Sunday, April 18, 2021

April 18 - Romans 3:21-25a


Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

April 18, 2021

Opening Prayer

Psalm 119 

81 My soul longs for your salvation;
    I hope in your word.
82 My eyes long for your promise;
    I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83 For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
    yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84 How long must your servant endure?
    When will you judge those who persecute me?
85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;
    they do not live according to your law.
86 All your commandments are sure;
    they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
87 They have almost made an end of me on earth,
    but I have not forsaken your precepts.
88 In your steadfast love give me life,
    that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Romans 3:21-25a

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Remember Romans 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul moved to different ways that people view themselves as righteous, but now he starts to dig into what is the “righteousness of God.”

Manifested apart from the law – The Greek reads, “But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been manifested.”

This order emphasizes – “apart from the law”

-        Separate from our efforts or our own ability to identify righteousness.

-        Non-performative

-        This is pure Gospel (Romans 1:16 – power of God for salvation for the one who believes).

Manifested – caused to be seen, made known.

-        Perfect Passive Verb – it happened in the past and the impact continues now.

-        This is not something that we know by our natural knowledge.

o   1 Corinthians 2:14 - The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

o   Psalm 119 – The Psalmist prays for God to: teach me, open my eyes, do not hide, give me life according to, make me understand, lead me, incline my heart, turn my eyes

o   The focus of these requests is God’s: Law (Torah), testimonies, ways, precepts, statutes, commandments, righteous rules.

The Law and the Prophets bear witness to it

-        Promises of the Savior/Christ

-        Commitment to Forgiveness

-        Called by Grace

-        Saved by Faith

-        God is the Savior (without merit or worthiness of Israel)

The Righteousness of God that is apart from the law is:

-        Received through faith in Jesus Christ.

-        For all who believe.

o   Genesis 12:3 – “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

o   Isaiah 42:6 – “I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.”

o   Isaiah 60:3 – “All nations shall come to your light.”

o   Micah 4:1 & 2 - It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Mic. 4:1-2 ESV)

There is no distinction.

-        Formerly Israel was God’s chosen and beloved

-        Even this was for the sake of drawing all nations.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

-        What is sin?

o   Greek – archery term – to miss the mark

o   Hebrew – go wrong, make a mistake, miss the way

o   1 John 3 – lawlessness

o   Anything that violates God’s objective standards of righteousness of God’s law.

§  Isaiah 5:20

§  Heidelberg Disputation Thesis 21: A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls a thing what it actually is.

o   Any deviation from God’s truth – which stands as an objective standard and is also revealed in the Law and the Prophets – a.k.a. God’s Word.

-        Fall short – in an active sense this verb means to come too late or miss. In a passive sense (which the text has) it means come short of, or come behind in.

-        Glory of God – in this context: the full righteousness and holiness of God.

Taking issue with word order again.

Rom 3:24 – Being justified (Present Passive Participle) freely/without cost/without reason/undeservedly in His grace through the redemption/deliverance/payment of ransom/release that is in Christ Jesus

-        This is hammering home that the righteousness of God is something completely alien to us. It is extra nos – apart from us – as well as apart from the Law.

Whom God put forth – this is God’s plan (Gen. 3:15)

As a propitiation – hilasterion – literally a place of forgiveness

-        This word is used 2X in the N.T., and 13X in the O.T.

-        14X it means the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. God’s footstool. The place where God and humanity meet, and where humanity finds mercy.

o   Exodus 25:22

-        God’s purpose is that Jesus’ presence is the place where we meet Him

o   In forgiveness.

o   In worship.

o   In person.

Through faith in His blood.

-        The Incarnation

-        The Crucifixion

-        The Atonement

-        The Lord’s Supper


Jesus’ blood covers over our sin.

-        Exodus 24:1-8

-        Leviticus 16 (esp. 14-15)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

April 11, 2021 - Romans 3:5-20


Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

April 11, 2021

Opening Prayer

Psalm 119 

73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
    give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,

    because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,

    and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me

    according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;

    for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,

    because they have wronged me with falsehood;
    as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,

    that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,

    that I may not be put to shame!



-        What is a god?

-        “A god means that from which we are to expect all good and in which we are to take refuge in all distress.” – The Large Catechism, I, 2

 This is the root sin: all sin flows from disobedience to God and not following his will/ways.

-        The explanations to the Ten Commandments all begin with a callback to the explanation of the Fist Commandment – “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.” So each explanation after that begins, “We should fear and love God so that …”

-        This is not necessarily something we actively pursue (Coarse Idolatry). Often it is subtle and seen in our fears, insecurities, priorities, and source of sense of wellbeing.

o   Mammon – finances

o   Politics

o   Medicine

o   Technology

-        Notice that these are all good gifts from God. The problem comes in when these:

o   Become more authoritative than God and his word

§  Reconfigure morality

§  Redefine our creatureliness

§  Often through Materialism or Gnosticism

o   Become our source of hope

o   Point us back to ourselves as our own saviors (self-justification)

-        This is rooted in original sin which corrupts our nature.

