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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace
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By His Grace and For His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study of the Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life Revised and Expanded 20th Anniversary Edition
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Only One Way?: Reaffirming the Exclusive Truth Claims of Christianity
Richard D. Phillips (Editor), David F. Wells, Peter R. Jones, Philip Graham Ryken, J. Ligon Duncan, D. A. Carson


Method for Prayer: Freedom in the Face of God
by Matthew Henry


Calvin's Teaching on Job:Proclaiming the Incomprehensible God
Derek Thomas

February 28, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification

Here is a question from a visitor out of our mailbag with my response following....

Hey John, I have read a lot of your website and I appreciate the tremendous effort you have put into something that you feel very strongly about. I have carefully examined Calvinism for several years now, and find it to be thoroughly unbiblical. I find Calvinist exegesis to be very strained and artificial. I have only found more of the same at your website. I do, however, want to make sure that I properly understand any Calvinist doctrine before criticizing it. So my question has to do with regeneration, justification, and sanctification. If these terms are defined in the way that theologians usually define them, then I think Calvinism has a serious difficulty to overcome. I have not seen any articles posted on your website that address this issue. So what am I talking about?

What is regeneration? It seems to me that regeneration in the Calvinists scheme refers to being freed from sin so that one can respond to the gospel message. It is the work of irresistible grace. It is being born again (given spiritual life). Calvinists also believe that we are justified by faith, but that regeneration precedes faith and justification. What I do not understand is how one can be given spiritual life, be “born again”, and not yet be justified. Are we then saved before we are justified? If we are already given new life (which is what regeneration means), then why the further need for faith or anything else? If Christ’s atoning satisfaction for our sins is not placed on our account until we are justified through faith, then how can one be regenerated before they are forgiven? How can one be given new life while they are still under the wrath of God? If sin is the cause of our spiritual death, how can we be freed from sins deadly influence before we have been forgiven?

What about sanctification? Is regeneration the beginning of God’s sanctifying work (most Calvinist authors that I have read would say it is), then again, how can one begin to be sanctified (made holy) before they are forgiven? I have yet to read a Calvinist deal with this problem. Perhaps you can help me understand.

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Hi __________

Thanks for your email. That is a fair question It appears you are thinking of these things in terms of a temporal order, while the Scripture does not really warrant such thinking. You must remember, regeneration (the new birth) is also a redemptive benefit of our union with Jesus Christ. All spiritual blessings have Jesus Christ as their fountain.

Continue reading "Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification" »

February 28, 2007  |  Comments (19)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Chosen For Life: A Case for Divine Election

Book Review: Chosen For Life: A Case for Divine Election By Sam Storms
Reviewed by: David A. Thommen

Sam Storms has done the Christian community and incredible service with this publication of Chosen for Life: A Case for Divine Election. This is a revised and expanded version of an earlier publication he did in 1987. I will use Sam Storms own words here to give a brief summation of what he hopes this volume will accomplish. “I hope this book will go a long way in dispelling such unkind and terribly misleading caricatures of what people really believe” (p. 21).

He has accomplished his task with great clarity, precision, fairness, and charity that should accompany theological discussions between fellow Christians. I say this because much of what passes for “theological discussion” is simply a batting back and forth of caricatures of theological convictions. Not so in Storms book. He, being a Calvinist and one who holds to the Reformed view of predestination, when dealing with opposing positions pictures them fairly, accurately, and avoids straw man arguments.

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February 27, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Monergism.com Launches Version 2.0

After months of grueling preparation, numerous technical set-backs and a host of other behind-the-scenes debacles and delays (mostly due the enormous amount of data that had to be moved), we are thrilled to finally unveil the new Monergism 2.0. It would be impossible for us to adequately express our excitement, anticipation and gratitude at launching what we hope will be a major evolution in functionality, ease of use, organization and overall look for the site. We hope that once you have experienced it, you will feel the same. To get a quick break-down of the site's new layout, check-out the site tour page.

Read More...

February 26, 2007  |  Comments (11)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 9: The Resurrection of Lazarus)

I.Lazarus Dies (John 11:1-16)

Throughout the gospel of John, Jesus' sign-miracles have been growing ever more extraordinary, and his related teachings have become ever more explicit. Finally, in this last sign, we see the climax of Jesus' sign-revelation, and the last miracle that John would record before Christ's own death on the cross. Previously, we have seen everything necessary for life – eternal life – and we have seen it in Christ alone. He alone can give the water which springs up into everlasting life. He alone can give the true bread – his own body – which sustains eternal life. He alone can give the light which is the life of men – that is, he alone can produce the faith which leads to forgiveness and life in fellowship with the Father. And now, finally and climactically, we see him giving life itself; and so teaching that he alone is “the resurrection and the life” (vs. 25). But just as Jesus' signs and teachings increase, so does the opposition of the Pharisees. And so we find that, at the end of the chapter, they are earnestly seeking to find where he is living, so that they can arrest him and put him to death.

