A Relevant Word from Charles Spurgeon

If confessors, reformers, martyrs, and covenanters had been recreant to the name and faith of Jesus, where would have been the churches of today? Must we not play the man as they did? If we do not, are we not censuring our fathers? It is very pretty, is it not, to read of Luther and his brave deeds? Of course, everybody admires Luther! Yes, yes; but you do not want anyone else to do the same today.

When you go to the Zoological Gardens you all admire the bear; but how would you like a bear at home, or a bear wandering loose about the streets? You tell me that it would be unbearable, and no doubt you are right. So, we admire a man who was firm in the faith, say four hundred years ago; the past ages are a sort of bear-pit or iron cage for him; but such a man today is a nuisance, and must be put down. Call him a narrow-minded bigot, or give him a worse name if you can think of one.

Yet imagine that in those ages past, Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, and their compeers had said, “The world is out of order; but if we try to set it right we shall only make a great row, and get ourselves into disgrace. Let us go to our chambers, put on our nightcaps, and sleep over the bad times, and perhaps when we wake up things will have grown better.” Such conduct on their part would have entailed upon us a heritage of error. Age after age would have gone down into the infernal deeps, and the pestiferous bogs of error would have swallowed all.

These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on. Note what we owe them, and let us pay to our sons the debt we owe our fathers. It is today as it was in the Reformers’ days. Decision in needed. Here is the day for the man, where is the man for the day? We who have had the gospel passed to us by martyr hands dare not trifle with it, nor sit by and hear it denied by traitors, who pretend to love it, but inwardly abhor every line of it. The faith I hold bears upon it marks of the blood of my ancestors.

C. H. Spurgeon, Barbed Arrows from the Quiver of C. H. Spurgeon

Luther on Going to the Source

An excerpt from “On the Councils and the Church,” Martin Luther:

“St. Bernard declares that he learned wisdom from the trees, such as oaks and pines, which were his teachers; that is, he conceived his ideas from Scripture and pondered them under the trees. He adds that he regards the holy fathers highly, but does not heed all their sayings, explaining why in the following parable: he would rather drink from the spring itself than from the brook, as do all men, who once they have a chance to drink from the spring forget about the brook, unless they use the brook to lead them to the spring. Thus Scripture, too, must remain master and judge, for when we follow the brooks too far, they lead us too far away from the spring, and lose both their taste and nourishment, until they lose themselves in the salty sea. . .”

Finding Favor in Proverbs

I’ve been studying the story of Joseph (and Judah) in recent weeks, and the theme of favor has stuck out to me. Joseph finds favor with his father, but not with his brothers. He finds favor with God, but not with his wicked mistress. And ultimately he finds favor with his superiors, even Pharaoh. So if finding favor is an important way God shapes our life, how do we find favor with God and man?

The book of Proverbs has much to say about this, so I’ve made a little chart with references to help.

Finding favor in general

Seek good (Pr. 11:27)

Whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor,
but evil comes to him who searches for it.

Have good sense (Pr. 13:15)

Good sense wins favor,
but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.

Finding favor with God

Remain in love and faithfulness (Pr. 3:3, 4)

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

Be humble (Pr. 3:34)

Toward the scorners he is scornful,
but to the humble he gives favor.

Find Wisdom (Pr 8:34, 35)

Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the LORD,

Be a good man (Pr. 12:2)

A good man obtains favor from the LORD,
but a man of evil devices he condemns.

Find a wife (Pr. 18:22)

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the LORD.

Finding favor with man

Remain in love and faithfulness (Pr. 3:3, 4)

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

Deal wisely (Pr. 14:35)

A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.

Rebuke a man (rather than flatter) (Pr. 28:23)

Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor
than he who flatters with his tongue.

The Righteousness of God: The Theme of Romans

The main thematic element of Romans is often thought to be “the righteousness of God,” or more broadly, the gospel. Scholars have vacillated on what exactly Paul means by “righteousness of God,” with some stating that it means God’s righteous deeds, others that it is a state of being, and shades in between. I would argue, along with C.K. Barrett, that this phrase encompasses both “the operation of his righteousness” and “his activity in doing right.[1]” It is with this understanding that we begin to examine the passage at hand.

Romans 1:16, 17 serve as both a transitional[2] and thematic statement for Paul in this great epistle. With it Paul moves seamlessly from the introductory content into the body of the letter, beginning essentially with a thesis statement that he then spends the next eleven chapters unpacking.

Whether intentionally or not, the passage from 1:16–3:21 is formed in a chiastic structure, which, when read with a focus on the the righteousness of God, can be outlined in this way:

   A: The gospel is the power of God to salvation, wherein the righteousness of God is revealed in faith (Ro 1:16, 17)

         B: The unrighteous are liable to judgment (1:18–2:11)

               C: Gentiles are liable to judgment (2:12–16)

               C’: Jews are liable to judgment (2:17–3:8)

         B’: All are unrighteous, both Jew and Gentile (3:9–20)

   A’: The righteousness of God is now manifest apart from the law through faith in Jesus Christ (3:21, 22a)

This structure both emphasizes and develops Paul’s thesis: God’s righteousness is revealed not through the law and its upholding, but through faith in Jesus Christ[3]. Paul has now established that all are unrighteous and will be judged—this judging is the righteousness of God which the Romans would expect; a judge who judges right rightly certainly must be a righteous judge[4].But in 3:23ff Paul recalibrates our understanding of God’s righteousness. He univocally states that God’s righteousness is demonstrated in the propitiation of his wrath by Jesus Christ, which led to the impossible: the justification of sinners[5].

The righteousness of God is the very content of the gospel, as Paul states in 1:17 where, after declaring the gospel as the power of God unto salvation, he says “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed” (Ro 1:17 ESV, emphasis added). It is both good and news. Who could deny the goodness of the fact that, though we were all lost to sin and unsaveable, God’s righteousness is that he justifies sinners?

If Romans is a theological treatise wrapped in an epistolic form[6], then surely Paul’s chief concern is to communicate accurately to the church in Rome that God’s righteousness is found only and wholly in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for us[7].





1. Barrett, C. K.. The Epistle to the Romans. Logos edition ed. Boston, MA: Hendrickson, 1991.

2. Carson, D. A., and Douglas J. Moo. An introduction to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992.

3. Linebaugh, Jonathan. NT504, Module 4 Lectures. “Romans.” Knox Theological Seminary.


[1] C.K. Barrett, The Epistle to the Romans (Boston: Hendrickson, 1991), 30.

[2] Jonathan Linebaugh,  NT504, Lecture 27.

[3] Ibid.

[4]Ibid. Dr. Linebaugh helpfully addresses the first-century understanding of righteousness to be a judge who judges right rightly.

[5]Jonathan Linebaugh,  NT504, Lecture 26

[6] D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 392.

[7] Jonathan Linebaugh, NT504, Lecture 27