Romans 3:5-8

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

-        What is at the heart of this argument?

o   Unrighteousness stands as an opposite to righteousness.

o   Our unrighteous behavior shows the rightness of God’s verdict upon humanity.

o   Our unrighteousness displays the righteousness of God as he deals with us in judgement.

o   Therefore, our unrighteousness serves a good purpose which is to God’s advantage – that we display his righteousness.

o   So, in response, shouldn’t we conclude that, since our unrighteousness is to God’s advantage, it is unjust (and a form of unrighteousness) for God to deal with us in wrath because his response to our unrighteousness brings him glory, honor, etc. as his righteousness is revealed?

-        This is, in some ways, like the “God made me this way” argument. It tries to make God the cause of our sin.

-        By no means! No way! It cannot happen!

-        How then will God judge the world?

o   If he is the cause of unrighteousness he can no longer prevail because our judgement of him is true – He is unjust in his judgement.

o   When is Judgement Day?

-        If through my lie …?

o   This is a more pointed statement in the same line of argument.

o   Karl Barth: So the truth, the revelation of God is exalted, is triumphant by the means of the human lie, from which it is distinguished so clearly by the justification of believers? … Does my lie therefore serve that “becoming exceedingly great” (Rom. 5:20), that brilliant light of grace, and consequently the glory of God? Why must I then be exposes to the judgement? Are they not right then, are they not consistent who draw the conclusion: “let us do evil that good may come of it?”

-        Paul’s response to this who line of argument is exceedingly short. Their condemnation is just.

o   Barth: Why is [Paul] so brief? Because fools, and consistent fools in particular can and should be answered briefly. And in that long question everything is foolish, everything is wrong.

o   Impenitence, self-justification, judging God – these do not bring us forgiveness, reconciliation or righteousness.

o   The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

§  Learning to live under God’s grace, providence, and sanctification.

§  Learning to live Psalm 111.

Romans 3:9-20

What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off?[b] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.” (1)
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.” (2)
“The venom of asps is under their lips.” (3)
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (4)
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; (5)
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.” (6)
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (7)

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being[c] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.


1.     1.Psalm 14:1-3 & 53:1-3

2.     2.Psalm 5:9

3.     3.Psalm 140:3

4.     4.Psalm 10:7 (LXX)

5.     5.Proverbs 1:16

6.     6.Isaiah 59:7-8

a.      Luke 1:79

7.     7.Psalm 36:1


We need to understand the right relationship of the Old and New Testaments; or more simply, the whole Scriptures.

-        A story about Pastor Donovan Riley’s tattoo.

-        John 5:39

-        13 times in the Gospels – to fulfill the word/Scriptures.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Resurrection Cookies

Resurrection Cookies

We make these cookies every year on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. It isn't so much that we like the cookies - some of us do, and others don't - but it is an opportunity for us to remember Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection together. We find it to be a meaningful family tradition. 

You will need - 

  • 1 c pecans
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 3 egg whites - you will want to separate these before you begin, especially if you are making the cookies with little children. 

You will also need - 

  • Bible - or you can preprint the verses. 
  • Ziploc style bag
  • Rolling pin or wooden muddler - the original directions call for a wooden spoon, but we've found we want something a little heavier.
  • Mixing bowls
  • Mixer - we use a KitchenAid stand mixer, but we've used an electric hand mixer in the past. (It might be possible to whisk it by hand, but it would be a bit of work!) 
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Masking Tape


Preheat the oven to 300F.

The Pecans Remind Us That Jesus Was Beaten

Start by reading John 19:1-3 - Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. (ESV)

Put the pecans in the baggie, and beat them with the rolling pin - or whatever you choose to beat them with. You want to break them into very small pieces, but you must take some care or you will destroy the bag and have a big mess. 

Set the broken pecans aside.

The Vinegar Reminds Us That Jesus Was Given Vinegar to Drink

Put a little vinegar in the bottle cap and let everyone smell it. 

Read John 19:28-30 - After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (ESV)

Add 1 tsp. vinegar to the mixing bowl. 

The Egg Whites Remind Us of Life

The eggs represent life. We are reminded that Jesus gave his life so that we might have forgiveness for our sins and receive eternal life. 

Read John 10:10-11 - The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (ESV)

The Salt Reminds Us of the Tears of Those Who Mourned Jesus' Death

Place a little salt in everyone's hands and let them taste it. Remind everyone that our tears are salty, and there were people who cried as Jesus suffered and died. 

Read Luke 23:27 - And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him.

The Sugar Reminds Us That the Message of God's Love and Forgiveness is Sweet

Let everyone taste the sugar like you did with the salt. Remind everyone that while our tears of sadness are salty, the good news of God's love for us in Jesus is sweet. 