Continue reading "Studies in John (Lesson 9: The Resurrection of Lazarus)" »

February 26, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Shopping for the Right Church

As a general rule, the results of American capitalism have been good when one is at the grocery store. A dozen brands and a dozen varieties of every conceivable item compete for one's attention, and promise dependable quality at a reasonable price. And if any of these items fails to deliver the expected quality, one might cast it aside without a second thought, and turn to any number of more satisfactory products. This is not at all a bad arrangement when one is shopping for groceries; but the stark truth is that, in America (and, to a large degree, in the rest of the world), people have developed a consumer's mindset which extends far beyond the supermarket. In fact, even in the process of pursuing opportunities to be involved with the body of Christ in its local expression, many consumer-minded Christians approach the task much as they would look for the best milk and eggs: they shop around, and when they find a church which meets their expectations, or at least when they have discovered which one comes closest, they summarily forget whatever other churches are in the area, and devote themselves to that one exclusively.

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February 25, 2007  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Choice Quotes on Regeneration

"Regeneration is the fountain; sanctification is the river."
- J. Sidlow Baxter

"Faith does not proceed from ourselves, but is the fruit of spiritual regeneration."
- John Calvin

"When God designs to forgive us he changes our hearts and turns us to obedience by His Spirit."
- John Calvin

"Regeneration is a spiritual change; conversion is a spiritual motion."
- Stephen Charnock

"Regeneration is the communication of the divine nature to men by the operation of the Holy Spirit through the Word.

- A.J. Gordon

Continue reading "Choice Quotes on Regeneration" »

February 22, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 8: The Healing of the Man Born Blind)

I.The Golden Lampstand

We have already noted that, when one entered the tabernacle, he would immediately see the table of the bread of the presence on his right. If he turned and looked to his left, he would see the golden candlestick, which would have been the only source of light in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-37). This imagery, as well as that of the table, is perfectly fulfilled in Christ. In our last lesson, as he was teaching at the Feast of Tabernacles, he made the monumental claim, “I am the light of the world”; and in this lesson, he will illustrate that claim in the next of his sign-miracles – the healing of the man born blind. But before we look at this miracle, let's think about the significance of the golden candlestick, particularly the way in which John applies it to Jesus.

Continue reading "Studies in John (Lesson 8: The Healing of the Man Born Blind)" »

February 20, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Images of the Savior (11 -- His Sermon on the Mount)

Matthew 5:1-3 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When God redeemed Israel from Egypt, he was accomplishing in shadow-form what he had determined to do in Christ, who redeems his people from their sin. Hence, just as God called Israel, his Son, from Egypt (Hosea 11:1), just as he baptized him unto Moses in the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:2), and just as he proved him forty years in the wilderness; so he called Christ, his true Son, from Egypt (Matthew 2:15), who was likewise baptized at the commencement of his public ministry as the Son of God, and who successfully passed forty days of testing in the wilderness – all in true fulfillment of Israel’s typical history. This character of Christ’s time on earth, as the substance to which redemptive history pointed, is most instructive when we consider the timing and the nature of his justly famous Sermon on the Mount. For if we consider the first giving of the law on Mount Sinai, which came through the hand of Moses, the typical mediator between God and his people; then we must be struck with the parallels between that and this second giving of the law on the mountain where sat Christ, the only true Mediator between God and man, and the only absolute and final Law-giver. To this sermon as the giving of the fulfilled Law, we must now turn our attention.

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February 16, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Book Review: The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach From Old Testament Narrative Texts

By Dale Ralph Davis
Reviewed by: David A. Thommen

At first blush you may be mislead into thinking that The Word Became Fresh to be a new and inventive approach to preaching Old Testament narrative. It is not. As Davis laments in the Preface to the book after teaching a class on preaching he concluded that he never wanted to teach preaching. The focus of this book is a step removed from the preaching of Old Testament narrative. It is a focus on preparing to preach these fabulous texts. With that being said, I want to heartily recommend this book as simply a breath of fresh air (no pun intended).

