Worth Reading...

Religious liberty has become a legal, political, and cultural battleground.How should we ponder and respond to issues like pharmacists who won’t dispense abortion-inducing drugs, bakers who won’t bake gay “marriage” cakes, and Muslims who want to build mosques in our communities? Luke Goodrich is a seasoned attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a believer in Jesus.His book provides a thoughtful, balanced approach to legal issues and Christian responses. His work is especially strong when he emphasizes two aspects of this issue: The central role of personal conscience.At their best, our leaders and citizens have recognized conscience as a central component of religious freedom.Goodrich seeks to balance compelling societal interests with protecting freedom of conscience for everyone. The universal need for religious freedom.Sometimes Christians advocate for religious freedom for Christians but hesitate to extend the same freedom to people of other faiths.Goodrich persuasivel…

Charge?...Romans 8:33-34

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?
It is God who justifies.”

The true story is told of a doctor who frequently treated poor people.When he died, family members found a ledger.The names of many people were on a list, and lines were drawn through their accounts with the word “forgiven” written next to their debts.The doctor’s widow decided to try to collect on the debts and took the people to court.The judge established that it was the husband’s handwriting in the ledger, then declared, “What your husband has forgiven is forgiven.” Paul now asks another question: Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?The clear answer is, “No one!”Why?It is God who justifies.As Paul has repeatedly shown us throughout this letter, justification is God’s declaration of His forgiveness of our sins.Because Jesus has died to receive the punishment we deserve, the Father looks at believers in Jesus and announces, “You are forgiven and free!” Paul then asks another question: Who is to condem…

All Things...Romans 8:32

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
It’s always entertaining to watch the engineered implosion of a building.Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.Sometimes it’s spectacular, but sometimes it’s boring.Yet it’s always fascinating to see so much fall apart so quickly.Yet when the cameras go away, the work is not done.Laborers must still clear the debris, and someone must deal with the foundation of the building.You can’t ignore the foundation. This wonderful section of Paul’s letter continues with the foundation of our faith.Paul lists a variety of precious promises for the believer throughout the chapter.But how do we know they are true?How can we be confident in these words?What is the foundation for the joys we experience and express as we read these promises? God did not spare His own Son.The Father sent the Son to live for us, then gave the Son to die for us.Human descriptions always fail to …

For and Against...Romans 8:31

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” I forget the product in this advertisement, but I remember the scene.Pittsburgh Steeler legend Jerome Bettis joins a pickup football game.You can imagine what happens.He scores every time he touches the ball, even while dragging numerous tacklers with him.With Jerome Bettis on your pickup football team, no one will stop you, and you will win. On a cosmic scale, this is Paul’s point as he continues to describe and declare the wonders of God’s grace to His people.These things include all the truths he has offered in the first portion of this chapter.Now Paul moves to a grand conclusion, and he begins with a rhetorical question: If God is for us, who can be against us?John Stott captures the point well: “The apostle hurls these questions out into space, as it were, defiantly, triumphantly, challenging any creature in heaven or earth or hell to answer them or to deny the truth that is contained in them.But the…

Calling to Glory...Romans 8:30

“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Back in the day, you may have received a kit as a present.Perhaps the kit would enable you to build a model airplane, a ship, or some other neat object.The kit was advertised as containing everything you needed to construct whatever was in the box.But was that always true?No.You often needed tools, glue or something else the manufacturer didn’t provide. God does far better.Paul’s next declaration reveals the ways God provides for the complete salvation of His people. > He predestines.God chooses the ones who will be His own. > He calls.God turns their hearts from sin and leads them to faith in Jesus. > He justifies.God declares His people righteous before His holy throne. > He glorifies.God grows His people in grace, then welcomes them to glory. We can always add more details, but the kit is complete.From the predestination of the past to the g…

He Foreknew...Romans 8:29

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Love at first sight, or an arranged union?As we consider how a man and a woman eventually marry, we might describe those as the two extremes.In one case, he sees her, or she sees him, and someone says, “I am going to marry that person.”In the other case, outside parties (usually relatives) make a transaction and establish the relationship. Which image best depicts Paul’s declaration here?He writes, For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.Christians have long disagreed on the nature of this foreknowledge.Did God look with love on certain people and elect them for glory because of His love, or did God merely know who would believe in Him, then choose them for salvation on the basis of such knowledge? The context answers the question.Recall what Paul has discussed in this chapter: > In union wit…

All Things For Good...Romans 8:28

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
The traditional television show is quite convenient.Whether it is comedy, drama, or mystery, a problem occurs.Tension builds, and there seems to be no way for the issue to be resolved.Perhaps you watch the clock and wonder how this will get wrapped up before the time is over.But since this is television, it always happens.The comedy characters reunite.The dramatic characters resolve their issues.The mystery is solved.It all fits together so well. Is the Christian life like this?It is easy to read this verse and believe so.Romans 8:28 is the classic word of comfort for Christians in trouble.But like any other verse, we can misuse it.We can blithely and even cruelly toss these words at hurting people.This verse is ultimately comforting, but we must think carefully about what Paul is saying. The first qualifier: These words are for those who love God.While we believ…