Read Psalm 34:8 - Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (ESV)

Read John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (ESV)

The Color White Reminds of God's Forgiveness 

Ask the children what color the egg whites are. At this point they will be translucent or clear. Beat the egg whites until they form firm peaks. It will take 5-10 min.

Read Isaiah 1:18 - “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool." (ESV)

Read Revelation 7:13-15 - Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. (ESV)

The Pecans Remind Us of Rocky Ground at Jesus' Tomb

Fold the broken nuts into the egg whites. (Some people use mini chocolate chips here, too.)

Line your cookie tray with parchment paper. 

Use a teaspoon (not a measuring spoon) to drop the batter onto the lined cookie tray. Each mound reminds us of the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was placed. 

Read Matthew 27:57-60 - When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. (ESV)

The Oven Reminds Us of the Tomb

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven off. (That's right turn it off. There is plenty of residual heat to cook the cookies.) 

Seal the oven with a piece of masking tape. (Each child will probably want to add their own piece of tape.) 

Read Matthew 27:62-66 - The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. (ESV)

Waiting Reminds Us That Jesus' Followers Waited in Sadness

Leave the cookies in the oven overnight. (We used to try to time this to be the last thing we did in the day. Sometimes that was a little stressful with getting everyone ready for the next morning.) 

Remind everyone that Jesus' followers were sad and most of them left Jesus so that he was very alone in the tomb. They knew the tomb was sealed and they had to leave him there. 

Read John 16:20 & 22 - Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. ... So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (ESV)

Opening the Oven Reminds Us that Jesus Rose from the Dead

On Easter morning take the cookies out of the oven and give everyone a cookie. If the recipe worked, when you bite into the cookies they should be hollow. Remind everyone that on Easter morning Jesus' tomb was empty.

Read Matthew 28:1-9 - Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

Celebrate Jesus' Resurrection with the Easter Greeting

Remind everyone that there is a traditional greeting for Easter, and that they will probably hear the pastor say "Alleluia! Christ is risen!" And when he says that they can all say, "He is risen indeed! Alleluia!" 

Children may ask what "alleluia" means. If they do remind them that it means, "Praise the Lord!"

Monday, March 29, 2021

March 28, 2021 - Romans 3:1-4


Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

March 28, 2021

Opening Prayer

Psalm 119 

65 You have dealt well with your servant,
    Lord, according to your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
    for I believe in your commandments.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
    but now I keep your word.
68 You are good and do good;
    teach me your statutes.
69 The insolent smear me with lies,
    but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
70 their heart is unfeeling like fat,
    but I delight in your law.
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,
    that I might learn your statutes.
72 The law of your mouth is better to me
    than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Romans 3:1-4

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

“That you may be justified in your words,
                                                            and prevail when you are judged.” (ESV)

 What advantage did the Jews have?

-        The value of circumcision is not in the physical procedure. Paul is referring to the covenant – the relationship of God and his chosen people, the children of Abraham.

-        “Much and in every way.” He only focuses on one here – “first”.

-        They were entrusted with the oracles of God.

o   Passive / receptive

o   Oracles – wise sayings, often predictive

o   Wisdom – Psalm 119 – Law to shape our lives.

o   Promises – God’s testimonies, deeds, and oaths. Particularly regarding the Messiah / Savior.

What advantage do Christians have in today’s world?

-        Much and in every way.

-        First – 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

-        We have the Word Made Flesh Who Dwelt Among Us -  and dwells among us by His Spirit.

What if some were unfaithful? Does their unfaithfulness nullify the faithfulness of God?

-        By no means! – No way! – It cannot happen!

-        This is why our focus is best placed on God rather than ourselves.

o   Racism, Critical Race Theory, and the Gospel

o   Other gods within the church – finance, politics, people (pastors), the world (how the community views us and how that impacts our decisions).

o   God remains faithful

§  Promises forgiveness, presence, Holy Spirit, comfort, grace, resurrection, everlasting life, etc.

§  Knowing the faithfulness of God through His faithfulness to Israel.

·       Chose

·       Egyptian Slavery

·       Promised Land

·       Monarchy and Prophets

·       Apostasy and Exile

·       Exilic Faith and Return

§  “Let God be true, and all men liars.”

·       Truth … again.

“That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

-        Psalm 51:4 – “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (ESV)

-        Translation is always the first step of interpretation.

-        ESV - … so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgement.

o   This is an excellent translation of the Hebrew text.

-        Paul quotes the Greek translation of the Psalm – which is also an excellent translation of the Hebrew text.

o   Justified in your words (same)

o   You will overcome, be victorious, prevail, in your judgement (an infinitive verb).

§  Does this mean that God is the one proclaiming judgement? I have sinned and done evil in his sight, and therefore he is clean/vindicated when judges me as a sinner.

§  Does this mean that God is the one receiving judgement? I have sinned and done evil in his sight, and therefore he is clean/vindicated when I complain that his judgement is unfair.

§  Yes?

o   Do people judge God?

o   What is the result of judging God?