“Our place is on our faces before Him in adoration” by John Stott

“It is of great importance to note from Romans 1–11 that theology (our belief about God) and doxology (our worship of God) should never be separated.

On the one hand, there can be no doxology without theology. It is not possible to worship an unknown god. All true worship is a response to the self-revelation of God in Christ and Scripture, and arises from our reflection on who He is and what He has done.

It was the tremendous truths of Romans 1–11 which provoked Paul’s outburst of praise. The worship of God is evoked, informed and inspired by the vision of God.

Worship without theology is bound to degenerate into idolatry. Hence the indispensable place of Scripture in both public worship and private devotion. It is the Word of God which calls forth the worship of God.

On the other hand, there should be no theology without doxology. There is something fundamentally flawed about a purely academic interest in God.

God is not an appropriate object for cool, critical, detached, scientific observation and evaluation. No, the true knowledge of God will always lead us to worship, as it did Paul. Our place is on our faces before Him in adoration.

As I believe Bishop Handley Moule said at the end of the last century, we must ‘beware equally of an undevotional theology and of an untheological devotion’.”

–John R. W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today; Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 311–312.

“If we would know Christ, we must seek Him in the Scriptures” by John Calvin

“This passage teaches us that if we would know Christ, we must seek Him in the Scriptures. Anyone who imagines Christ as he will, gets nothing but a mere blur.

So, we must first hold that Christ is known rightly nowhere but in Scripture. If this be so, our chief purpose in reading the Scriptures must be to arrive at a right knowledge of Christ.

Whoever turns aside from this aim, even though he wear himself out with learning all his life, will never arrive at truth; for what wisdom can we attain apart from the wisdom of God?

Moreover, since we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, He declares that our zeal in this matter shall not be in vain; for the Father Himself testifies that in them He shall certainly reveal His Son to us.

Many are deprived of this blessing, because they neglect reading the Scriptures, or do it cursorily and superficially. But it deserves utmost attention that Christ Himself commands us to probe deeply into this hidden treasure.

It was sheer apathy that led the Jews, who had the law in their very hands, to abhor Christ. The glory of God shone brightly in Moses, but they put up a veil and darkened it.

In this place, Scripture means obviously the Old Testament. It is not true that Christ appears first in the gospel.

It is rather that after the witness of the Law and the Prophets, He appeared in the gospel for everyone to see.”

–John Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries, Ed. Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 105. Commenting on John 5:39.

“Understanding Romans” by John Calvin

“There are commentaries on this epistle by many ancient and many modern writers. Indeed they could not have labored at a better task; because when anyone understands this epistle, the way is open before him to an understanding of the whole of Scripture.”

–John Calvin, “Epistle To Simon Grynaeus On The Commentary On Romans,” Calvin: Commentaries, Ed. Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 74.

“The unspeakable and incomparable gift of the Father” by John Murray

“If the Father did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up to the agony and shame of Calvary, how could He possibly fail to bring to fruition the end contemplated in such sacrifice.

The greatest gift of the Father, the most precious donation given to us, was not things. It was not calling, nor justification, nor even glorification.

It is not even the security with which the apostle concludes his peroration (Rom. 8:39). These are favours dispensed in the fulfilment of God’s gracious design.

But the unspeakable and incomparable gift is the giving up of His own Son. So great is that gift, so marvellous are its implications, so far-reaching its consequences that all graces of lesser proportion are certain of free bestowment.

Whether the word ‘also’ is tied to ‘with Him’ or to the term ‘freely give’, the significance of ‘with Him’ must be appreciated. Christ is represented as given to us—the giving up for us is to be construed as a gift to us.

Since He is the supreme expression and embodiment of free gift and since His being given over by the Father is the supreme demonstration of the Father’s love, every other grace must follow upon and with the possession of Christ.”

–John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (vol. 1; The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1968), 326.

“It was right there in the text” by D.A. Carson

“Paul assesses the significance of Israel and the Sinai covenant within the larger biblical narrative. It is this essentially salvation-historical reading of Genesis that enables him to come within a whisker of treating the Sinai covenant as a parenthesis: the law’s most important function is to bring Israel, across time, to Christ—and to bring others, too, insofar as the ‘law’ is found among those ‘without the law.’

Here, then, too, we obtain a glimpse of how something could be simultaneously long hidden / eventually revealed and long prophesied / eventually fulfilled. It was right there in the text (provided one reads the Scriptures with careful respect for the significance of the historical sequence), even though, transparently, this was not how it was read by Paul the Pharisee.

Doubtless it took the Damascus road Christophany to make Saul of Tarsus recognize that his estimate of Jesus was wrong: Jesus could not be written off as a (literally) God-damned malefactor if in fact His glorious resurrection proved He was vindicated, and so the controlling paradigm of his reading of the Old Testament had to change.