For those who are committed to the expository preaching of the whole of Scripture, which includes the Old Testament, this book will not enlighten you to anything you did not know or did not learn in a good Homiletics class, but it does provide good reminders and jogs to our memory important points to consider when one approaches Old Testament narrative.

Two of the most helpful and thought provoking chapters are chapter 3 and chapter 5, entitled “Theology” and “Nasties” respectively. The “Theology” chapter serves as a helpful reminder for those who preach these passages faithfully. Dale Davis writes, “I’m using the term here to refer to the theology of a biblical text, that is, what the text means to say about God, his ways and his works” (p. 31). How many of us have heard a dozen ways to conquer our giants from 1st Samuel 17? Davis is helpful here in reminding us to keep focused on the intended meaning of a biblical text.

Continue reading "Book Review: The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach From Old Testament Narrative Texts" »

February 15, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Watch Sproul on The Holiness of God

R C Sproul's recent outstanding 3 message series on the Holiness of God, from the 2007 Desiring God Conference for Pastors (preached just last week), are now available to watch online at http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/

February 15, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Monergism.com To Launch Major Upgrade

Important News from Monergism.com

Hear ye, hear ye.... Glad tidings! If the Lord wills, Monergism.com will finally be launching its long anticipated major upgrade sometime next week (the week starting Feb 18th), corresponding to the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). It is pretty certain that we will receive some hate mail from those of you who have become comfortable with the old site, but when you experience the ease of finding what you are looking for, it is likely that your complaints will be quickly silenced. :)

New Features will include:

Redesign of the look and feel of the site. Color theme similar.

Highly Scalable

RSS and Email Subscriptions

Dynamic databased driven directory of theology

Search on Every page (smooth as silk)...

The capacity for "Moderators", of whom we can assign a password and category. In other words, Monergism.com will no longer be limited to the work of one person but is slated to be a collaborative effort among Christ-centered, Reformed-minded folk. Categories can be assigned to experts or Aficionado on the various topics.

While the focus of the content will remain the same, Lord willing, we will continue to add new features, articles and categories to the site. The goal is continue to be a vertical Christ-centered portal for the historic Christian faith.

Monergism.com

February 14, 2007  |  Comments (12)   |  Permalink

Mormonism v. Christianity - a quote from Dr. James White

Mormonism, in its historical self-definition, is the "one true Church on earth." It, and it alone, possesses authority from God in the priesthood. It is the singular restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ after the church ceased to exist on earth shortly after the death of the last apostles. Its founder, Joseph Smith Jr., taught an extreme form of polytheism (LDS prefer the term "plurality of gods") wherein the distinction between God and man is abolished: God and man are of the same "species," and the difference between them is one of degree (exaltation) not one of being. God himself is an exalted man who lived on another planet, and today lives upon a planet that circles a star named Kolob. There were gods before him, there will be many gods after him. In fact, for many Mormons, the number of gods is infinite. God, in Mormonism, cannot create anything, he can only organize pre-existing matter. Jesus Christ has not eternally existed as God in Mormonism, which is hardly surprising in light of the fact that the Father (Elohim) likewise has not existed as God from eternity. Jesus is the first begotten spirit child of Elohim and one of his many heavenly wives (the current LDS hymnal makes reference to our "heavenly mother"). Despite the embarrassment of many LDS scholars, the consistent teaching of the LDS hierarchy over the years has been that God the Father, who possesses a body of flesh and bone (but no blood) sired, fathered, Jesus Christ naturally through a physical relationship with Mary. This is, in fact, why Jesus had the ability to take back his life, for he had, in Mormon theology, an immortal father. Jesus Christ, rather than being the eternal Creator whose all-sufficient death on Calvary redeems God's people perfectly, is but one god amongst many gods, one of our species, who began the work of "atonement" in Gethsemane, and only finished this upon Calvary. Mormonism has no meaningful doctrine of sin, atonement, holiness, justification, and, being a polytheistic religion, has never been able to produce a scholarly commentary on such books as Romans. It subjugates the Bible to Smith's "revelations," some of which, like the Book of Abraham, are so far removed from serious consideration as divine revelation that it is testimony to the power of deception that so many intelligent LDS continue to believe in them.

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February 14, 2007  |  Comments (5)   |  Permalink

1599 Geneva Bible - 2nd Printing Update

http://www.monergismbooks.com/assets/geneva1599b.jpg

UPDATE: Due to an overwhelming response, hardback and genuine leather Geneva Bibles were temporarily sold-out from all vendors. We are happy to announce that the second printing is complete and Bibles are currently en-route to us. We project we can begin shipping them from here on Monday February 19th.

