Posts from February 2014

Thoughts on: 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13 is one of those chapters that is often referenced without any consideration for its context. More often than not, it is read out at weddings… it is, after all, all about love, isn’t it? But to take it out of context is not only to do a disservice to the text, but also to do a disservice to ourselves. We need to recall that this is the middle of Paul’s three-chapter discussion on true spirituality. In other…

Thoughts on: 1 Corinthians 12

The Corinthians want advice about what it means to be spiritual. They came from a society where there were plenty of spiritual options on the table. And all around them were examples of “spiritual gifts” – some not dissimilar to those being found in the church. They wanted to know how to tell the genuine article – the gifting of the Holy Spirit – from the frauds of Satan. Says Paul: it’s about God edifying his church. So let’s pray that we would be good servants of Jesus.

Thoughts on: 1 Corinthians 11

What exactly does Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 11:1-3? What does he mean by “head”? And is the head of woman “man” or “her husband”? (Personally, I think it means husband.) Why does a man dishonour his head – Christ – if he prays or prophesies with his head covered? Why does a woman dishonour her head – her husband – if she does exactly the same thing with her head uncovered?

Thoughts on: 1 Corinthians 2

How does one grow a church? How does one make your church a “success”? It’s tempting to try to speak with clever words, sounding wise. Tempting to speak with a wisdom that would be winsome to the world. But what I need is for God to work.

Thoughts on: 1 Corinthians 1

The church in Corinth was a very interesting congregation. In many ways, it was a thriving community empowered by the presence of God’s Spirit. There was much about the church to cause rejoicing: not least the basic fact that they were the church of God – those called by God to be his own holy people. Those who had come into a saving relationship with God through Jesus; who had already been declared holy by the blood of Jesus. This…

Thoughts on: Romans 16

And so we come to the last chapter of Romans. Paul commends to the Roman church Phoebe – a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Quite possibly it is she that is delivering this letter to the Roman church. Paul notes that she is one worthy of honour among God’s people. She is one who has been very helpful to many – especially Paul. Of particular note is the fact that this is a woman who is called a deacon…

Thoughts on: Romans 15

In Romans 14, Paul wrote about the need to live a life of love – not lording my theological conclusions over those of others. Instead, he concludes here in Romans 15, those who are strong should be considerate about those who are sensitive about controversial issues. Our rule of life is to be that of Jesus: living not to please ourselves, but for the glory of God. which means helping others do what is right; building them up in the…

Thoughts on: Romans 14

Paul finished Romans 13 by urging us to not seek ways to indulge in our evil desires. But what about circumstances and situations where there is a difference of opinion as to whether what I am doing is right or wrong? Let’s be clear at the front: there is a standard of holiness. I can’t just decide – contrary to the clear teaching of God – that something is right, and then live out my decision. Well… I can. But…

Thoughts on: Romans 13

Here in Romans 13, I think, Paul is continuing the theme he started in chapter 12. There he urged us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God in worship. Which means allowing God to transform us ever more into the likeness of his Son Jesus. In chapter 12, Paul explored what that meant in terms of our interactions with individuals. And here in Romans 13 he moves to consider what it means to worship God with our lives…

Thoughts on: Romans 12

On the basis that God’s mercy is for everyone, Paul here in Romans 12 turns and pleads with his readers to give your bodies to God. Why? Because of all that he has done for us. He has saved us, adopted us, made us his own people. But what does Paul mean when he urges us to give our bodies to God? Well, he restates it in terms of us letting our bodies be living, holy sacrifices; the kind that…

Thoughts on: Romans 11

In the very early church, there were a great number of Jewish believers. But in a very short period of time, it came to pass that there were more Gentile (non-Jewish) believers than Jewish. It seemed (and could still seem) that what started out as the fulfilment of the Old Testament, the continuation of true Hebrew trust in God, had broken away from Judaism. And if so, it begs the question: had God rejected his own people, Israel? No, writes…

Thoughts on: Romans 10

The message of faith, trust, is simply this: that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him form the dead, we will be saved. God’s way of making people right with him is our believing in our heart. And God’s way of saving us is through our confessing Christ.

Thoughts on: Romans 9

When I think about Paul, I tend to think of him as God’s chosen apostle to the Gentiles – which is what he was. But just because Paul was commissioned by Jesus to tell the world at large about the good news doesn’t mean that he ever forgot his own people. But the key – as always – comes back to trust. Only those who trust in God are shown his mercy.

Thoughts On: Romans 8

Romans 8 is one of those passages that I just love. In particular, I constantly remind myself of the conclusions that Paul draws in verses 31-39: since God is for us, nothing and nobody can stand against us. We cannot be accused – for in Christ we have already been made right in God’s sight. We cannot be condemned, because Jesus sits at the right hand of God pleading for us. And nothing can separate us from Christ’s love. When…

Thoughts on: Romans 7

As a Christian, I am dead to the law: it was fully applied to Jesus. I share in his death and new life. The law’s reach cannot go beyond the grave! So I am free to serve God by living according to the Spirit rather than the law. As much as sin inclines me away from holiness, God’s Spirit now is at work within me to live a life that pleases God. And God is far stronger than any force of sin…

Thoughts on: Romans 6

In Christ we are dead to sin. But until he comes and makes us new, we need to live that truth out. We are not yet perfect as Jesus is – but we can choose to live out who we are in Christ. We are dead to sin in him – so we should consider ourselves dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ. We are freed from sin’s power – so we should not let sin control how we live. We should refuse to give in to our sinful desires. We should instead – knowing that we are God’s – give ourselves completely to God.

Thoughts on: Romans 5

From enemies to friends who will share in God’s glory – Jesus has brought us to this totally undeserved place of privilege because of our trust! And as powerful as sin is – it can never overpower the grace of God: Never! Sin is a powerful ruler, but when God’s grace comes it rules instead – and we are right with God and will be with him forever.

Thoughts on: Romans 4

Why should we trust God? Because of the history of God’s accepting those who trust in him. And because of what God has already done. He handed over his son Jesus because of our sins, and raised him to life to make us right with God. He has proven himself to be trustworthy and faithful. Being in a right relationship with God isn’t something that we can earn – it is God’s gift to us.