Friday, August 26, 2016

Romans 11 - a handout

I think we may be more or less ready for Sunday.

Romans 11 (p1138) – Israel past, present and future

The issue of Israel

-        in the world today

-        in the church today

-        in the church in New Testament times

-        in the Roman church in New Testament times

-        in the argument of the letter to the Romans

Did God’s word and promise to Israel fail?

Can God be trusted to do what he has promised in the gospel?

See Romans 9-10 for the answers Paul has given so far

Question 1: Did God reject his people [Israel?] (v1)

No because:

(1)   Israel’s hardening is partial not total

Question 2: Did they [Israel] stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? (v11)

No because:

(2)   Israel’s hardening is temporary not permeant

Israel’s transgression à salvation to the Gentiles à Israel becomes envious and accepts the gospel so that the fullness of Israel à even greater riches for the whole world (v11-12)

So what?

(a)    Do not boast over Israel since you depend on the Jewish heritage of the Old Testament (vv17-20a)

(b)   Do not be arrogant but be afraid because you will be broken off too if you are an unbeliever (vv20b-24)

(HT: John Stott & Vaughan Roberts & Penny!)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Lloyd Family and Melchizedek

My aunt has traced something of her family tree. The furthest we can get back amongst the Lloyds is to one Thomas Lloyd senior who was a collier, the father of Thomas Lloyd jnr (Iron Puddler / Engine Driver b. 1822 / 3, Swansea or Brecon or Merthyr d. < 1891).

In a sense Thomas Lloyd snr. is like Melchizedek (the King of Salem and priest of God discussed in Genesis, the Psalms and Hebrews) in that he is "without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life" (Hebrews 7:3). Not of course that Thomas or Melchizedek had a supernatural birth or did not die, but these things are not recorded of them. They play their brief part in the big story of the Lloyd family and of the Bible and they point forward to the generations to come, to my aunt and to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On the blessing of same-sex "marriages" - in which I make one specific point

When I was an ordinand in training, one of the cries of the doctrine department was “we distinguish!”. And indeed we must. But we must distinguish discerningly.

Conservative evangelicals are convinced from the Scriptures and tradition and reason and experience, or so we claim, that same-sex sexual relationships are wrong.

But, one might say, is there not much in such relationships to celebrate and thank God for? Must we not distinguish? As with a heterosexual relationship, could we not ask for God’s blessing on all that is good in the relationship without condoning anything that is bad?

One approach might be to reject the premise of the question and claim that there is nothing good in same-sex sexual relationships. But this will not do. Or at least not in a way. Clearly same sex sexual relationships contain much that is good: love, kindness, mutual help, faithfulness and so on. Some are wonderfully moving and inspiring examples which put many heterosexual marriages to shame.

But moral actions are not only to be evaluated piecemeal and in the abstract. They must be taken as a whole and concretely too.

We must say that all that is proper only to a marriage which is found in a same-sex sexual relationship, however laudable it would be in a marriage, is out of place and misdirected in a same sex sexual relationship.

Allow me an analogy. Now, I know this is dangerous. The headline writers just love “Vicar compares homosexual marriage to X” but I hope you will see the very specific point I want to make.

Consider a bank robbery. Is there not much in it that is good and commendable? A man wants to provide for his children. He co-operates wonderfully with his friends to whom he is politeness itself. He has the most fantastic skill as a safe-breaker. Does it make sense to celebrate those things? Yes and no. Are they goods? Or could they be goods? Yes. But they are misdirected and out of place in a bank robbery. Do they make the bank robbery good? No. Could one bless the bank robbery? I don’t think so. Not on these grounds at least.