When the Pilgrims arrived in the New World in 1620, they brought along supplies, a consuming passion to advance the Kingdom of Christ, and the Word of God. Clearly, their most precious cargo was the Bible—specifically, the 1599 Geneva Bible.

All but forgotten in our day, this version of the Bible was the most widely read and influential English Bible of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A superb translation, it was the product of the best Protestant scholars of the day and became the Bible of choice for many of the greatest writers and thinkers of that time. Men such as William Shakespeare, John Bunyan, and John Milton used the Geneva Bible in their writings. William Bradford also cited the Geneva Bible in his famous book Of Plymouth Plantation.

The Geneva Bible is unique among all other Bibles. It was the first Bible to use chapters and numbered verses and became the most popular version of its time because of the extensive marginal notes. These notes, written by Reformation leaders such as John Calvin, John Knox, Miles Coverdale, William Whittingham, Anthony Gilby, and others, were included to explain and interpret the scriptures for the common people.

Read More about this forgotten translation here

Pre-Order at at Monergism Books - Shipping February 19th

February 13, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Studies in John (Lesson 7: The Feast of Tabernacles)

I. The Feast of Tabernacles

It is by no means a mere coincidence that the events of this week’s lesson, and Christ’s subsequent teachings, took place during the Feast of Tabernacles. For, as we have already noted with respect to the tabernacle furniture, so we will find that Christ likewise fulfilled all the symbolism of the great religious feasts of the Jews. But before we can understand how Jesus was the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles, we need to go back and read about why and how it began.

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February 12, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

How Do I Know I am Saved?

If you claim Christ is your king and you His subject, how is it that He came to occupy the highest place of your affections, that throne atop your heart?

Prior to your redemption, the flesh and Satan quietly possessed your greatest affections, and like the rest, you were Satan's slave, his vassal. And since he thus reigned over your heart (and was much stronger than you) how did this transformation to Christ take place? There is no doubt that Satan would have never willingly relinquished his reign of power over you. And you, being under the bondage of your own corrupt nature and Satan's dominion over you, would not have been willing to simply renounce, nor able to resist the Devil's binding power, since he had taken you captive to do his will (2 Tim 2:26). For the flesh, the world and the Devil were enemies too powerful for you – they were greater and had vast superiority over your base affections. You were their plaything and that, most willingly. You could not untangle yourself nor did you want to, for you loved darkness (John 3:19 ) and most willingly suppressed the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18 ). Mere exterior persuasion did not scratch the surface of your heart.

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February 12, 2007  |  Comments (15)   |  Permalink

Who is the Fool?

"A man that extols himself is a fool and an idiot"
- John Calvin

"If you build upon yourself your edifice will be a mere ruin."
- Augustine

"If you think that your best is good enough for God, you have too high an opinion of yourself and too low and opinion of God."
-John Blanchard

"If we are proud of our talents we betray our lack of gratitude to God."
- John Calvin

"that which is begun in self-confidence will end in shame."
- Richard Sibbes

"The greatest of all disorders is to think we are whole and need no help."
-Thomas Wilson

From The Complete Gathered God: A Treasury of Quotations for Christians

February 09, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

A Summary of Calvin’s Interpretation of Scripture

A Summary of Calvin’s Interpretation of Scripture
Compiled by Charles R. Biggs

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We can learn so much from our fathers (and mothers!) in the faith. Today's blog is on Calvin's Hermeneutical Method. I would encourage you to read and ponder how John Calvin interpreted his Bible.

The Bible is God's Word; it is inspired and inerrant, yet it needs to be interpreted. We would all wish sometimes that God would have been pleased to give us an inspired interpretation of the Bible, but he gave us His Church.

God in his goodness, gave to us His complete Word, and in his wisdom saw fit to gift and call imperfect people to be about the hard work of rightly interpreting it (Nehemiah 8:1ff; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). John Calvin is one of the ablest and finest interpreters of God's holy, inspired, and inerrant word in the history of Christ's church. He was very careful to seek what God was saying to His Church, and to declare it in a way that is exemplary to us today.

This short summary of Calvin's eight exegetical principles (with quotations from Calvin's other writings) is offered to you with hopes that you too can continue to learn not only the science, but also the art of interpreting God's Word. I have compiled the following short study from Sydney Greidanus' book 'Preaching Christ from the Old Testament', Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1999 (Highly recommended book!!), John Calvin's 'Institutes of the Christian Religion' (also highly recommended), Calvin’s Commentaries (a must have!).

