“Blessed Assurance” ( Romans 8: 31-33, MOUNCE ) by Carley Evans


The most straightforward and simple statement of Fanny J. Crosby’s “Blessed Assurance” is Paul’s statement to the church at Rome:

31 What (tis) then (oun) shall we say (legō) in response to (pros) these (houtos) things? If (ei ·ho) God (theos) is for (hyper) us (hēmeis,) who (tis) can be against (kata) us (hēmeis?) 32 He (pheidomai) who (hos) did (pheidomai) not (ou) spare (pheidomai·ho) his (idios) own Son (hyios,) but (alla) delivered (paradidōmi) him (autos) up (paradidōmi) for (hyper) us (hēmeis) all (pas,) how (pōs) will he (charizomai) not (ouchi) also (kai,) along with (syn) him (autos,) graciously give (charizomai) us (hēmeis ·ho) all (pas) things? 33 Who (tis) will bring a charge (enkaleō) against (kata) God’s (theos) elect (eklektos?) It is God (theos) who (ho) justifies (dikaioō).

And if there is any doubt, look at Paul’s delineation of “these things.” The things that he (and we) are responding to are:

1) The glorious freedom of the children of God

2) Our adoption into the family of God as His children

3) The Holy Spirit helping us in our weaknesses and interceding for us, knowing God’s will for us

4) God using all things together for our good, so that we are conformed to the image of our Creator

5) Finally our predestination, calling, justification and ultimate glorification

Therefore Paul says there is now no condemnation.

“Wage versus Gift” ( Romans 6:23, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Here is the key difference ( beyond the obvious that our Adversary is evil and our Lord is good ) between Satan and God — Satan offers us a wage that we earn; God offers a gift that is free and that no amount of effort or good intention can earn.

Sin offers death, for wages; God offers us eternal life as a free gift, through Christ Jesus our Lord. 

“It Is Jesus Christ” ( Romans 8: 31-34, WYC ) by Carley Evans


running_water_CEE

“If God be for us, who is against us?

32 Which also spared not his own Son, but betook him for us all, how also gave he not to us all things with him?

33 Who shall accuse against the chosen men of God? It is God that justifieth,

34 who is it that condemneth? It is Jesus Christ that was dead, yea, the which rose again, the which is on the right half of God, and the which prayeth for us [the which and rose again, the which is on the right half of God, the which prayeth for us].”

I admit I’ve never noticed this before – that Paul asks, “Who accuses those whom God has chosen? Who is it that condemns?” And then immediately answers, “It is Jesus Christ, the one who died and rose again and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, who prays for us.”

Jesus condemns us by His death. If there was no condemnation, then He would not have needed to die.

And He justifies us by His resurrection. His resurrection destroys the condemnation.

Therefore, “if God be for us ( the One who was against us ), who now is against us?”

No one.

No one.

No one.

If this doesn’t make your heart soar, nothing ever will.

“His Own Choice” ( Romans 9: 8 – 23, Knox Bible ) by Carley Evans


Isaac Blessing Jacob, painting by Govert Flinc...
Isaac Blessing Jacob, painting by Govert Flinck (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam).

Does Paul mean to say that God chooses whom He blesses? Paul may as well say, “Of course I do!” Paul pulls out some ammunition from the old covenant scriptures. He mentions the clear division between Pharoa and Moses – one an object of God’s wrath, the other an object of His mercy. Paul briefly tells of Abraham’s two sons; he says, “You know them; you know how that all came down.” Then he fleshes out the story of Rebecca’s two sons: Jacob and Esau. He writes:

“God’s sonship is not for all those who are Abraham’s children by natural descent; it is only the children given to him as the result of God’s promise that are to be counted as his posterity. It was a promise God made, when he said, When this season comes round again, I will visit thee, and Sara shall have a son. 10 And not only she, but Rebecca too received a promise, when she bore two sons to the same husband, our father Isaac. 11 They had not yet been born; they had done nothing, good or evil; and already, so that God’s purpose might stand out clearly as his own choice, 12 with no action of theirs to account for it, nothing but his will, from whom the call came, she was told, The elder is to be the servant of the younger13 So it is that we read, I have been a friend to Jacob, and an enemy to Esau.”

