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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Study guide John- Romans

John 1:14, Part 1

God Lived Among Us

December 15, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: John 1:14, John 1:1–3, and John 6:51
Topic: The Birth of Christ

What is Christmas? In this lab, John Piper walks through the familiar words of John 1 to explain the unexplainable mystery of God becoming a man for us. What does it mean that Jesus was God? And what does it mean that he is man? And why? Come and see the Word become flesh.

Principle for Bible Reading

When it comes to major holidays that we celebrate (like Christmas), look for a key text or two (or more) that will help you understand its true meaning and significance in God’s mind. In this way, we make sure we celebrate in a way that brings glory to God.

Study Questions

1.      What do you learn about the Word from John 1:14 in John 1:1–3?


2.      If someone suggested that Jesus was the product of conception between God and Mary, how might you lovingly correct them? How would you use John 1:1–3 to explain yourself?


3.      Read John 6:51. What does this verse tells us about Christmas? Why did the Son of God put on flesh and become a man?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:33)

Who Is the Word? (01:33–04:13)

•      The Word existed as far back as you can go (“in the beginning”). (John 1:1)
•      “The Word was with God, and he was God.” (John 1:1)
•      “All things were made through him …” (John 1:14)
•      Jehovah’s Witness think Jesus was God’s first creation, the first thing made. John writes that last line to deny that claim.
•      The Son made everything in the category of “made.” Therefore, he could not himself be made.

The Son of God (04:13–06:46)

•      “Son” is used 60 times in the Gospel of John. (John 1:14)
•      Christians know that “God + Mary = Son of God” is blasphemy.
•      The Son is the Word, and so he is God. (John 1:1–3)
•      The Son of God is not the product of conception with Mary. He existed thousands of years before Mary was even born.
•      The Father has always had a perfect image of himself in the Son. He has always had someone with whom to relate. (John 1:1)

The Word Became Flesh (06:46–09:22)

•      This God became flesh. (John 1:14)
•      This means he was not flesh before this moment, and that he entered into the world in the flesh as a man at one point in history. (John 1:14)
•      The point of putting on flesh was so that he could die. (John 6:51)
•      Now, he will always be a man. He raised his body when he ascended. (John 2:19–21)
•      Paul says the same thing about Jesus and about us in Philippians 3:20–21. We will have a (new and glorious) body forever.

And He Dwelt Among Us (09:22–10:35)

•      You might think that “dwelt” means for a brief time, that Jesus came and lived with us for a little while. (John 1:14)
•      No, “dwelt among us” means he drew near to us. It’s about proximity. (John 1:14)
•      Christmas is about God becoming man so that he might die so that he might be near to his people.

Related Resources

•      O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (article)
•      Christmas at the Piper Home (interview)
•      “In the Beginning Was the Word” (sermon on John 1:14)

John 1:14, Part 2

Glory Full of Grace and Truth

December 17, 2015
by John Piper
Topics: The Glory of God, The Birth of Christ

“We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” In this lab, John Piper helps us understand the glory we see at Christmas, defining glory and pulling apart the marriage of grace and truth. He also explains why we’re not at a disadvantage at all two thousand years later.

Principle for Bible Reading

As you read the Bible, try and think of objections other people might raise (even if you personally do not struggle with that particular objection). For example, in this lab, John wrestles with whether we’re at a historical disadvantage to those who saw Jesus in the flesh. Objections will force you to search the text more carefully, and you will often see more than you would otherwise.

Study Questions

1.      What do we learn about the glory revealed at Christmas in John 1:14? How would you put what you see in your own words?


2.      Why might someone think, after reading this verse, that we’re at a disadvantage to the eyewitnesses during Jesus’s life? Where would you take them to change their mind? Now, read 2 Corinthians 4:4 and John 17:20 for help.


3.      How would you define the glory of God? What words would you use to help a friend understand glory?

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–03:52)

1.      God is the Word.
2.      The Word became flesh (a man).
3.      The Word dwelt among us (drew near to us).

A Definition for Glory (03:52–05:15)

•      “… We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (John 1:14)
•      If you have seen Jesus, you have seen God’s glory.
•      God’s glory is God’s transcendent beauty or radiance. (John 1:14)

The Light of the Gospel of the Glory (05:15–07:21)

•      You might object that we’re not there to see him in the flesh. You might think we’re at a disadvantage.
•      Satan blinds unbelievers from seeing “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
•      In the narrated events of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry, called “gospel,” you see God’s glory. (John 1:14)
•      Jesus prayed not only for those who saw him in the flesh, but for “those who will believe in me through the word.” (John 17:20)
•      It’s through the Word that John expects us to see the glory of God.