If a case is to be made for the blessing of same-sex relationships, it is not this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Some jottings from those greater than I on Romans 1:18-32

‘… there is nothing here to suggest that Paul only has some kinds of homosexual acts in mind. As a cultured and traveled Roman citizen, Paul would have been very familiar with long-term, stable, loving relationships between same-sex couples. That does not stop him from identifying them as not the Creator’s intention for human flourishing.’ (Keller, pp32-33)

Christopher Ash: 

A. The charge is stated (v18)

B. The charge is proved (vv19-32)

(a) what God has done (vv19-20) – God has revealed some things plainly about himself in creation

Acts 14:15-17

Ps 19

(b) what people have done (vv21-23) – people reject the knowledge of God which they have

Our thinking and our feeling and darkened by our rejection of God (v21)

(c) what God has done (vv24-31) – God gave people over to their sin

Because we do not love God as we should, all our loves become disordered.

We have a wrong relationship to our creator and a wrong relationship with creation and our fellow creatures follows.

 Homosexuality graphically illustrates an exchange (v23, v25, v26) of the God given created order.

Same sex desire is, for Paul, a clear example of disordered desire.

 From a Jewish point of view, homosexuality was a particularly appalling Gentile sin.

 V23 - Exchanged glory – Ps 106:20 (Golden calf, Ex 32); Jer 2:11

(Human beings were meant to rule the creation under God but they end up serving created things)

The foolishness of idolatry – Is 44:13

Dt 4:15-18

 Moral chaos is a sign of God’s judgement.

The mess of the world shows that God has handed it over to its sin.

 (d) what people have done (v32) – people not only do what is wrong, but they also accept and approve of wrongdoing

 Is 3:9

 Paul is showing us the need for rescue and that faith in Jesus is the only means of rescue.

Humanity is without excuse and cannot save itself.

 Lk 18:11

 We are really without excuse (v20)

 V21 – the great sin of forgetfulness of God and ingratitude

We live in God’s world as if he didn’t exist

We’ll take the good gifts he gives, but we don’t want him interfering in our lives

 There is level ground at the cross.

We are all the undeserving recipients of grace.

 Our world needs the message of God’s saving righteousness in Christ.

 Kruse’s headings:

(a) Humanity’s rejection of the revelation of God in nature (vv18-23)

(b) The divine reaction to human rejection (vv24-32)

Vaughan Roberts – 14th Oct 2006 – Why is God so angry?

 This passage holds up a mirror to us – and it’s not a pretty sight

 This bad news helps us to appreciate the good news.

Against this black back-cloth, the brilliant diamond of the gospel shines more brightly.

 3 surprising themes run through this passage:

 (1)   Revelation (v19) – we all know some truth about God

General revelation in creation to all people

The invisible God has to some extent made himself visible (v20)

We should all know from the world around us that there is a God and he is very powerful.

Of course the vast majority of people down the centuries and around the world have believed in God.

 The scale and beauty of the universe

 Time and chance?

 (about 16 minutes for statistics about the sun and galaxies)

 (2)   Rebellion (v18) – we’ve all rejected that truth

 We often claim our problem is lack of knowledge:

"If only God would make himself known!"

"Why doesn’t God reveal himself more clearly?"

Hide and seek?

People imagine God is hiding

It’s the other way round:

God seeks us, we hide from him (cf. Gen 3)

 Jesus came to seek and to save the lost

 John – men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil

 V21 – we know we ought to glorify God and give thanks to him

How often do we do that?

 We are all guilty of idolatry whether our idols are metal or mental

 (3)   Wrath (v18) – we all face God’s judgment

 God is not like a constantly smiling indulgent old uncle

 Sex outside of marriage damages and degrades and leads to the breakdown of society

 Homosexual practice not homosexual feelings

 It’s not as if homosexual sex is uniquely sinful.

All of us are included in this catalogue of sin.

Romans 1:18-32 - A handout

For what it's worth prepared for the camp leaders:

Romans 1:18-32 – Humanity’s Problem: Our Need for the Gospel

1:16-17 – Paul’s summary of the gospel

V18, “For…” – Why we need the gospel

V17 – The righteousness of God revealed

V18 – The wrath of God is being revealed (cf. 2v5)

The wrath of God – what it is and what it isn’t

(1) Everyone knows certain truths about God from creation (vv19-20)

(2) Everyone rejects the truth of God which they have (vv18, 21)

John 3:19

So in consequence (3) “God gave them over” (v24, v26, v28)

2 exchanges that reverse the created order:

(a) Idolatry (vv23, 25)

(b) Homosexuality (vv26-27)

Note also v24

And vv29-31

In the beauty of the world we can see God’s greatness.

