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Our Need for Justification by Faith

Why do we need to be justified by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8)? “It is as though God had committed to our trust a perfect crystal vase, and had said, ‘if you keep that whole, and present it to me, you shall have a reward.’ But we have cracked it, chipped it; ah! my brethren, the most of us have broken it and smashed it to pieces.”[1] This is why Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

All the blessings of the Christian life are received by faith. Look at the way the Bible described how faith shapes the believer in Galatians 3:24-29. The promise of justification by faith in verse 24. The power of faith in verse 26— “for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.” The moment God accepts the faithful in verse 27— “For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” The subsequent restored fellowship through faith in verse 28— “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Finally, the result of faith in verse 29—”And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.”
The faith that saves is never alone. Faith is the blessed union of belief in and submission to God (James 2:24, 26). If either belief or submission are absent, then faith is not present. “Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?….You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete” (James 2:20-22 CSB). Are you justified?

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, “Justification by Faith,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 60 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1914), 64.

Jesus–The Word

Do You know my Jesuspic

What do you think about Jesus? I’m afraid Jesus may not be the priority and center of your life because you don’t realize just how great Jesus is. In order to understand how great Jesus is, John began by telling us where Jesus came from. We gauge a person by where they are from. If someone is from Hollywood, you might think they are an actor. If someone is from Nashville, you might think he is a country singer. If someone is from Washington, you might think they are a politician. Where is Jesus from? What does that tell us about him?

If we say that Jesus is from Nazareth, we would be right. If we say he was born in Bethlehem, we would be right again. If we say that he worked in Galilee and Jerusalem, we would be right again. But these are only a few brief stops on the way. These important stops are a brief part of Jesus’ journey. He never was “from” these places. They were only stops along the way. Jesus was and is from Heaven.

John didn’t ease us into understanding Jesus’ deity. He wants his divinity to immediately confront us and overwhelm us before we go on to see the incarnation and death of God the Son. John’s Gospel begins with the simple words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). These words tell us where Jesus really was from, and where he is now. This opening statement tells us He is eternal; He is with God[1], and He is divine. He is the Word.

He is the Word

When John described Jesus as “the Word,” the “Logos,” what did he want us to know? The “Word” or “Logos” has to do with the reason behind everything. “In short, God’s ‘Word’ in the Old Testament is his powerful self-expression in creation, revelation, and salvation, and the personification of that ‘Word’ makes it suitable for John to apply it as a title to God’s ultimate self-disclosure, the person of his own Son.”[2] In Colossians 1:15-18, Paul described “the Word” in this way:

the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers: all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead: that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Jesus is the Word—the reason behind everything and the reason for everything.

He is Eternal

Jesus, the reason for everything, has always been existing. He is eternal. The Greek word translated “was” is a very powerful and informative word. The Greek word is “ἦν” and fully means “was being” because it is in the imperfect tense. It was an ongoing action. Jesus was existing before creation. In other words, Jesus is eternal.

John 1:1 sounds like Genesis 1:1. While Genesis 1:1 is about the beginning of creation, John 1:1 is about what was going on before creation began. The Gospel opens with the declaration, “in the beginning was the Word.” This calls us back to the unseen magnificent glory enjoyed by the Father, Son, and Spirit before angel, universe, or man were created. The Word enjoys the same eternal (no beginning and no end nature) that the Father and Spirit experience.

John taught the same principle in 1 John 1:2, “the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” John taught us that Jesus, the life became made known (was manifest) but that life was already existing before he came to the world to be seen of John. Jesus is “the eternal life.” John taught that the Word was with the Father before being seen in the world.

He is with God

The phrase “the Word was with God” is incredibly difficult to translate. The word translated “with” actually means “to.” So, the text says something like “the Word was to God.”,[3] The text isn’t just telling us that the Word was in the Father’s presence. The text is also telling us that there is cooperation among equals which existed between Jesus and the Father.[4] The Father and Word were together. They were together and working together as equals.