Our Advantage Today (07:21–09:06)

•      We are not at a disadvantage compared to the eyewitnesses.
•      Judas saw everything Jesus did, and he didn’t see any glory.
•      The crowds saw him, and they wanted to crucify him.
•      We see the whole story as we read an inspired Book that is much more rich and full even than experiencing it firsthand.

Full of Grace and Truth (09:06–10:13)

•      And the glory we see in the Word is full of grace and truth.
•      This glory is the measure of all truth. If you want to see anything for it really is, bring it into the light of the glory of God.
•      And in all of the truth and reality, wonder of wonders, God’s heart is gracious toward us.

What Is Christmas? (10:13–12:24)

1.      The Word is God.
2.      The Word (God) became the God-man.
3.      The Word came near and dwelt among us.
4.      The Word reveals his divine glory to us.
5.      This glory gives truth to the ignorant and deceived, and it gives grace to the guilty.

Related Resources

•      Christmas Happened Because It Is Fitting (article)
•      What Christmas Is All About (interview)
•      “A Big God for Little People: Seven Christmas Eve Meditations” (sermon on Luke 2:1–20)

John 15:12–15, Part 1

Love Lays Down His Life

July 2, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 5:6–8 and John 15:12–15
Topic: The Love of God
Series: Friendship with Jesus

Principle for Bible Reading

What does it mean to be a friend of Jesus? In this lab, John Piper begins a series of three labs focused on friendship with Jesus. Jesus loves you with the greatest possible love and paid the ultimate price to have you—a friendship like no other.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:22)

Friends or Enemies? (01:22–05:16)

1.      Why does Jesus say “friends” and not enemies in John 15:13. Isn’t loving enemies a greater love than loving friends?
2.      The love of God increases as the object of his love goes down in merit (Romans 5:8). His love is greatest when the object is least deserving.
3.      So why does Jesus say something different in John 15:13?

The Greatest Love (05:16–07:54)

1.      Jesus’ point in John 15:12–15 is not about the difference between love for friends and love for enemies.
2.      The two ends of the spectrum here are, for instance, giving a friend a cup of water and sacrificing your own life for them. (John 15:13)
3.      Greater love for a friend makes greater sacrifices for the one it loves.
4.      Jesus loves you with the greatest possible love. He made the greatest possible sacrifice—the ultimate price—for you.

Study Questions

1.      Why would Jesus say “friends” in John 15:13, and not “enemies”? Would not a love for one’s enemies exceed love for a friend?


2.      Read Romans 5:6–8. What point is Paul making in these three verses, and how might it relate to John 15:12–15?


3.      If Jesus is making a different point in John 15:13 than Paul is in Romans 5:6–8, what is it? What unique point is Jesus making about friendship?

Related Resources

•      Three Tips on Being a Friend of Sinners (article)
•      Love Jesus over Human Approval (interview)
•      Being Loved by Christ (sermon on John 13:1)

John 15:12–15, Part 2

Are You a Friend of Jesus?

July 7, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: John 15:12–15
Topic: Sanctification & Growth
Series: Friendship with Jesus

Principle for Bible Reading

Are you a friend of Jesus? How do you know? In this lab, John Piper looks again at John 15 to see what kind of confidence we can have that Jesus loves us and died for our sins. He looks closely at one two-letter word that makes all the difference.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:50)

Condition or Evidence? (00:50–05:00)

“You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). What does this “if” mean? One kind of “if” communicates Christianity. Another would be heresy.

1.      One kind of “if” would communicate a condition, meaning one thing precedes and brings about the effect. e.g. If you are strong and courageous, then the Marine corp will want you.
2.      Another kind communicates an effect, meaning one thing follows and confirms a cause. e.g. If your white blood cell count is low, then must (already) be in remission.

