Dying to Change - Romans 6-8 (Part 1)

The first issue we explored from Paul’s letter to the Romans was the meaning and message of the gospel—in Romans 1-5.

In this study, I want to offer a reminder of Paul’s message about choices and behaviors of those who are following God because of the gospel. Romans 6-8 moves from the issues of salvation to the issues of transformation of a believer—since God’s purpose in salvation wasn’t simply to change where we go when we die, but how we live in the “here and now.”

Paul taught in the middle section of the Epistle to the Romans that believers are to be transformed because they have completed their old life, died, and now have a new life to live.

Let’s start by admitting the obvious: ”Death changes many things.” Finally, we don’t have to pay taxes anymore when we die. People can send whatever bill they want to us—and not only are we not going to pay it, no one expects us to do so. Death makes our old obligations null and void. That may sound so obvious that it is really stupid, but the fact is that the center section of Romans was dedicated to that single idea: When you surrendered to Jesus—you “died” as your own master and turned your life and direction over to Jesus, so you don’t have the same obligations you had before to serve self and sin. Read more about Dying to Change - Romans 6-8 (Part 1)

From the Archives: The Blessing of Work

On September 5, 1882, thousands of workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. The event was sponsored by New York’s Central Labor Union. According to documents from the period, workers and families marched from City Hall to Union Square, then gathered in Reservoir Park for picknicking, music, and speeches.

Several individual states established official Labor Day holidays until Congress turned it into a Federal holiday in 1894. Curiously, one labor union of that era also passed a resolution setting aside the Sunday before Labor Day as “Labor Sunday” to focus on “the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement” (Dept. of Labor).

What follows considers, not “spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement,” but biblical aspects of work in general, mostly from Genesis 2:7-15.

5 truths to help us value the blessing of work

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The Blind Eye & The Deaf Ear (Part 4)

Read the series so far.

Need I say a word or two about the wisdom of never hearing what was not meant for you? The eaves-dropper is a mean person, very little if anything better than the common informer; and he who says he overheard may be considered to have heard over and above what he should have done. Jeremy Taylor wisely and justly observes,

Never listen at the door or window, for besides that it contains in it a danger and a snare, it is also invading my neighbor’s privacy, and a laying that open, which he therefore encloses that it might not be open.

It is a well worn proverb that listeners seldom hear any good of themselves. Listening is a sort of larceny, but the goods stolen are never a pleasure to the thief. Information obtained by clandestine means must, in all but extreme cases, be more injury than benefit to a cause. The magistrate may judge it expedient to obtain evidence by such means, but I cannot imagine a case in which a minister should do so. Ours is a mission of grace and peace; we are not prosecutors who search out condemnatory evidence, but friends whose love would cover a multitude of offenses. The peeping eyes of Canaan, the son of Ham, shall never be in our employ; we prefer the pious delicacy of Shem and Japhet, who went backward and covered the shame which the child of evil had published with glee. Read more about The Blind Eye & The Deaf Ear (Part 4)

Apologetics and Your Kids: Part 2 - Authenticity & Worldview

Read Part 1.

I have begun this series with this three-part introduction, trying to bring attention to the matter of Truth and the authenticity of our allegiance to it as Christian parents. My concern is that Christians nowadays do not prize Truth for what it is—an attribute of God—but rather treat it as something they can use a bit of when they think it needful. Francis Schaeffer used to say that the Church should live out what he termed “true truth” before the world. But the Church has forgotten the importance of Truth, and its role as the witness to the Truth in this dark and deceitful age. Truth must come first. Our preferences are not that important.

I realize that in putting matters this way I am not going to make many friends. But I am not concerned with making friends so much as with telling it as it is. And the fact is young people raised in Christian homes and attending evangelical churches are leaving those churches in droves.

According to a Barna poll 66% of these kids are deserting their Christian upbringing. And the figure may be even higher. A survey conducted by the SBC asserts that 88% of young people walk away from the faith never to return. And there is no sign of any abatement. Something is badly amiss, and Christian parents especially need to stop pretending everything’s okay so long as their kid or teenager has a good time at church. Read more about Apologetics and Your Kids: Part 2 - Authenticity & Worldview

People Skills & the Pastor

Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Mar/Apr 2013.

I was talking to a young pastor recently, and after our lengthy conversation I commented on his wisdom and warmth. I told him many pastors fail in regards to dealing with people (something we often refer to as people skills). When I said this, the young pastor was surprised and asked me to elaborate further. So I provided him some specific sad examples of ungracious pastors and their interpersonal blunders. At the close of our conversation, he said something quite profound: “That’s so strange. Why would you become a pastor if you don’t love people?”

That young pastor asked a great question which summarizes the basis of pastoral interpersonal skills…love. Love is the bottom-line way to define people skills. And the pastor’s life must be characterized by love in the same way that Jesus’ life was characterized by love. Read more about People Skills & the Pastor

“Paid In Full!” A Study of Romans 1-5 (Part 3)

For time’s sake, I want to skim a few verses through the next chapters to help us grasp a fuller description of the gospel message. Drop your eyes down into chapter two for a moment. Do you see the first three verses? They make the argument:

The Gospel is a message that shows “living by conscience” won’t fix my sin problem.

We’ve all heard it. “I do the best I can. I hope God will see that I was a good man.” Look at what Paul wrote:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? (Romans 2:1-3)

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The List - Discontentment & Self Deception

A pastor friend mentioned some folks who left his church, unhappy because the church used animated Bible stories with their youth. They complained that those videos distorted the Bible and made light of Scripture. The couple finally left the church. But the church they began attending used the same videos, even more frequently than the first.

Why did this couple rant and rave about videos in one church and turn a blind eye to the same videos in another? Because their faultfinding was insincere, trumped up—and not really about the videos themselves. That was merely the pretext.

We are born with a propensity to lie to ourselves and to others. Dostoyevsky wrote, “Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.” I agree. I witness this in myself, and I see it in others. Our personal pride masks this “lying to self” propensity. Jeremiah 17:9 puts it this way (ESV): “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Read more about The List - Discontentment & Self Deception

The True Church

(About this series)



Do you belong to the one true Church; to the Church outside of which there is no salvation? I do not ask where you go on Sunday; I only ask, “Do you belong to the one true Church?”

Where is this one true Church? What is this one true Church like? What are the marks by which this one true Church may be known? You may well ask such questions. Give me your attention, and I will provide you with some answers.

The one true Church is composed of all believers in the Lord Jesus. It is made up of all God’s elect—of all converted men and women—of all true Christians. In whomsoever we can discern the election of God the Father, the sprinkling of the blood of God the Son, the sanctifying work of God the Spirit, in that person we see a member of Christ’s true Church.

It is a Church of which all the members have the same marks. They are all born of the Spirit; they all possess “repentance towards God, faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” and holiness of life and conversation. They all hate sin, and they all love Christ. They worship differently and after various fashions; some worship with a form of prayer,

6   The Fundamentals Read more about The True Church