The fact that “the Word was with God” is incredibly important to understand because it guards us against heresies about Christ. The ancient doctrine of Ebionism taught that Jesus was just a man and not divine. This can’t be true because Jesus was eternally with the Father. Adoptionism taught that Jesus was human, but that God adopted him at some point as his divine Son. This can’t be true because Jesus was always divine. He was with the Father eternally. Arianism teaches that Jesus is the Son of God, but he is not fully divine. This can’t be true because Jesus was with the Father in eternity as an equal.[5]

He is Divine

John finished his great opening verse with the words, “and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). Or as the New English Translation rightly says, “the Word was fully God.” Philippians 2:6 makes this clear saying that Jesus was “existing in the form of God” (ASV). He “took the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6) although he was fully divine. The full human nature and the full divine nature existed unmixed in the person of Jesus.

“The premise underlying the name Logos is the consistent teaching of Scripture that in creation and re-creation alike God reveals himself by the Word. Thus, Logos points to the one who is able to fully reveal God because from all eternity God communicated himself in all his fullness to him.”[6] Jesus is “the Son of God.”  Psalm 2:7 described Jesus in a special way as “begotten of the Father.” Hebrews 1:2-3, 5 and Hebrews 5:5 use Psalm 2 to describe the eternal divine nature of the Son. The deity of Christ was proven to us by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead by God working through the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:33, Rom. 1:4).

How Big is Your Jesus?

Homer, in The Odyssey, said: “All humans have need of the gods.”[7] All people everywhere have sought for a god. If there was no god pleasing to them, they made a god for themselves. Our culture has fallen into the latter category. Our hearts are god factories. Still, we search for meaning and satisfaction. We will continue to search until we find Jesus. Only Jesus, the Son of God, is perfect for all our needs.

“Christ, the incarnate Word, is thus the central fact of the entire history of the world.”[8] Jesus is the eternal Son of God. We cannot conceive of anything greater than the Father, the Son, or the Spirit. Yet, Jesus stands out as distinct from the Father and Spirit because only Jesus “took the form of a servant.” Only Jesus died for our sins.

 

[1] The Triune God has been denied by some, but this doctrine is most definitely presented in Scripture. The Bible teaches that the Father, Son, and Spirit are three distinct persons who are Divine (Gen. 1:3; Ps. 33:6, 9; 147:18; 148:8; Joel 2:11; Is. 40:7, 13; 59:19). The existence of the Triune God is seen in Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 4. Jesus is in the water. The Holy Spirit descends as a dove. The Father speaks from Heaven. In John 17 Jesus prayed to the Father. “Father” and “Son” and “Jesus” clearly they are not titles referring to the same person. In John 15:26 Jesus told his disciples the Holy Spirit would come after he had ascended. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are clearly two different persons. All three persons are divine. We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. This mysterious Triunity is impossible for us to understand, but do you want a God you can fully understand?

[2] D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 116.

[3] “I is difficult to translate the Greek phrase pros ton theon (in both vv. 1 and 2) into English. Literally it means “toward God.” Such a translation has the advantage of emphasizing a differential in the Godhead between the parties, but it must not be understood to highlight either ontological change in the Godhead or an oversubjectionism that makes the Logos less than God.” Gerald L. Borchert, John 1–11, vol. 25A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 103.

[4] B. M. Newman and E. A. Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of John (New York: UBS, 1980), 8.[4]

[5] These concepts will be discussed further, but it is important to see that Jesus was eternally with God the Father and God the Spirit. Jesus eternally is the second member of the Godhead. This eternal divine being “took on flesh” or became human (Jn. 1:14). Until we appreciate the deity of Christ, we cannot appreciate the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.

[6] Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Abridged in One Volume, 221.

[7] Homer Odyssey III, 48.

[8] Herman Bavinck Reformed Dogmatics: Abridged in One Volume. John Bolt Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011): 412.

Under the Influences?

We are influenced in many ways. “Do not be deceived, ‘Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20).

Our families and neighbors that influence us greatly. The eras and locations in which people are born incredibly influence the way we process information, understand emotions,  relate to others, and even the way we relate to ourselves. Those born in Gospel rich areas have far greater opportunities than those born in areas isolated from the Gospel for centuries.

We are also influenced by ourselves.  Jeremiah 17:9 says, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Proverbs 28:26 says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Our deceitful heart can lead us further away from God. Paul wrote, “but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools … Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (Rom. 1:21-24). The further we wander from God, the more difficult it will be to find our way home to him. The more we seek God, the more he will draw nigh unto us (Js. 4:8).