Christianity: Proven Free Friendship (05:00–09:15)

1.      Conditional “If” (Heresy)—If (and only if) you do what Jesus commands, then you will be a friend of Jesus and his death will count for you. (John 15:14)
2.      Evidential “If” (Christianity)—If you do what Jesus commands, then you confirm that you are already his friend, and that his death paid for and changed you. (John 15:14)
3.      John 15:12 confirms that the “if” in John 15:14 is describing a confirming effect, and not a condition. Jesus loved us before we loved one another. His love came first and causes our love. We do not earn his love and friendship with our love for one another.

Study Questions

1.      What does the “if” mean in John 15:14? Explain the “if” clause first as a conditional statement: If A happens, then B happens. Now, explain the “if” clause as an evidence statement: If A happens, then B must have happened.


2.      Which interpretation seems correct in John 15:14, and why?


3.      How does John 15:12 change or confirm your answer to the previous question? How does it clarify the meaning of “if” in John 15:14?

Related Resources

•      Three Ways Our Deeds Relate to Our Salvation (article)
•      Can I Confess the Name of Jesus and Be Unsaved? (interview)
•      If Anyone Loves Me He Will Keep My Word (sermon on John 14:15–24)

John 15:12–15, Part 3

We Are Friends, Not Slaves

July 9, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: John 15:12–15
Topic: The Love of God
Series: Friendship with Jesus

Principle for Bible Reading

If you believe in, follow, and treasure Jesus Christ, he calls you his friend. Last time, we asked how we know if we are his friends. In this lab, John Piper reveals five one-sided ways Jesus befriends and loves us that we could never reciprocate.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:17)

A Unique and Glorious Friendship (02:17–03:57)

1.      The main point of this argument is John 15:12. John 15:13–15 serve to support that verse, and to highlight the wonders of friendship with Jesus.
2.      The potential problem with talking about friendship with Jesus is that he demands obedience. (John 15:14)
3.      This does not mean our relationship with Jesus is not a real friendship. It simply means that it’s a unique friendship, in many ways—at least five—a one-sided friendship.

Five One-Sided Wonders of Friendship with Jesus (03:57–10:14)

1.      We are loved with the greatest love. (John 15:13)
2.      Christ laid down his life for us. (John 15:13)
3.      We obey. (John 15:14)
4.      We are informed (John 15:15). We are taught everything we need to obey him gladly, unlike slaves.
5.      We are welcomed into his family. (John 15:15)

Illustration: Love Your Enemies (10:14–11:57)

Study Questions

1.      What would you argue is the main point of John 15:12–15? What verse or point do all the other verses support?


2.      Jesus highlights some one-sided aspects (some asymmetries) to our friendship with him. How many can you point out in John 15:12–15?


3.      Both a friend (John 15:14) and a slave obey, so help someone understand the difference between the two in Jesus’s words here in John 15:12–15.

Related Resources

•      The Intensity of Christ’s Love and the Intentionality of His Death (article)
•      You Have Been Greatly Loved (interview)
•      Being Loved by Christ (sermon on John 13:1)

Romans 1:18–23

What Can Be Known About God

May 5, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 1:18–23
Topic: Salvation

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible says that the whole world already knows God, but also says that much of the world does not know him. What does it mean to know God? And how does someone know him, and yet not know him? In this lab, John Piper explores this difficult, but critical tension and commissions us into the world to speak the gospel.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:47)

Some Do Not Know God (00:47–01:52)

1.      The world does not know God. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
2.      The Gentiles did not know God before they believed and were freed from slavery to false gods. (Galatians 4:8)
3.      Again, the Gentiles did not know God, and therefore cannot control their passions, like lust. (1 Thessalonians 4:4–5)
4.      Therefore, we know that some do not know God, at least not in a real, saving way.

Everyone in the World Knows God (01:52–05:05)

1.      Everyone suppresses the truth. In order to suppress the truth, you have to know it first. (Romans 1:18)
2.      What can be known about God is plain to everyone in the world. (Romans 1:19)
3.      God has revealed himself to all in what he has made (“God has shown it to them”). (Romans 1:19)
4.      “They (all) knew God.” (Romans 1:21)
5.      In order to exchange the glory of God for other things (“for images”), we must know him, at least in some way. (Romans 1:23)

All Are Without Excuse (05:05–06:09)

1.      With all of this knowledge, we did not honor him or give him thanks. (Romans 1:21)
2.      We suppressed this knowledge of God and traded the knowledge of his glory for the glory of the things he created. (Romans 1:18
3.      Therefore, we are all without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

They Knew and Did Not Know: An Illustration (06:09–10:36)

1.      We were all designed with a capacity to know God.
2.      Because of our sin, we tried to take other things and use them to fill the cavities inside of us created for God.
3.      Nothing fits in the space inside of each of us made for God.
4.      Everyone knows God. They know what they’re experiencing now apart from God is not satisfying.
5.      The Holy Spirit, by the word of God, needs to come and clean out the alternatives and fill us again with a knowledge of God through the gospel.

