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.
No writings in the Bible are so little read and understood, yet more moving and convicting, than the books of Jeremiah the prophet. The book that bears his name may be the longest prophetic book in the OT; however, as Charles Feinberg notes, “Jeremiah has suffered from neglect.” G. Campbell Morgan aptly calls us to study this prophet’s writings: “No prophet of the long and illustrious line had a more thankless task than he, and none was more magnificently and heroically true to his sacred ministry.”
One popular commentator describes the book of Hebrews as “the most difficult book in the NT to study.” Another wrote, “Hebrews is a delight for the person who enjoys puzzles.” I do not disagree that there are several exegetical challenges in the book of Hebrews; however, I would posit that the book of Hebrews has one simple, yet significant theme that cannot be missed—the greatness of Jesus. Let’s explore how the author of Hebrews makes Jesus supreme over three OT motifs. In so doing, the writer exalts Jesus to his rightful position and strengthens the faith of the saints to go hard after their “great Shepherd” (13:20).
In his Gospel, Matthew records a perplexing statement, in which Jesus identifies Peter as “the son of Jonah” (16:17). What does Jesus mean by this title? Many today follow one well-known commentator who uncharacteristically passes over this phrase by surmising that Jesus probably called Peter’s father by his Hebrew equivalent Johanan (Iōanan) and then Matthew contracted it to Jonah (Iōna). Such a comment faces significant challenges, and here are three examples:
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) is one of the most well-known names among America’s founding fathers. However, what is little known among Americans today is his insightful Autobiography. This monograph, which he began when he turned 65 years of age (1771), may give more insight into Franklin’s life than any other document he produced including Poor Richard’s Almanac. What interests me most is Franklin’s comments about his spiritual life. Let me share with you a few of his thoughts, which may encourage us today to be Word-centered believers (Matthew 4:4).
It has been reported that as Alfred Hitchcock lay on his death bed, he said, “One never knows the ending.” This striking statement causes my thoughts to quickly turn to the final chapter of Matthew. The seeming catastrophe of Jesus’ crucifixion on Golgotha’s hill in the previous chapter (27:45-61) gives way to his ultimate triumph in Galilee (28:16-20). What Jesus had predicted before his death (26:32) was now taking place, “just as he said” (28:6). However, for Matthew, Jesus’ resurrection is not the end of the story; rather, this belongs to his divine commission. Jesus’ words to his handpicked disciples are expressions of triumph and hope, not despair and uncertainty. Let’s review three encouraging ideas from Jesus’ last words recorded in Matthew.