Paul hears the protests. He realizes how this sounds to the human ear. God is unfair. How dare He pick and choose us like that. How dare He send some of us to eternal hell while rescuing only a few of us! Paul counters:

14 What does this mean? That God acts unjustly? That is not to be thought of. 15 I will shew pity, he tells Moses, on those whom I pity; I will shew mercy where I am merciful;16 the effect comes, then, from God’s mercy, not from man’s will, or man’s alacrity. 17 Pharao, too, is told in scripture, This is the very reason why I have made thee what thou art, so as to give proof, in thee, of my power, and to let my name be known all over the earth.18 Thus he shews mercy where it is his will, and where it is his will he hardens men’s hearts.19 Hereupon thou wilt ask, If that is so, how can he find fault with us, since there is no resisting his will? 20 Nay, but who art thou, friend, to bandy words with God? Is the pot to ask the potter, Why hast thou fashioned me thus?21 Is not the potter free to do what he will with the clay, using the same lump to make two objects, one for noble and one for ignoble use? 22 It may be that God has borne, long and patiently, with those who are the objects of his vengeance, fit only for destruction, meaning to give proof of that vengeance, and display his power at last;23 meaning also to display, in those who are the objects of his mercy, how rich is the glory he bestows, that glory for which he has destined them.

Do you believe in destiny? Do you know God’s sovereign power? Do you protest against His own choices? When you recognize and accept God’s mercy in the light of Romans 9 and John 1 and Ephesians 1, to name a few, then you may find yourself melting away, or as Job puts it so well, “repenting in dust and ashes.”

“Discerning God’s Will” ( Romans 12: 1, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Paul warns Gentiles not to “be conceited;” not “to be unaware of this mystery:

“A partial hardening has come to Israel until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Liberator will come from Zion; He will turn away godlessness from Jacob. And this will be My covenant with them when I take away their sins.’ (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of the patriarchs, since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable. As you once disobeyed God, but now have received mercy through their disobedience, so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you, so that they also now may receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience, so that He may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:25-32)

Because of this same mystery, which amounts to God’s extraordinary mercies and His irrevocable grace, Paul urges us “to present [our] bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is [our] spiritual worship.” And although Paul mentions our physical bodies, he moves directly to our minds, speaking of our transformation by renewing them. We renew our minds via the Word of God, fellowship with one another, and prayer. As our minds are renewed, “[we] are able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

How many times have you wondered what the will of God is for you? His specific will for your life is that you renew your mind, accept the “measure of faith” given to you, and use the natural and spiritual gifts He has bestowed. Paul says not to think more highly of yourself than you ought. He sets out with a list of God’s will for you. Here are a few choice ones:

“Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

“Pursue hospitality.” (Romans 12: 13)

“Be persistent in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

“Do not be proud.” (Romans 12:16)

“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

“Be in agreement with one another.” (Romans 12:16)

“Do not avenge yourself.” (Romans 12:19)

“Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16)

“Live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

 

“Mutually Strong” ( Romans 1: 12, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong — that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

So writes Paul to the church in Rome “who are loved by God and called to be saints.” (Romans 1:7) Paul testifies how he prays for them “at all times” and how pleased he is “because [their] faith is being reported all over the world.” (Romans 1:9,8) He is “eager to preach the gospel” to those “who are at Rome.” (Romans 1:15) Paul here implies that in Rome he will find “both Greeks and non-Greeks, both the wise and the foolish.” (Romans 1:14)

The gospel — the good news — is meant to be encouraging! The good news is encouraging to both the Greek and non-Greek, to the Jew and the Gentile, to the wise and the foolish. Therefore, Paul is “not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God.” (Romans 1:16) This power emanating from God saves; His power first saves the Jew, then the Gentile. This power reveals a righteousness also emanating from God, “a righteousness that is by faith first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous live by faith.'” (Romans 1:17) First to last, beginning to end — the power of God provides faith, salvation, and righteousness; and this is the good news!