But thankfully there are godly influences drawing Heavenward. God’s creation points us back to the Creator (Heb. 3:4; Rom. 1:20). In Jesus “the goodness and loving kindness of God has appeared” (Titus 3:4). The appearance of Jesus draws us to the Father. Preaching the Gospel opens the opportunity for faith to begin in hearers (Rom. 10:17). The Scriptures are the lamp to our path (Ps. 119:105). Christians themselves are “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth” and “a city set upon a hill.”

We are being pulled. Our hearts are in a constant tug-of-war. The victor determines the eternal home of our souls. What influences will win your soul?

 

 

SPEAKING IN TONGUES AND OTHER MIRACLES

Speaking in tongues is a prominent image in today’s religious landscape. The presence of “tongue speaking” in the New Testament has convinced many that they should speak in tongues today. Many will go so far as to say that unless one “speaks in tongues,” he or she isn’t saved. There are three positions on the question of modern miracles: charismatic (miraculous), functional cessationist (cautiously hopeful for a miracle), and cessationist (miracles have ceased).

History of Movement

Historically, the presence of miraculous gifts in the New Testament is undeniable. However, the majority if not all realized that miraculous gifts were not expected to continue. This expectation that gifts were to cease is seen in the rise of a recognized heretic named Montanus in Anatolia during the middle of the second century. Montanus claimed that he was able to speak from God just as the apostles and prophets did in the first century. His false claims were recognized as false. Sermons were preached against the heresy. Pamphlets were written against the heresy. The Montanus churches were burned. Montanus followers were driven from their houses. Thus the attempt to rekindle “inspired speech” was defeated severely.

Centuries later, John Wesley encouraged miraculous events in the lives of his followers. He called these events “second workings of grace” produced by the Holy Spirit. While Methodists (founded by the Weasleys) do not typically practice miraculous gifts today, the practice is continued by the Church of the Nazarene (they are essentially Methodists with miraculous abilities.) The influence of the Wesleys on the religious landscape of early America is incredible.

You may be surprised to learn that the Cane Ridge Revivals held by Barton W. Stone were also “charismatic” in nature. Stone recounted how those who wanted to make their salvation experience known would go so far as to shake down trees and other things. There are accounts of people practicing in the woods before coming into the main arena to have their “conversion experience.”

The next major supposed miraculous event began at the Azuza Street revivals. These “revivals” were led by African American Pentecostal preacher William J. Seymour in Los Angeles. He was a former Holiness (Wesleyan) preacher.

Why I Am a Cessationist

            Those who hold to modern miraculous gifts typically love the Lord and hold to the Bible. However, that does not mean they are correct in their interpretations and actions. The supposed experiences of an individual cannot trump the teaching of Scripture. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). The question is not about different experiences, the quest is to know and agree upon the message of God.

The Proof of Miraculous Gifts is Non-Existent

When Jesus performed miracles, no one denied that he had performed a miracle. They accused him of performing miracles by the power of the Devil (Matt. 12:22-32). Everyone saw the proof. Today, miraculous gifts are only performed when there can be no proof. Supposed healings are impossible to confirm. This is why the gift of tongues is so prominent. The speech itself is supposed to be the proof. However, the speech is not real speech. It is a “heavenly language.” The New Testament tongues were not “unknown to anyone” they were “known to someone.” They were real languages with a real purpose—to teach the lost who spoke a different language.

The Bible Has All the Inspired Words We Need

First, remember that the Bible teaches we have all the inspired words we need to be saved and to live as saved people. God has spoken, “in the last days through his Son” (Heb. 1:2). This last message is “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints’ (Jd. 3). The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). We are not to give accept another Testament of Jesus Christ or another revelation (Gal. 1:6-9).

The Purpose of Miraculous Gifts Has Been Completed

Hebrews 2:3-4 tells us the message was “declared first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Since the message has been confirmed, we no longer need miracles to confirm the message. The words of Scripture are still confirmed by the perfection of Scripture in everything to which it speaks (especially powerful are the fulfillment of prophecies concerning Christ).

