Romans, Lesson 14: In Christ


We finished our last lesson half way through Romans, chapter 7, where Paul began to use the first-person pronoun “I” a lot.  He was using a rhetorical technique called “prosopopoeia,” where he writes to represent, not himself, but the typical experience of every Jew when confronted by the Law.   In Romans 7:5-6, Paul contrasted life […]

Romans, Lesson 13: The Real Culprit is Sin, not the Law


In the last half of Romans 6, Paul ran with the idea that someone only has one of two possible masters: sin or God.  He finished with a different comparison, that of a military commanding officer (by using “wages” which was a term referring to military pay).   If God is not your commanding officer, Sin […]

Romans, Lesson 12: We All Answer to Someone or Something

Christians don’t choose to live in their sin.  Why?  That is not who we are.  We are Christians because God brings us into Jesus’ death and resurrection through baptism.  Paul organized the first half of Romans 6 with three parts: objection, response, and encouragement.  Paul ended his short treatise on baptism, stating “you [the Christian] […]

Romans, Lesson 11: God’s Work in Baptism Frees You from the Law

In Romans 5, Paul spoke of what Jesus did objectively for all: save them.  He also spoke that faith receives and trusts in what Jesus did and does.  We know we need salvation because the Law shows how much we’ve trespassed against God.  But God’s grace reigns all the more, leading to eternal life.  So, […]

The “Lament” Psalms, Lesson 7: Psalm 90


Structure This psalm resembles Deuteronomy 32 (vs. 10, 13, and 15) and Genesis 2:4 and 3:19 (vs. 3).  We even find the same vocabulary: “dwelling place” (vs. 1, Deuteronomy 33:27), as well as other terms from Deuteronomy (32:7, 18, 29: “generations, born, wisdom”; 33:15: “mountains”).  So, this psalm does have a Mosaic “feel.” Further, this […]

Romans, Lesson 10: Jesus and Adam: One Brings Death, the Other Gives Life

God Confronts Adam and Eve

Paul keeps driving home the point that our salvation is God’s doing, not a result of what we do.  He earlier described us as being “weak” in relation to God.  Getting his foot in the door, Paul’s descriptions of us in our sinful nature then became worse: ungodly (that is, without God) and sinners.  If […]

The “Lament” Psalms, Lesson 6: Psalm 88


Structure Psalm 88 is the darkest of all the psalms, a prayer for help, ending without resolution.  The psalmist cries out, with images providing an unflinching view of someone who feels as if God has not only abandoned him but is even behind his predicament. Psalm 88 has three sections: The first (vs. 1-8) and third […]

Church, State, and the Voting Booth


“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22:21).  Jesus’ words reveal that we live our lives in two kingdoms: The kingdom of earthly power (the government), and the kingdom of God (the Church). The Church is not the state, and the state is not the Church.  So, […]

Romans, Lesson 9: The Hope We Have in Christ


Paul showed the absurdity of turning what God originally did to bring someone into His Old Covenant into what people did for God.  “If the adherents of the Law are to be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is nullified” (Romans 3:14).  Someone is an heir because he inherits, not by what he does.  […]

The “Lament” Psalms, Lesson 5: Psalm 51


Structure This psalm is a straightforward confession of rebellion against God with a plea for Him to restore David and the promise of a faithful life in the future.  Intimacy with God reigns within this psalm: It is in direct address, with 45 appearances of either the pronoun “You” or an imperative verb directed to […]