In the brokenness of the world we can see God’s judgement.

This should drive us back to the grace of God in the gospel.

Everyone needs the righteousness of God to rescue us from the wrath of God. This is the good news we should receive by faith. And it’s the good news which we should play our part in bringing to our broken world.

Romans 1:8-17 - A handout

DV I am going to preach my way through the early chapters of Romans again for the leaders on camp. I think I may not have posted this when I preached it in church recently, so in case it is of any interest or use to anyone anywhere ever:

Romans 1:8-17 (p1128) – The Difference The Gospel Makes

Paul’s summaries of the gospel (vv2-6 & 16-17) sandwich this passage. In these central verses we can see the difference the gospel makes to Paul, and the difference it might make to us:

Paul gives thanks (v8) for the faith of the Romans

Paul prays (v9-10) for the Romans and for his visit to them

Paul plans (vv10-13) to visit Rome, but recognises God is in control

Paul is obliged / indebted (v14) to both Greeks and non-Greeks, to the wise and the foolish, to all people

Paul is eager (v15) to preach the gospel (to the Christians) in Rome

Paul is not ashamed (v16-17) of the gospel

Why is Paul eager to preach the gospel and unashamed of it?

The gospel is such good news!

The gospel is the power of God (v16)

Salvation / rescue is at stake (v16)

The gospel is for everyone (v16)

The gospel requires the response of faith (vv16-17)

The gospel reveals the righteousness / faithfulness of God, keeping his promises and justly making sinners right with him (v17)

Vv16 & 17 are crucial for the rest of the letter

1vv18-3v20 will show why everyone desperately needs this gospel

3vv21-end will show how the gospel works

May God make us thankful, prayerful, eager, unashamed planners of gospel ministry.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Romans 9 - a handout

A first draft for a sermon I hope to preach on 21st August:

Romans 9 (p1135): But have God’s promises to Israel failed?

8:28-39 – The certainty of God’s promises and purposes

Paul imagines a heckler asking: “But what about God’s promises to and purposes for Israel? Have they failed? Can God really be trusted to do as he says?”

(Implied) Question 1: Has God’s word failed? (v6)

No, because God’s promise was always to a true spiritual Israel within biological Israel not to every physical descendant of Abraham (vv6-7)

God’s miraculous promise was of Isaac, not Ishmael (vv7-9)

God’s choice not works meant he “loved” Isaac not Esau (vv10-13)

Question 2: Is God unjust? (v14)

No, as God has said, he is free to have mercy on whom he wishes to have mercy and harden whom he wishes to harden (vv14-18)

Question 3: Why does God still blame us if it’s all a matter of his irresistible will? (v19)

We creatures are not qualified to quarrel with our Creator (v20)

God the Creator has rights over his creation (v21)

God acted consistently with his nature, showing great patience and mercy making his wrath, power and glory known (vv22-24)

All this is consistent with what God had promised in his word for the salvation of the Gentiles and a remnant of Israel (vv25-29)

Question 4: What then shall we say (in conclusion)? (v30)

The Gentile believers are right to trust in Christ and pursue a righteousness that is by faith not by Law or works (vv30-33)

God can be trusted to keep all his great promises of mercy open to all in Christ

Small Encouragements

Free PDFs to download

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Romans 8vv1-17; 28-end - some further jottings



1.     The ministry of God’s Spirit (vv1-17)

a.     The freedom of the Spirit (vv2-4)

b.     The mind of the Spirit (vv5-8)

c.      The indwelling of the Spirit (vv9-15)

d.     The witness of the Spirit (vv14-17

Ash – Romans 8 – Living Under Grace

How safe are we living under grace?

