Why Did Paul Use the Example of Abraham to Exhibit Grace?

It’s no wonder that the apostle Paul, when reaching for an Old Testament example of grace, went straight for Abraham.  After writing three chapters about God’s unconditional love through Jesus (Romans 1:18-3:30), Paul summed up his argument in one short phrase: “[God] justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5).  How do we know this?  Just look at Abraham (Romans 4:3-5)

– Sprinkle, Preston; Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us; David C. Cook Publishing; Colorado Springs, CO; Kindle version; copyright 2014; page 54

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The Clearest Indication that We Have Idolized Ourselves

Yet at its heart sin is the eclipse of thankfulness toward God (Romans 1:21).  Why thankfulness?  Because rather than seeing ourselves as self-creators who choose our own identity and purpose, the biblical worldview tells us that we are on the receiving end of our existence.  We are beholden to someone else.  Our life is a gift from God, not our own achievement.  And our ingratitude is the clearest expression that we have idolized ourselves.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 89

What the Gospel is Not

The power of our activism, campaigns, movements and strategies cannot forgive sins or raise the dead.  “The gospel…is the power of God for salvation,” and, with Paul we have no reason to be ashamed of it (Romans 1:16).  That is why phrases like “living the gospel,” “being the gospel,” and “being partners with Jesus in his redemption of the world” are dangerous distortions of the biblical message of good news.  The gospel is not about what we have done or are called to do, but the announcement of G0d’s saving work in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 4:5).

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 39

On What Basis Shall We Be Judged?

Surely God will judge the world on the basis of whether we have done our best with the light we have been given.  But Paul’s whole point in these first three chapters (of Romans) is to convince us that regardless of how much light we have been given, we always do the same thing with it.  We suppress the truth, whether it is the light of nature (God’s existence and moral will known to unbelieving Gentiles) or the light of grace (God’s revelation of the gospel in the Scriptures).  There is enough revelation to render a guilty verdict.  Regardless of our own evaluation before God’s bar no one is good and no one seeks God.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 59-60

Sin Is Not Necessarily Loving Bad Things

The great church father Augustine pointed out that sin is not necessarily loving bad things, but loving good things inordinately.  In other words, it is turning God’s gifts into idols.  It is our “enlightening” way of fulfilling the apostles description of ungrateful living in Romans 1:22-25.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 45-46

The Ultimate Crisis Facing Us

We may have problems in our marriage, child rearing, stress at work, low self-esteem, and worries about our health or financial market.  However, the ultimate crisis facing us is summarized in Romans 1:18.

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 39

So We Saunter Through the Carnival, On Our Way to Nowhere

So we saunter through the carnival, on our way to nowhere.  Like tourists, we are not really seeking the truth as much as we are spectators of new experiences, identities, images and styles that have been marketed to us in the giant mall of Western consumerism.  Indeed, we have become “futile in [our] thinking, and [our] foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, [we] became fools” (Romans 1:21-22).

– Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 34