Our Task (10:36–11:33)

Everyone we meet has a knowledge of God, but they are eternally restless until they know God through Jesus Christ. Our task is to speak the gospel everywhere we can, and pray that the Holy Spirit would take that message and put it into the places for which it is perfectly designed in every human soul, so that they would see and believe.

Study Questions

1.      Read Romans 1:18–23. Now read 1 Corinthians 1:21, Galatians 4:8, and 1 Thessalonians 4:4–5. Do you see any inconsistencies between the two sets of verses? If so, how might you explain them?


2.      In Romans 1:18–23, how do we know that everyone in the world knows God? How many times does Paul reinforce that reality in these verses?


3.      How would you explain to someone that the whole world knows God (Romans 1:21), and yet that some do not know him (1 Corinthians 1:21)? Can you think of a creative way to help someone understand this difficult truth?

Related Resources

•      Letter to a 12-Year-Old Girl About the Eternal Destiny of Those Who Have Not Heard the Gospel (article)
•      Is Jesus the Only Way to Be Saved? (interview)
•      Proud People Don’t Say Thanks (sermon on Romans 1:16–23)

Romans 7:22–8:2

No Condemnation

October 9, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 7:22–8:2
Topic: Justification
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

In your Bible reading, an author will often compare two things. It’s important to stop and study everything you learn about how those two things are similar and different. In this lab, Pastor John looks at our slavery to sin and freedom in Christ.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:16)

Observations (01:16–06:21)

1.      Two laws are waging war against each other inside of Paul.
2.      The law of God does its work in a person’s mind (Romans 7:22).
3.      The law of sin works in a person’s members to cause them to sin (Romans 7:23).
4.      In spite of the war within us, a great victory has been won by God through Jesus (Romans 7:25).
5.      Our delight in God’s law gives evidence that the victory is ours (Romans 7:22), that is, that we are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

Freedom and Slavery? (06:21–10:25)

How can someone be “free in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2) and “serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25)?

1.      Notice the first person voice (“I”) throughout these verses. This is Paul.
2.      Paul says he “delights” in the law of God and that he “serves the law of God.”
3.      The climax of this passage says that Paul really does serve the law of God, even though his flesh still serves the law of sin (Romans 7:25).

You Are Free (10:25–12:01)

1.      You have been decisively set free. The battle has been won.
2.      You have been finally or ultimately set free. It is certain. It will happen.
3.      You are progressively being set free. You are really being set free, but it will not be finished until later.

Summary (12:01–13:12)

1.      There is, therefore, no condemnation for us. Even though the battle is still being waged within us, Christ has already won the victory for us.
2.      The freedom we have in Christ is decisive, final, and progressive. We don’t experience it completely now, but it is real for us now and we will have it fully one day.

Study Questions

1.      Paul talks about different laws at work in us in these verses. What are the differences between them?


2.      What is the purpose of the “therefore” in Romans 8:1? What is it referring to in the previous verses?


3.      How can someone be “free in Christ” (Romans 8:2) and still “serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25)?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      When Does God Become 100% For Us? (article)
•      What Is Christian Freedom? (interview)
•      No Condemnation in Christ Jesus, Part 1 & Part 2 (sermons on Romans 8:1)

Romans 8

The Greatest Chapter

October 7, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8
Topic: The Bible
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Pastor John introduces a new series focused on Romans 8. First, he spends a couple minutes helping you make the most of Look at the Book. Then, he gives you seven reasons why Romans 8 is the greatest chapter in all the Bible.

Outline

Introduction (00:00–01:04)

Make the Most of Look at the Book (01:04–03:14)

•      Think of what John is doing (in Look at the Book) as illustration, not demonstration.
•      Think of what you are doing as adaptation, not replication.

