You might recognize the phrase “Lost Horizon”. It is the title of a 1933 novel by James Hilton which was turned into a movie of the same name, directed by Frank Capra. It is a story about the utopia, Shangri-La. It is a fictional Paradise on Earth, where people age extremely slowly. The Gospel tells us about another place or state in which we will never age, it calls it eternal life.Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 13. Found Horizon.
In one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Princess bride”, Vizzini, the Sicilian, keeps using the exclamation, “inconceivable”, over and over again. And finally, Iñigo Montoya, the swordsman, tells him: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 12. God knows
Have you ever had to take the long way around to get to your destination? Maybe it was because there was construction going on in the normal route or just because at that time of day the traffic was awful in some parts of the route. Whatever the reason, you finally got where you were going. But to someone who doesn’t have that context, if he looked on a map at the path you took, he’d be scratching his head.Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 11. Living by the Spirit
I was taught a long time ago that whenever I have to write a paper or a report, I should leave writing the Introduction for the end. Why? Because often it takes going through the whole analysis and argument to figure out exactly what I have accomplished. I don’t really know what my story is until I have told it. After I am done, then I can write an Introduction that prepares the reader to see what I mean, even foreshadow the concepts that I want that reader to get. And, certainly, then I can write a conclusion.Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 10. The (interim) conclusion
Jesus said that whoever sins enslaves himself to sin. That means that we enslave ourselves by our own choice, a choice we make using our free will. But how free were we in the first place, if the choice we make is to be enslaved? Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it?Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 9 Exercising our freedom
N. T. Wright is fond of saying that Jesus’ coming finally taught us and enabled us to be truly human. To be what we were created to be. I have reached the conclusion that Jesus’ revelation to Paul finally taught him what it really meant to be a Jew, chosen by God to bless the whole world.Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 8 The consequence of the forgiveness of our sins.
I recently read an excellent paper by E. B. Howell, entitled “Saint Paul and the Greek World”. It is from the Journal Greece and Rome, March, 1964, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 7-29. In it, he makes a comment in passing that the recorded speech we have that Paul gave at the Areopagus in Acts 21 must be an extremely abbreviated version of the whole thing. At that time, and to that audience, the method of address would have followed all the rules of oratory they were expecting, including extensive and detailed proofs of the points argued. I guess it is a good think that Luke anticipated our love of Cliff notes.Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 7: The Promise was to all Abraham’s seed.
Have you ever heard the idiom, “getting down to brass tacks”? It is an Americanism dating from the 19th century. It means to get down to the essentials. Let’s forget all the peripheral arguments, and maybe even the niceties, and let’s talk about what really matters. When Jesus wanted to get the Pharisees down to brass tacks, he brought up Abraham.Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 6: Then how are we saved?
Remember the conversation Jesus had with his disciples after the rich young ruler went away downcast? He told them it is nearly impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And the disciples’ reaction was, “Then who can be saved?” That was an honest question, and it revealed the preconceptions of their worldview. Paul is now dealing with such preconceptions head on.Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 5: Then who can be saved?
Once his Jewish audience catches where Paul is going, all sorts of knee-jerk reactions can occur. After all, through centuries of oppression and exile, it has been Torah that has kept the Jewish people together. Putting the Gentiles on the same footing as the Jews, even to calling them true Jews, is the same as saying, Torah is irrelevant. Or is it?Read More about Through the letter to the Romans – Part 4: The purpose of the Law.