There Are No Apostles to Pass on Miraculous Gifts

Remember that miraculous gifts were given directly to the apostles and then only through the apostles. Acts 8:17-18 tells us that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were given through the apostles’ hands. There are no more apostles. No one living since the 1st century can fulfill the requirements. Paul said he was the last apostle (1 Cor. 15:8). The apostles were not replaced after they died (Acts 12:2). The apostolic age included miraculous works (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 3:5; Eph. 4:11). However, the apostolic age is gone and so is the miraculous age.

What About the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

The baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred twice in all the New Testament. The first account is in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit gave miraculous gifts to the apostles as Jesus promised. The second time occurred in Acts 10 as a sign to Peter that Cornelius and the other Gentiles should be baptized. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not available today. Ephesians 4:5 says there is one baptism. That one baptism is the baptism “for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38) in which one is “born again” (Jn. 3:3, 5) and adopted into the family of God (Gal. 3:26-27). Since there is only the one baptism available today, no one should expect or demand a baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gifts which accompany it.

My Way?

Sinatra sang, “I Did It My Way.” The song begins softly, “And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full. I traveled each and ev’ry highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” It closes with a bang, “For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught. The right to say the things he feels and not the words of one who kneels. The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!”

While it is a beautiful melody, those are selfish words. Compare that self-centeredness to the selflessness of Christ who prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me–nevertheless, not my will, but yours” (Lk. 22:42). Jesus “was existing in the form of God” but took “the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7).

Paul learned from Christ to die to self and live for God (Gal. 2:20). In Philippians 3:7-8 he said, “But everything that was gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ.”

Now, what about when things aren’t “my way?” Should I run away and pout? Should I cause trouble? Don’t worry about “my way.” Those with the mind of Christ should only look for His way. Sinatra’s song closed, “For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught.” I think that is backward. If all a person has is himself, then he has naught. I pray that Jesus is all we have, for then we have everything.

The Barbados Song

Barbados Flag

While in college at Freed-Hardeman, Jessie and I went on a mission trip to the tiny island nation of Barbados. The island nation was made up of very nice tourist areas and not so nice areas where most of the people lived. We knocked doors all day and we met for worship at night.

I don’t remember the sermons, not even the one I preached, but I do remember the song that they sang every time we gathered for worship. The song’s chorus said, “What a thrill that I feel when I get together with God’s wonderful people.” Isn’t that great! That’s the way we should feel whenever we get together with God’s wonderful people.

It makes me sad and discouraged when God’s people choose not to be around God’s people as much as possible. God says we are to “consider one another” and “provoke one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24-25). Sometimes we look at that as an obligation which we must fulfill toward God. So, we drag ourselves to worship services when necessary. That’s just plain sad. God deserves more than obligatory praise—He deserves true adoration.

But the verse isn’t about what God needs. The verse is about what we need. The verse is about what the church needs. I think it is about more than just worship services. These verses describe our dedication to and love for our church family. Look at the way the CSB accurately translates the verses, “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.” To “watch out for” comes from the Greek word κατανοῶμεν which means “to think about carefully” (BDAG). To κατανοῶμεν, think carefully about, we must be around our church family and develop relationships so that we will care about them and therefore be able to think carefully about them.

This principle is seen in the fact that “elders were placed in every church” (Acts 14:23). The elders couldn’t shepherd people they weren’t with. So God designed his church to have an eldership in every congregation. This relationship is so important. Note that Acts 20:28 says “the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” These are relationships which should not be taken lightly.

This principle is seen in each congregation having people with various skills who are able to serve in various ways to harmoniously bring glory to God. Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us that God “himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.” We all have a place to fill for God. God has one overall purpose for all our skills—1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

Take every opportunity to be with your congregation. You need the church. The church needs you. God commanded you to be with the church. God has a place for you in the church. I know it can be difficult at times. People can be difficult. That’s why we have the incarnation. Anselm said sin brings a debt “which no one can pay except God, and no one out to pay except man: it is, therefore, necessary that a God-Man should pay it.”[1] It is impossible for God, who alone in infinite majesty is adequate to atone for sin, to die. It is just as impossible for mankind to adequately compensate for sin through either life or death. Therefore, it was necessary for the Word, the Son of God, to add humanity to his person so that through his death he might be the adequate atoning sacrifice through penal substitution.