Key Principles (03:14–04:52)

1.      Ask good questions.
2.      Notice the relationships between sentences or phrases.
3.      Consider the meaning of individual words.
4.      See through the details of a passage to the bigger point.

Why ‘The Greatest Chapter’? (04:52–08:14)

1.      There is no chapter that more deeply or fully deals with the brokenness of the physical universe, and how it got that way, and what will become of it.
2.      There is no chapter that expresses with more clarity or power the infallible and unbreakable linkages in our salvation from predestination to glorification.
3.      There is no other chapter that combines the intercession of the Holy Spirit in us, with the intercession of the Son for us, in the service of the never-failing love of God the Father over us.
4.      There is no chapter that more explicitly or repeatedly juxtaposes the necessary horrors of our suffering with the utterly assured grandeur of our glory—that moves with such force through suffering to a crescendo of unshakable hope in the love of God.
5.      There is no chapter that deals more directly and tenderly with our struggle to know that we are the children of God, opening to us the witness of the Holy Spirit.
6.      There is no chapter with a more sustained litany of privileges, securities, and assurances to hold us firmly in the keeping love of God.
7.      There is no chapter in which so many glorious truths are marshaled to help us obey only one implied command: Live by the Spirit, not the flesh, and so fulfill the whole law—that is, love.

Piper’s Prayer (08:14–09:08)

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      John Piper sermons on Romans 8
•      The Solid Logic of Heaven Holds (chapel message)
•      Five Points Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace (book)

Romans 8:1–3

Free in Christ Jesus

October 14, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:1–3
Topic: Identity in Christ
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Some phrases are used so often in the Bible that we need to stop and do the work of understanding what they really mean. Paul uses the phrase “in Christ Jesus” 47 times in his letters. Pastor John looks at several other passages to better understand these important words in Romans 8:1–2.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:38)

“In Christ Jesus” (00:38–02:32)

1.      In Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation (a legal verdict) (Romans 8:1).
2.      In Christ Jesus, there is power for transformation (Romans 8:2).

Application: How Do You Get Into Christ? (02:32–08:52)

If these amazing things are true of people who are “in Christ Jesus,” how does someone experience that? How do we find ourselves in Christ?

1.      1 Corinthians 1:30—God does it. He unites us with Christ Jesus.
2.      Romans 6:3–5—Baptism is a picture of being in Christ.
3.      Colossians 2:12, Galatians 2:20—Faith is the most basic description of the experience of being united with Christ.
4.      Ephesians 2:8; Romans 6:17—Faith is a gift from God.

Summary (08:52–10:18)

1.      It is God who unites us with Christ Jesus.
2.      God unites us to Christ by giving us the gift of faith.
3.      There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (legal verdict).
4.      The Spirit empowers those in Christ Jesus to live differently (transformation).
5.      All of this is pictured in the act of baptism.

Study Questions

1.      From Romans 8:1–2, what does it mean to be in Christ Jesus? What benefits are there for those who are found in him? Can you see more than one?


2.      Look at 1 Corinthians 1:30, Colossians 2:12, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:8, and Romans 6:17. What else do you learn about the phrase, “in Christ Jesus”?


3.      Read Romans 6:3–5. What role does baptism play in our being found in Christ Jesus?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      The Stupendous Reality of Being “in Christ Jesus” (article)
•      Christian Life As Union with Christ (interview)
•      No Condemnation in Christ Jesus, One Body in Christ (sermon on Romans 8:1–2)

Romans 8:1–4

The Spirit Set You Free

October 16, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:1–4
Topic: Justification
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

The word “for” is one of the most common in Paul’s writing. His letters often hang on what that little connecting word means, and there are at least a couple of options in each case. In this lab, Pastor John explains the relationship between our justification and sanctification by focusing on those three letters: f-o-r.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–01:57)

1.      In Christ Jesus, we have received the legal verdict: no condemnation (Romans 8:1).
2.      In Christ Jesus, we have received power to live transformed lives (Romans 8:2).

Understanding the Grammar: For (01:57–04:32)

There are two potential ways Romans 8:2 is grounding (“For” or “Because”) Romans 8:1:

1.      Cause—The second idea or activity produced the first. For example, “I am hungry for I skipped breakfast.”
2.      Evidence—The second idea or activity proves the first. For example, “I am hungry for my stomach is growling.”