Neither sin nor suffering can defeat God’s grace

8vv1-17 – The basis of assurance in the ministry of the Spirit

8vv18-39 – Suffering with assurance of future glory

8v1 – no condemnation from the wrath of God

8v39 – no separation from the love of God

The Spirit is named 15x in vv1-17 and 4 more times in the rest of the chapter

8v1 refers back to 5vv12-21, condemnation 5v16, 18 – opposite of justification 5v16

The statement v1

The explanation v2

The explanation expanded v3

God’s purpose: why did God set us free? Vv4-6

The first way: life in the flesh vv7-8

The second way: life in the Spirit leading to resurrection vv9-11

Conclusion 1: the Christian’s obligation vv12-13

Conclusion 2: the Christian’s privilege vv14-17

V29 – foreknew – cf. Amos 3v2

Unbreakable ties to Christ vv31-39

1.     The love of God and the work of Christ vv31b-34

2.     The love of God and the love of Christ vv35-39

Vv35 and 39 repeat the word “separate”

Because Christians walk by the Spirit now, they may be sure they are heading for future glory.

To be a real Christian means:

1.     To be under new management (vv1-8)

2.     … who gives us new hope for our bodies (vv9-11)

3.     … and guarantees us a great inheritance (vv12-17)

To be a real Christian means:

1.     No condemnation, because of the sacrifice of God the Son (vv1-4)

2.     Resurrection hope, because of the indwelling of God the Spirit (vv5-11)

3.     Present assurance in the security of God the Father (vv12-17)

1.     Christian security rests on the already paid penalty for sin (vv31-34)

2.     … and this proves the unbreakable love of God in Christ (vv35-39)

Vaughan Roberts:


Christ took the penalty for sin

The Spirit breaks the power of sin


Two truths:

The Spirit has given the Christian a new heart (vv5-9)

The Spirit will give Christians a new body (vv10-11)

Two applications:

We can be holy

We can have hope


Two further consequences of the Spirit’s work in us:

The Spirit gives us a whole relationship to sin – we are now sin’s enemies (vv12-13)

The Spirit gives us a whole new relationship to God – we are now God’s children (vv14-17)


Romans 8:1-17; 28-end - a handout

To go with tomorrow's sermon and powerpoint:

Romans 8:1-17; 28-39 (page 1134)

v1, “Therefore…”

1vv1-15:              INTRODUCTION

1vv16-17:            Paul’s MAIN POINT: The Gospel / Good News

1v18-3v20:         Our PROBLEM: We need the gospel because of our sin and God’s

holy judgement

3vv21-31:            God’s SOLUTION: Justification through faith in Jesus who died in

our place

4-:                         Paul explains and defends his gospel and shows the

consequences and implications of it.

(8-:                        Living in the light of the gospel)

V1, no condemnation…. because vv2-3

(1) FLESH / sinful nature: Law powerless to save (v3); condemned (v3); death (v6); hostile to God, does not and cannot submit to God’s law (v7); cannot please God (v8); will die (v13); (slavery and fear – v15)

(2) Holy SPIRIT: Set free (v2); Life and peace (v6); belong to Christ (v9); spirit alive because of righteousness (v10); resurrection (v11); put sin to death, will live (v13); sons of God (v14-15); not slaves to fear (v15); heirs (v16)

Vv28-30: God’s certain plan:

Foreknew à predestined à called à justified à glorified

FOR US: GOD who loves us, chose us and gave his own Son for us and justifies us;

JESUS CHRIST who loves us and died and rose and reigns in heaven now and intercedes for us

AGAINST US: ??? Trouble? Hardship? Persecution? Famine? Nakedness? Danger? Sword? Death? Life? Angels? Demons? Present? Future? Powers? Height? Depth? Anything else?

Summary:           V1: No condemnation in Christ

V39: No separation from God’s love

Live confidently and gratefully in the light of the gospel, trusting in Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, putting to death the misdeeds of the body, knowing you are secure in God’s love