The gospel – the good news – is meant to be strengthening! The power of God encourages and strengthens “all who believe.” (Romans 3:22) No matter whether we are male or female, Black or White, Brown or Red; no matter our national origin or ethnic descent, we have all “sinned and [fallen] short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace.” (Romans 3:23)

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” (Romans 3:27-28)

“Let God Be True” ( Romans 3: 4, NIV ) by Carley Evans


God is faithful. He brings “a righteousness from [Himself], apart from law.” This righteousness “comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21,22) All people “sin and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) All people “are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that comes by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:24)

God is faithful. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4)

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All turn away.” (Romans 3:10-11,12) “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:18)

So, what point is Paul making? He’s saying, “Let God be true; every man is a liar!” “Every mouth is silenced and the whole world is held accountable to God. Therefore no one is declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans 3:19,20)

Now we are not left “conscious of sin.” Rather than leaving us drenched in guilt, God provides us a simple albeit costly solution. God “justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)

Therefore, says Paul, boasting is excluded. Pride in self is inappropriate for “we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” (Romans 3:28)

Let God be true. Let God be faithful.

“The Night Is Nearly Over” ( Romans 13:12, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Paul encourages us with these words, “The night is nearly over;” “our salvation is nearer than when we first believed;” (Romans 13:11) and “the daylight is near.” Because the night is almost finished, and the light is dawning upon us, Paul exhorts us to “discard the deeds of darkness” since it is fading away and “put on the armor of light” since it is shining already and soon is to be in full glow. We are to “make no plans” to remain in darkness, but are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 13:14) We are to actively avoid “quarreling and jealousy.” (Romans 13:13)

Notice Paul exhorts us to put off arguing which creates barriers between we who are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Paul says, “Let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in [our] brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13) “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues.” (Romans 14:1) “Who are [we] to criticize another’s household slave? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand. For the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)

Therefore, Paul encourages to be accepting of one another in Christ for we are all members of the same body, who is our Lord.

“The Grace Of One Man” ( Romans 5: 15, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“How much more do those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ,” writes Paul to the church at Rome. (Romans 5:17) “How much more does the grace of God and the gift overflow to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:15) “Through one righteous act there is life-giving justification for everyone.” (Romans 5:18) “Through one man’s obedience the many are made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) “Grace is multiplied even more.” (Romans 5:20) “Grace reigns through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

Whose obedience does Paul highlight? Certainly not Adam’s or Eve’s. Certainly not mine or yours. Rather, Paul writes of one man’s obedience, of the one man, Jesus Christ who obeyed God the Father completely. Through Jesus’ obedience is “life-giving justification.” Through Jesus’ grace, “the many are made righteous.” Jesus’ grace overflows to us as does the gift of His own righteousness.

“What shall we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6:1) “What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6:15) “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He does not even spare His own Son but offers Him up for us all; how does He not grant also with Him us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.” (Romans 8:31-33)

“Joy” ( Romans 5: 1, ESV ) by Carley Evans


Have you not heard? Do you not know? — We’ve been “justified by faith.” And what’s more — because “we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” How has this justification occurred? Our justification and therefore our peace with God has been secured “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We stand in this grace. And in this grace which we have obtained through faith, “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)

Therefore, we stand in faith, in grace — justified fully before God the Father — in total peace with Him. We stand in joy because we have this hope of glory within us.

Sometimes, I believe we underestimate the state of joy in which we stand. Either we do not recognize it, or we fail to grasp its fullness. Now someone might say, ‘well, then how is that being in a state of joy?’ Of course it’s not. Joy comes with first knowing the weight of our sin and then recognizing the lifting of that weight. And joy is sustained by refusing to allow that weight of guilt to return to us, knowing that Christ carried that weight on the tree at Calvary. Like a garment, He has taken our sin from us and literally nailed it to the cross.

Taking it down, putting it back onto ourselves is the ultimate betrayal of grace. Have you not heard? Do you not know? “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. They who wait for the Lord renew their strength; they mount up with wings like eagles; they run and are not weary; they walk and do not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-29,31)