Defining the “For” (02:32–09:08)

So there are two option for the “for” at the beginning of Romans 8:2:

1.      Cause—We are justified (“no condemnation”) because of our sanctification (“free in Christ Jesus”). Sanctification produces justification.
2.      Evidence—It is clear we are justified because of our sanctification. Sanctification proves justification.

Here is the evidence from the context that the “for” is communicating evidence, and not cause or basis:

1.      Romans 8:3—God condemned our sin in Jesus. He accomplished our justification by sending his Son, not by our righteousness.
2.      Romans 8:4—My walking according to the Spirit (sanctification) is a result (“in order that”) of Jesus having died for my sins (justification).

Study Questions

1.      How does Romans 8:2 relate to Romans 8:1? What does the “for” at the beginning of Romans 8:2 mean? What are the options?


2.      What does Romans 8:1–4 tell us about the relationship between out justification (being set right with God) and our sanctification (being set free from sin in our lives)?


3.      How would you explain the difference between a ground that is a cause or basis and a ground that is an evidence?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Three Ways Our Deeds Relate to Our Salvation (article)
•      Does Justification-Centered Sanctification Lead to Antinomianism? (interview)
•      The Liberating Law of the Spirit of Life (sermon on Romans 8:1–2)

Romans 8:3

God Sent His Own Son

October 21, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:3
Topic: The Death of Christ
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 8:3 holds some of the most precious truths of Christianity. Paul explains how God remove our guilt and end our condemnation. Pastor John slows down to dig into the nitty-gritty details of our good news.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:45)

Observations (00:45–04:48)

1.      Incarnation—Jesus was sent to take on flesh (cf. Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:4–7; Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
2.      In these verses, Jesus is God (God’s own Son) and he is without sin (in the “likeness” of sin). These two things qualify him to be condemned in our place.
3.      Substitution—Whose sin was condemned at the cross? Not Jesus’. It was our sin. Jesus died in our place.

What About the Law? (04:48–08:21)

It says God did what the law could not do. Why could the law not condemn sin?

1.      The law is very effective at condemning sin.
2.      The law always and only gets a verdict of guilty.
3.      But God can condemn sin in the Son. Only God can get a not guilty verdict.
4.      Jesus was not God’s plan B. The law was meant to lead to Christ.
5.      In love, God rescued us from God.

Study Questions

1.      From Romans 8:3, how did God remove our condemnation? How could that be enough to pay for all our sin?


2.      In Romans 8:3, what could the law not do? Why could it not do that? What does it mean that the law was “weakened by the flesh”?


3.      What is the significance of the word “likeness” in Romans 8:3? What is Paul trying to communicate about Jesus?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      What God Requires, Christ Provides (article)
•      How Did God Make Evil Commit Suicide At the Cross? (interview)
•      What the Law Could Not Do, God Did Sending Christ (sermon on Romans 8:3)

Romans 8:3–4

What the Law Could Not Do

October 28, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:3–4
Topic: Justification
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Purpose clauses (“in order that”) tell us why God does what he does. In this lab, Pastor John looks at why God gave us the law and why he sent his Son to die on the cross. All along, he asks how the Christian should relate to the law after Christ has come.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:00)

How should Christians relate to the law now that Christ has come?

Observations (01:00–03:38)

1.      The righteous requirement of the law is love.
2.      What the law could not do Christ did in order to fulfill the law. The law could not fulfill the law.
3.      When Christ died, we were empowered to fulfill the law.
4.      We fulfill the law when we walk not according to the flesh.

Christ’s Coming and Law-Keeping (03:38–06:31)

What does the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus mean for the Christian’s relationship to God and his law?

Read Romans 7:4–6.

You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.… We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:4–6)

1.      We died to the law and have been released from it.
2.      We have a living relationship with Jesus and belong to him.
3.      We belong to Jesus in order that we would bear fruit (love).
4.      So, now, we serve God by the Spirit, not by law-keeping.
5.      The law (“the written code”) cannot fulfill the law.

Conclusion (06:31–09:15)

1.      What the law could not do, God did by sending his Son Jesus.
2.      The law is fulfilled by dying to the law. Law-keeping can no longer be the means of law-fulfilling.
3.      We fulfill the law by looking to Christ—his death and resurrection—and depending on his Spirit.