God's Word is the only rule of faith and practice for the Christian. His people long to hear it rightly interpreted, so that they can better understand their faith and their life.

May God grant a new reformation leading to great revival because men and women again will hear the Word of God rightly handled, and that God in His Spirit would correct, rebuke, encourage, and train us in His righteousness so that we might be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Continue reading "A Summary of Calvin’s Interpretation of Scripture" »

February 08, 2007  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

Genesis in the 21st Century by Pastor John Samson

If, like me, you believe the Bible to be the (theopneustos - God breathed) word of God, then you believe some fairly amazing things - things that just sound incredible to so many in our generation.

Take the book of Genesis for example. If you believe Genesis to be the word of God, as I also do, then you are in some good company. The Apostle Paul wrote:
"Therefore, just as through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men..." Rom. 5:12.

Jesus also seemed to be convinced that Genesis was literal history: Matthew 19:3-6:

3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH '? 6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

If you believe that Genesis is literal history, then think about the ramifications of this in the 21st century. You believe that some guy by eating a piece of fruit in some garden, thousands of years ago, thousands of miles away, is the cause of all the suffering experienced in this world. Do we realise how this sounds to our sophisticated, technologically advanced society around us? It not only sounds quite ridiculous but it seems to indicate a total overeaction on God's part! God plunged the entire human race and in fact, all of creation, into a dramatic and terrible corruption. Every human being and every animal experiences death now. Creation itself longs to be released from the dreadful penalty of Adam's sin (see Romans 8:19-22).

Well, either we believe a ridiculous notion here, or else, we have not in any way understood the serious nature of sin. Sin is cosmic treason! Sin is an assault on the unblemished and infinitely holy character of God. God obviously felt He had every right to punish sin in the severe way He did. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), not because God is mean and nasty, but because sin deserves this kind of punishment. And this is not just true of sin in general, but every sin in particular. Every one of my sins deserve this, as does yours. And if for one moment we think the punishment is extreme, I think it is because we have never fully grasped the sheer and utter magnitude of the glory and holiness of God.

Continue reading "Genesis in the 21st Century by Pastor John Samson" »

February 07, 2007  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink

To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself

One of the most prevalent motifs that runs through the whole Bible is its constant reminder of the insufficiency of man. While this may seem all too obvious, we need constant reminding of this critical truth in our everyday lives. This goes for the non-Christian, because he has no hope apart from Christ's mercy, and for the Christian who has no hope, save in Christ and Christ alone. This is not only clear in those parts of the Scripture which are propositional but also are quite pervasive in the gospel narratives. If you look closely at many of the stories associated with Christ's earthly ministry, it becomes clear that deliverance occurred in individuals only when the they were so desperate that they came to an end of themselves and were reduced to begging, if you will. Grace works salvation in us, not as we are, but first humbles our pride revealing our natural brokenness, spiritual bankruptcy and impotence, which none of us naturally appear ready to admit. For our true condition before God is that we cannot even lift a finger toward our salvation and can bring nothing to God except that which He first gives us.

Continue reading "To Cut off the Sinner from All Hope in Himself" »

February 06, 2007  |  Comments (12)   |  Permalink

THE CHRIST OF ROMANS: A Devotional Overview of Paul's Letter to the Romans- Rev. Charles R. Biggs

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Have you ever read a story with your family or with others and you begin to think and act within the story as one of the characters? You have this place in the story where you find your identity and understand yourself better as part of the story.

You should remind yourself that you are part of a real story of grace and redemption. Your relationship with Jesus Christ by faith is part of a grand story and narrative that God has been telling to the whole world since the foundation of the earth.

This amazing story of God’s redemption in Christ is exactly where the Apostle Paul begins his letter to the Christians at Rome. Paul understands himself and wants all Christians to understand themselves in the grand story of redemption. So Paul begins with the gospel of God that was told all through the Old Covenant and has now climaxed in the Person and work of Jesus Christ!

“Paul…called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 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, 5 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, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ…”

Paul writes the Book of Romans to explain this story better and to teach how both Jews and Gentiles (all the nations) are part of this grand and amazing story by faith of God’s salvation in Christ!

Continue reading "THE CHRIST OF ROMANS: A Devotional Overview of Paul's Letter to the Romans- Rev. Charles R. Biggs" »

February 02, 2007  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink