Category Archives: Romans

Butterflies, Your Bodies, and Spiritual Gifts

  • What do butterflies have to do with your bodies?
  • Why does Paul call you to be a living sacrifice?
  • What are your spiritual gifts, and how can you recognize them?

Rm1202The 101 Bible Study explores these and other questions as we study Romans 12. The study meets this Friday, 6:30 p.m., in a home near Astoria. Call 971/238-6101 for more details. You are invited. Questions are welcome!

“The basis and spring of sanctification are union with Christ, more especially union with him in the virtue of his death and the power of his resurrection.” (John Murray, The Epistle to the Ro­mans, Vol. 2, page 109).

“The way to determine our spiri­tual gifts is not to ask, ‘What is my “thing” spiritually, my spiritual specialty, that sets me apart from other believers and gives me a distinguishing niche in the church?’….The question to ask is, ‘What in the situation in which God has place me are the particular op­portunities I see for serving oth­er believers in word and deed (cf. I Peter 4:10f.)?’ ‘What are the specific needs confronting me that need to be ministered to?’ Posing and effectively re­sponding to this question will go a long way not only toward discovering but also actually using our spiritual gifts.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Perspec­tives on Pentecost, p. 53).


To God Be the Glory Forever!

flower_7511c“But this is the great mystery: that God is rich in mercy; that he gathers his elect from every nation, also that of the Jews who rejected him; that he im­prisoned all in unbelief that he might be merciful to all. That mystery sends the apostle into ecstasy and causes him to marvel at and adore the depth of God’s wisdom and knowl­edge ([Romans] 11:33-36).” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, p. 670).

“It is a mistake, however, to think that God’s incompre­hensibility applies only to his secret, unrevealed counsel . . . . [T]he most sig­nificant aspect of incomprehensibili­ty is that it applies to what God has revealed.” “God is debtor to none, his favour is never compensation, merit places no constraints upon his mercy.” (John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, Vol. 2, pages 104, 107).

The 101 Bible Study is looking at Romans 11:25-36 on Dec. 1 in Astoria. Call 971/238-6101 for more information.


A Remnant and Grafting

Rm1123“If grace is conditioned in any way by human performance or by the will of man impelling to action, then grace ceases to be grace.”

“[T]here is no security in the bond of the gospel apart from perseverance. There is no such thing as continuance in the favor of God in spite of apostasy; God’s saving embrace and endurance are correlative.”

(John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, Vol. 2, pages 70 & 88).

Friday evening’s 101 Bible Study in Astoria focuses on the first half of Romans 11.

No Condemnation!


“In late medieval Roman Catholicism, the future verdict at the final judgment was the uncertain outcome of the Christian life. In contrast the Reformers came to understand that, in effect, the verdict belonging at the end of history has been brought forward and already pronounced on believers in history, and so constitutes the certain and stable basis for the Christian life and provides unshakable confidence in the face of the final judgment.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., By Faith, Not by Sight, p. 92).

“…when the Father sent the Son it was for the purpose of dealing with sin. Nothing should be allowed to detract from that simple but profound truth. For by it we are advised that the coming of the Son of God into the world had no relevance apart from the fact of sin.” (John Murray, Epistle to the Romans, Vol. 1, p. 280).

This Friday evening’s 101 Bible Study in Astoria focuses on Romans 8:1-4. You are welcome to join us! Call or text 971/238-6101 for details.



rom8“The Lord Jesus Christ became in himself the sacrifice for your sins. In other words, he was the sacrifice of sacrifices, the sacrifice toward which all the others pointed, the original sacrifice, next to which all other sacrifices were mere imitations.” (William F. Snodgrass, “He Offered Up Himself” in Resurrection and Eschatology: Theology in Service of the Church, p. 567).

Related to a message to be delivered this Sunday evening at a joint service (Grace United Reformed Church and Trinity Presbyterian Church, OPC), focusing on Lord’s Day 5 of the Heidelberg Catechism. The sermon text is Romans 8:1-4.

Super-Abounding Grace!

As the New England Primer indicated (reflecting Paul’s teaching in Romans 5), the sin of the one man, Adam, brought death into the world. The sin of the one man, Adam, is placed on our account. We are all guilty and we are all sinners. The law of God serves like a projector, showing us our sin. But in Romans 5:16-17 the pattern of  sin-condemnation-death is balanced by the pattern of righteousness-justification-life.

file Ayear11e copySin increased, but God grace has increased even more. Paul adds a prefix (from which we get our term hyper–as in hyper-drive) to the verb increase. God’s grace is super increasing, or super-abounding. The act of righteousness of the God-man, Jesus Christ, declares us just, and gives us life. Parallel to Adam, but in contrast to him, the righteousness of Christ is placed on your account as you trust in him. Continue reading

In Adam’s Fall

primerThe opening rhyme of the New England Primer‘s alphabet might well be considered objectionable today. Not only was memorization expected of students, but the rhyme refers to sin and guilt, almost unmentionable concepts in our day. Although the focus of Romans 5:12-21 is very positive (Paul talks about super-abounding grace), there is also some grim news about sin. One man (Paul is referring to Adam) sinned, and in him all of us sinned.

Even in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, the connection between Adam and his descendants is emphasized:

“’You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve’ said Aslan. ‘And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth. Be content.’” (C. S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, pp. 211-212).

Lewis reflects important Biblical points. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God, an image in which we share. That elevates the poorest beggar to a position of dignity and honor. But the sin of our first parents affects all of us as well, to our shame. Continue reading