Study Questions

1.      From Romans 8:3–4, what can the law not do? How does God accomplish what the law cannot do?


2.      In Romans 8:3–4 and Romans 7:4–6, why did Christ die and rise again (“in order that”)?


3.      What is the alternative to trying to fulfill the law by law-keeping?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      If You Want to Love, You Must Die to the Law (article)
•      Are Christians Under the 10 Commandments? (interview)
•      Why the Law Was Given (sermon)

Romans 8:3–4

Love Fulfills the Law

October 23, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:3–4 and Romans 13:8–10
Topic: Sanctification & Growth
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 8:3–4 says Christ died so that the law would be fulfilled in us. What does it mean for the law to be fulfilled? And how is it fulfilled in us? In this lab, John Piper tackles these two critical questions.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:33)

Two questions:

1.      How is the righteous requirement of the law fulfilled?
2.      What is the righteous requirement of the law?

How Is the Law Fulfilled? (02:33–03:42)

This fulfillment is not talking about the perfect, legal fulfillment of all that the law requires of us that is—the righteousness that is imputed to us (Romans 5:18–19). The fulfillment in Romans 8:4 is “in us,” not “for us.” This fulfillment happens in us as we walk by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What Is the Requirement of the Law? (03:42–06:14)

The righteous requirement of the law is love, which fulfills the whole law.

Read Romans 13:8–10:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1.      The law is summed up in love (Romans 13:9).
2.      That summary of the law (love) fulfills the law when it is lived out in the life of the believer (Romans 13:8).
3.      Confirmation: Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Application (06:14–08:46)

1.      In Romans 8:3, God provides his Son so that we would not be condemned. Because of him, we are declared holy (justification).
2.      In Romans 8:4, God provides the Spirit to change us and make us more holy—that is, more loving (sanctification).
3.      The critical, unchangeable order of these two works of God means: “The only sin that can be defeated in your life by the power of the Spirit is a forgiven sin.”

Study Questions

1.      From Romans 8:3–4, how is the law fulfilled? Is there more than one way it is fulfilled?


2.      In Romans 8:4, why does Paul say the law is fulfilled “in” us? What are other options he might have used instead? Why “in” here?


3.      Look at Romans 13:8–10. How do those verses help us define “the righteous requirement of the law” (Romans 8:4)?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Love That Will Complete You (article)
•      Are Christians Called to Obey the Law? (interview)
•      What Does It Mean to Fulfill the Law in Romans 8:3–4 (sermon on Romans 8:3–4)

Romans 8:5–6

Set Your Mind on the Spirit

October 30, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:5–6
Topic: The Power & Effects of Sin
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible often presents two ways for us to live. In Romans 8:5–6, Paul describes two different lives, two different mindsets, and two different conditions. This lab carefully traces the serious differences in order to cause us to look to Christ.

Outline

Recap/Introduction (00:00–01:34)

What the law could not do, God did. He did two things:

1.      He condemned our sin in Christ’s body, so that we are rendered not guilty.
2.      He fulfills the law (“the righteous requirement of the law”) in us by the Spirit.

Romans 8:5: Where Is Your Mind? (01:34–04:49)

1.      A life lived “according” to the flesh produces a mind “set on” (given over to, preferring, enjoying, etc.) the flesh. And it is the same with a life lived according to the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
2.      The flesh is anything minus (without) God, or anything not done in reliance on him or for his glory (cf. Matthew 16:23).
3.      The things of God/the Spirit are anything in life seen in relationship to God—to their beginning with God, being sustained by God, and existing for the glory of God.

Romans 8:6: Why (“For”) Is Your Mind? (04:49–07:49)

1.      To set the mind on the things of the flesh is to reveal the presence of the power of death (Romans 8:6).
2.      To set the mind on the things of the Spirit is to reveal the presence of the power of life.
3.      The life lived according to the flesh inevitably produces a mind given over to the things of the flesh, because it reveals the presence of death (deadness to God and to spiritual things). Therefore, that mind and life default to the things of the flesh.
4.      The life lived according to the Spirit inevitably enjoys/prefers/focuses on the things of God or the Spirit, because it reveals the presence of life and peace (an awakening to God and to spiritual things).

Summary (07:49–08:47)

1.      The law could not fulfill the law (it could not cancel our sin or produce love) (Romans 8:3–4).
2.      Because the flesh is the presence of death in us (Romans 8:6).
3.      That death is a deadness to the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:6).
4.      Therefore, we are left loving and preferring the things of the flesh (Romans 8:5).

