By In Theology

Understanding Romans 3:21-26 in Context

Romans was an important book in the sixteenth-century Reformation, as was the topic of how one was justified in the sight of God. And one part of the cultural revolution that occurs was over how sins were punished. For instance, here are a couple of Martin Luther’s theses:

– The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.

– The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.

Our passage in Romans 3 has something to say about that, but let’s remember some of the context.

Paul tells the Romans early on that he’s not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). It would be interesting to consider why Paul would even bring up the possibility of being ashamed of the Gospel, but we’ll leave that aside for now.

Paul also says that, in the Gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith” (Romans 1:17). That’s a wordplay and there is some debate on what Paul meant. I think he is referencing that God’s righteousness is revealed from God’s faithfulness to our faith. There are parallels in Romans 3 that I think point to that understanding.

But it is noteworthy that Paul goes on to say that not only is God’s righteousness revealed in the Gospel, but God’s wrath is revealed from heaven (Romans 1:18).

Now here is where I think we can go wrong and miss Paul’s point about how God wrath is involved in his Gospel. What follows from Romans 1:18 is not a description of God’s wrath but of the human behavior and unbelief that provokes God’s wrath.

(more…)

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By In Podcast, Worship

Episode 19: A Mighty Fortress, Then & Now

A Mighty Fortress: Then & NowIn this Reformation Day episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Jarrod Richey discusses Luther’s original version of the hymn “A Mighty Fortress.”

Unless you grew up in a Lutheran church, chances are that you’re singing quite a bit different version of that great hymn of the Reformation, Ein feste burg ist unser Gott or A Mighty Fortress is Our God. This great hymn based on Psalm 46 has a story that the average evangelical Christian has not heard. Here’s an audio post with sound clips explaining how this hymn has changed over the years. There is more that could be said and those who could say it more eloquently, but my hope is that we can begin to better appreciate this hymn in ways we hadn’t before.

Also, Here’s a link to the PDF of the Lutheran version closest to what Martin Luther penned:

 http://kuyperian.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/AMightyFortress-Lutheran-LETTER-.pdf

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By In Politics

Author Interview: Remy Wilkins

So your novel Strays is available (for order) . What’s it about? What inspired the story?

It’s about a boy named Rodney who has to spend the summer at his weird uncle’s and gets caught up in a demonic invasion. The major influence is The Screwtape Letters, which is a book that never goes more than a couple of years without being pulled off my shelf. The other point of inspiration is Martin Luther, particularly his dealings with Satan. His legendary abuse of the devil has always tickled me. His hymn A Mighty Fortress is also a touchstone and I use its lyrics as chapter titles.

Strays by [Wilkins, Remy]

Canon Press, 2017

I love the title. Is it too much of a spoiler to ask what the name is about? (more…)

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By In Theology

Loving the Idea of the Church or Loving the Church?

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but this is the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. Celebrations are going on all around the world, and rightly so. Though the cause for and the consequences of the Reformation are sad in many respects, there is much for which we can be thankful. It is sad that the Western Church fell into such moral and doctrinal error that such a radical surgery had to occur. But we are grateful that God had mercy on us by delivering us from the errors that corrupted the church. It is sad that the unintended consequence of the Reformation was the splintering of the church into denominations. But we are grateful that God is sanctifying his church through our differences and will one day bring the entire church back together in perfect unity in accordance with the prayer of our Savior.

Much has been done. There is still much to do. As Protestant churches are infused once again with this sense of our historical identity, it can be a temptation to get into a “reformation mode” that is characterized by a zeal for what the church ought to be, falling in love with the idea or ideal of the church, but not loving the church as she is.

There is nothing wrong with ideals. They are necessary to keep us pressing forward. Through the history of the world God himself has laid out the standards for which his people ought to strive. Through his direct commands as well as imaging his people in the Tabernacle, Temple, and the New Jerusalem (Rev 21–22), we are given the standards, the ideals, for which we are to strive.

But sometimes we fall in love with the idea of the church instead of loving the church itself; the church as she is and not just what she ought to be. We imagine this place of perfect peace and harmony, where everyone is doing what is right, and we are laughing and joyful all the time. We love that place. But that is not the church we are a part of. It is out there somewhere, we are sure, but it is not the church of which I am presently a part.

In our love for the ideal, we can lose sight of the fact that peace and harmony in a sinful world come through forgiveness of the sins of others and their forgiveness of my sins. Joy in the church comes through longsuffering with one another, bearing the pain and hurt of, with, and from others. We servants are not greater than our Lord. If he had to endure suffering for the joy that was set before him (Heb 12.1-2), how much more will we have to endure suffering in order to enter joy?

Loving the church involves loving both God’s ideal for the church and the church as she is right now in history. Loving God’s ideal for the church keeps us encouraging one another to press forward. Loving God’s church as she is right now keeps us remembering that this is a lifelong process. We must be patiently content with where we are but never satisfied.

If you find yourself always discontent with the church, restless, nothing is ever good enough, not satisfied with progress, always thinking that some other church situation must be better, it might be that you are more in love with the idea of the church rather than loving the church itself. Sure, there is always reformation that needs to take place in the church. Part of that reformation might just be learning contentment with and loving the people who sit with you in worship every Sunday.

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By In Culture, Theology, Worship

Does ‘Sola Scriptura’ Mean What You Think It Means?

“This is the only book I need,” says the evangelical, holding up his Bible. “We don’t recite creeds at my church,” says another, pointing to hers. Anyone who has spent much time in low-church Protestant circles will be familiar with these Bible-only sentiments. But how well do they square with the Reformation idea of Scripture alone? Is this what the Reformers meant? (more…)

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By In Books, Podcast

Episode 18: The Blessing Life

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito interviews Dr. Gerrit Dawson.

Dr. Dawson is the Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, LA and the author of The Blessing Life: A Journey into Unexpected Joy, IVP Press. In this interview, KC host, Uri Brito, engages Dr. Dawson on the biblical definition of blessing rescuing it from its misuse in evangelical discourse.

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By In Theology

John’s Wedding Party

Guest post by Jacob Gucker

Interpreters of the fourth Gospel have long noted that it begins very similarly to the book of Genesis. John’s description of the opening days of Jesus’ ministry reads as if it is echoing the words of the six-day creation sequence from the book of beginnings. Most scholars favor the idea that the wedding at Cana falls on the seventh day, completing the first week of the new creation with man and woman together and the wine of the new age flowing abundantly. Others suggest that the wedding falls on the 6th day, the wedding at Cana echoing the creation of man and woman.

There are other themes from the rest of Genesis in the opening chapters. For instance, we see the dove that once hovered over the flood now coming down to light upon Jesus at His baptism. And, just as Jacob saw angels descending and ascending on a stairway to heaven, Jesus claims that His disciples will see the angels doing the same on Him. Furthermore, just as Noah provided rest in the form of wine after the great flood, Jesus turns an abundance of water into wine at the wedding feast, symbolizing the genesis of a new age.

Commentators agree that chapters 2-4 are a distinct literary unit because of the inclusio in 4:46 which informs the reader that Jesus has returned to Cana where He turned the water into wine. Scholars refer to this unit as a “Cana to Cana cycle.” I propose that John intended this unit to be a chiastic recapitulation of Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” I also propose that this unit works as a literary “day” on which the “Sun of Righteousness” comes out of His chamber like a bridegroom and, like a strong man runs His course with joy. (more…)

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