Today the words “gospel” and “law” are often held in tension, but need it be this way? When reflecting on the book of Romans, most of us view the overarching theme as the Gospel of God (1:1, 9, 15-17). Surely Martin Luther was right when he said, “This Epistle is really the chief part of the N.T. and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day.” Yet many might be surprised to learn that within the letter to the Romans, the word “law” is used more than 70 times; it is used more in this letter than in Paul’s other 12 N.T. letters combined.
Are there two words in the English language more contradictory than “Christian” and “slavery”? Whereas the term “Christian" connotes a harmonious relationship of peace with God and our neighbors, the term “slavery” is rife with cruelty and oppression. It is hard to imagine two words more distinct from each other in our vocabulary. Yet in Romans 6:19, Paul calls on all believers of Rome to “offer your bodily members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” In effect, he calls on every Christian to be a “slave.” Let’s look deeper into what Paul means when he talks about slavery in the context of the Christian life.
In July I had a unique opportunity—white-water rafting on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. 7 days, 190 miles, 69 rapids, 2 boats, 28 scholars. The purpose of the expedition was to consider the geological and biblical evidences regarding the canyon’s origin. Is the Grand Canyon old or young? Was it formed slowly by a little water or rapidly by lots of water?
I am a dispensationalist in my theological conclusions — not because I carried a Scofield Reference Bible to church as an 18 year-old, nor because the man that led me to Christ was a dispensationalist, nor because I attended a dispensational seminary for my theological education. Each of the preceding factors encouraged me along the way, but they were not decisive. Let me share three concepts that cause me to see dispensational contours in the pages of Scripture.
Many believers associate the grace of God only with the New Testament. Passages in the NT (i.e. John 1:17, Gal. 2:21; 5:14) draw such a clear distinction between the Law of Moses and the grace of God in Jesus Christ that one might mistakenly conclude that the Old Testament God was not a God of grace.