Do you realize how important it was and is to God that you be present in the congregation? Our presence was and remains so important that “the Word took on flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). If Jesus left heaven to be with people, shouldn’t we leave home to be with God’s people? Jesus was and is excited to be among his people. Hebrews 2:11-13 says, “For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying: I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters; I will sing hymns to you in the congregation. Again, I will trust in him. And again, Here I am with the children that God gave me.”

Every time we get to be with God’s people, we should feel a thrill. It isn’t a burden. It is the culmination of so much of God’s work.

 

[1]Anselm “Why God Became Man” Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008): 320.

“A Body Thou Hast Prepared for Me”

Pieta

“It was especially the work of God the Father to prepare Christ a body, as appears by Heb. 10:5.”[1] Since it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin, Hebrews 10:1-10 points out the need for the Divine Son of God to be sacrificed for sin. This is why Jesus came into the world (Heb. 10:5).  The phrase “coming into the world” (Heb. 10:5)[2] is used to highlight Jesus’ preincarnate eternal existence and his subsequent incarnation whereby full humanity and full divinity were joined in the one person of Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews quoted Psalm 40:6-8 to highlight the ineffectiveness of purely physical sacrifices and the need for the sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus. The quotation of Psalm 40:6-8 is attributed to a dialogue between the Father and Son. Other Psalms are treated this way in the book of Hebrews (Heb. 1:6; 2:12-13; 10:5-7). So, Jesus is presented as saying to the Father, “you did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me.” The physical sacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament were not able to take away sin (Heb. 10:4). Therefore, the divine Word added full human nature to his person to make the perfect atoning sacrifice. As Anselm said in his work Why God Became Man, the debt of sin is that “which no one can pay except God, and no one ought to pay except man: it is necessary that a God-Man should pay it.”[3]

“O Thou the Eternal Son of God” (William Dix, 1864)

O Thou th’Eternal Son of God, The Lamb for sinners slain, we worship while Thy head is bowed in agony and pain. None tread with Thee the holy place; Thou sufferest alone; Thine is the perfect sacrifice which only can atone.

[1] Jonathan Edwards, The Miscellanies: (Entry Nos. 833–1152), ed. Harry S. Stout, Amy Plantinga Pauw, and Perry Miller, vol. 20, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2002), 235.

[2] John used the phrase in John 1:9; 6:14; 9:39; 12:46; 16:28; and 18:37.

[3] Anselm, Why God Became Man. Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 320.

The Glory of Preaching

Larimore baptizing in Cox Creek

God’s description of his preacher:

“in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”– Colossians 1:24–29.

Just a few days ago, the Larimore home in Florence, Alabama was severely damaged by fire. The old home stood as a reminder of the glory of preaching. The home, now a historic landmark, belonged to T. B. Larimore a preacher of the Gospel. Brother Larimore was known far and wide for being a preacher of the Gospel. He was born and raised in the Sequatchie Valley of East Tennessee, he fought in the Civil War, but most importantly he preached the Gospel.

God blessed the world through Larimore’s preaching. Wherever, the man went God’s message was heard. On two occasions Larimore preached twice a day for several days in a row. He preached at Sherman, Texas from January 3, 1894 to June 7th. 333 sermons were preached and 200 souls were saved. He preached twice every day from January 3, 1895 to April 17 in Los Angeles, California. 121 souls were saved. Larimore’s body has decayed. His home has now burned. He and his memory live on. Why? Because the Gospel was preached.

Sadly, some do not want to hear the familiar story of Jesus on the old rugged cross. Those who “withdraw themselves from the hearing of the word” are those who “willfully despise the power of God, and drive away from themselves his delivering hand” (Calvin’s Commentary on Romans).  Paul loved Gospel preaching. He said, “I am eager to preach the gospel” (Rom. 1:15). Paul told the Romans why he loved Gospel preaching. He loved preaching the Gospel

  • because the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16),
  • because “in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith” (Rom. 1:17).

All the Christian life is shaped by the preached Gospel–all that leads to salvation (1:16), all that has to do with the righteousness of God (1:17).

“The pulpit is ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first decried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.” –Herman Melville, Moby Dick.