with God’s Ten Commandments, a set of requirements that people have to fulfill not in order to get rescued by God from slavery, but because they have been rescued.

Stated succinctly, the imperative of the Christian life (be godly) follows the indicative (we have been freed from sin).

Saved from God

Chris —  May 2, 2011

R.C. Sproul:

. . . I said, “Do you want to know what you are saved from? In a word, you are saved from God.” They just gasped and to this day when I attend that convention people come up to me and say, “I had never thought of that until I heard your message.” It is God who saves people from God because his wrath is stored up against the day of wrath, and he most certainly will demonstrate, as he has demonstrated his love toward us “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Commentary on Romans, 161, emphasis added).

Sproule references Romans 5:8 in making his point, but John 3:36 also comes to mind:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36).