But when it changed, Paul wanted his hearers and readers to understand that the Old Testament, rightly read in its salvation-historical structure, led to Christ.

In other words, as far as Paul was concerned the gospel he preached was announced in advance in the Scriptures, and was fulfilled in the events surrounding the coming, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—even if this gospel had long been hidden, and was now revealed in those events and thus in the gospel Paul preached—the gospel revealed, indeed, through the prophetic writings.”

–D.A. Carson, “Mystery and Fulfillment: Toward a More Comprehensive Paradigm of Paul’s Understanding of the Old and the New,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Paradoxes of Paul (ed. Peter T. O’Brien and Mark A. Seifrid; vol. 2, 181st ed.; Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament; Grand Rapids, MI; Tübingen: Baker Academic; Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 2: 427–428.

“Our hope lies in His mercy” by Martin Luther

“Paul describes this faith in most significant words, namely, when we cry Abba! Father! For in the spirit of fear it is not possible to cry, for we can scarcely open our mouth or mumble. But faith expands the heart, the emotions, and the voice, but fear tightens up all these things and restricts them, as our own experience amply testifies.

Fear does not say Abba, but rather it hates and flees from the Father as from an enemy and mutters against Him as a tyrant. For those people who are in the spirit of fear and not in the spirit of adoption do not taste how sweet the Lord is (cf. Ps. 34:8; 1 Peter 2:3), but rather He appears to them as harsh and hard, and in their heart they call Him a virtual tyrant, although with their mouth they call Him Father, just as that slave in the Gospel who when he had hidden his master’s money said to him: ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, etc.’ (Matt. 25:24).

Such are the people who are displeased that God accepts no man’s merits but has free mercy. Thus they say: ‘Thou has commanded the impossible, Thou hast not given grace but only knowledge; this I still have, and I give it back to you.’

Rather they ought to rejoice because He has not put our hope in ourselves but only in Himself, in His mercy. All who are of this mind are secretly saying in their hearts: ‘God acts in a tyrannical manner, He is not a Father, but an enemy,’ which is also true.

But they do not know that one must agree with this enemy and that thus, and only thus, He becomes a friend and a Father. For He will not come around to our way of thinking and be changed for us, so that we may become His friends and sons.”

–Martin Luther, Luther’s Works: Lectures on Romans, Volume 25 (St. Louis: Concordia, 1972), 358-359. Luther is commenting on Romans 8:15-16.

[HT: Mark Dever]

“Faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing” by Martin Luther

“Faith is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1). It kills the old Adam and makes altogether different people, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Spirit.

Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. And so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are good works to do, but before the question rises, it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them.

He who does not these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words about faith and good works.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God’s grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures.

And this is the work of the Holy Spirit in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace.

And thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate burning and shining from fire. Beware, therefore, of your own false notions and of the idle talkers, who would be wise enough to make decisions about faith and good works, and yet are the greatest fools.

Therefore, pray to God to work faith in you. Else you will remain forever without faith, whatever you think or do.”

–Martin Luther, Commentary on Romans, Trans. J. Theodore Mueller (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1954), xvii.

“A living, bold trust in God’s grace” by Martin Luther

“Faith is not what some people think it is. Their human dream is a delusion. Because they observe that faith is not followed by good works or a better life, they fall into error, even though they speak and hear much about faith. ‘Faith is not enough,’ they say, ‘You must do good works, you must be pious to be saved.’

They think that, when you hear the gospel, you start working, creating by your own strength a thankful heart which says, ‘I believe.’ That is what they think true faith is. But, because this is a human idea, a dream, the heart never learns anything from it, so it does nothing and reform doesn’t come from this ‘faith,’ either.

Instead, faith is a divine work in us which changes us and gives new birth from God. (John 1:13). It kills the Old Adam and makes us completely different people. It changes our hearts, our spirits, our thoughts and all our powers. It brings the Holy Spirit with it.

Yes, it is a living, creative, active and powerful thing, this faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing.

Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever. He stumbles around and looks for faith and good works, even though he does not know what faith or good works are. Yet he gossips and chatters about faith and good works with many words.

Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures.

The Holy Spirit makes this happen through faith. Because of faith, you freely, willingly and joyfully do good to everyone, serve everyone, suffer all kinds of things, love and praise the God who has shown you such grace. Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!

Therefore, watch out for your own false ideas and guard against good-for-nothing gossips, who think they’re smart enough to define faith and works, but really are the greatest of fools. Ask God to work faith in you, or you will remain forever without faith, no matter what you wish, say or can do.”

–Martin Luther, “An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, Ed. Timothy Lull (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2005), 101.

“If you squeeze Romans…” by N.T. Wright

“Romans is suffused with resurrection. Squeeze this letter at any point, and resurrection spills out; hold it up to the light, and you can see Easter sparkling all the way through.”

–N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 241.