Study Questions

1.      What might it mean to set your mind on something (the things of the flesh or on the things of the Spirit)? What are some synonyms for “set one’s mind on”?


2.      Explain the “For” at the beginning of Romans 8:6. How is verse 6 grounding (“for” or “because”) Romans 8:5?


3.      In your own words, summarize the major things you have learned from Romans 8:3–6 so far in the series.

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      How to Get Your Mind Back on Track (article)
•      How Do We Walk by the Spirit? (interview)
•      How the Spirit Does What the Law Could Not Do (sermon)

Romans 8:7–8

The Mind Against God Is Dead

November 4, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:7–8
Topic: The Power & Effects of Sin
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 8:5–8 gets down to the bottom of our sin, untangling the reasons we rebel against God. Pastor John highlights the meaning of two “for” statements to show the relationship between sin, hostility to God, death, and worldliness.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:09)

Observations (01:09–06:08)

1.      The mind set on the flesh is hostile to God (Romans 8:7). That is, we resist God, don’t like him. We prefer ourselves to God.
2.      We are all hostile to God by nature.
3.      Our hostility to God expresses itself in an unwillingness to submit to him and his word.
4.      Apart from the saving work of the Holy Spirit, people only displease God. They are in bondage to self.

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. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Summary (06:08–08:28)

1.      We are all born in the flesh. That is our nature.
2.      Therefore, we have an inability to please God (because we were born in bondage to sin).
3.      That inability expresses itself in rebellion against God.
4.      That rebellion is revealed by a deadness to spiritual things—that is, to the things of God.
5.      That deadness produces a mind focused on the things of the flesh—that is, on the world minus God.

Study Questions

1.      Does the “For” at the beginning of Romans 8:7 communicate cause or evidence for what comes before? What about the “for” in the middle of the verse?


2.      Read 1 Corinthians 2:14. How does that verse help you understand what Paul is saying in Romans 8:7–8?


3.      Take these four ideas in Romans 8:5–8, and—using Paul’s argument—describe how they relate to one another: sin, hostility to God, death, and worldliness (setting on our minds on the things of the flesh).

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Whatever Is Not from Faith Is Sin—Really? (article)
•      How Should I Think About My Failures? (interview)
•      Why and How We Walk According to the Spirit (sermon on Romans 8:5–9)

Romans 8:9

You Are Not Your Own

November 11, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:9
Topic: Identity in Christ
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

What does it mean to belong to Jesus? As we study a passage slowly verse by verse, sometimes we need to step back and look for help from other places in the Bible. There are other verses that will help us see more in the one before us.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:57)

Survey of the New Testament (00:57–03:55)

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

“For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men.” (1 Corinthians 7:22–23)

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)

“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:29)

“All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)

“ “In Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:22–23)

We Belong to Jesus (03:55–06:29)

What does it mean that we belong to Jesus?

1.      We can make God look glorious. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)
2.      We are not slaves of anyone or anything. (1 Corinthians 7:22–23)
3.      We are dead to ruling and damning passions. (Galatians 5:24)
4.      We are heirs of Abraham and all the promises God made to him. (Galatians 3:29)
5.      All things are ours in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)
6.      We will be raised from the dead with a resurrection body. (1 Corinthians 15:22–23)

Study Questions

1.      Before going to look at other passages, try to describe what it means that we belong to Jesus. How would you describe what it means to someone who doesn’t understand?


2.      Then, read 1 Corinthians 3:21–23; 6:19–20; 7:22–23; and 15:22–23, and Galatians 3:29 and 5:24. What do these parallel passages tell us about what it means to belong to Jesus? Summarize the point of each verse as it relates to our belonging to him.


3.      Can you think of other verses that help us understand what it means to belong to Christ? How would you find them? Are there other ways the Bible talks about our belonging to him?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      We Are Not Our Own: On God, Brittany Maynard, and Physician-Assisted Suicide (article)
•      What’s the Main Reason Jesus Died? (interview)
•      You Were Bought with a Price: Glorify God with Your Bodies (sermon on 1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

Romans 8:9

The Spirit Lives in You

November 6, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:9
Topic: The Holy Spirit
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Jesus bought us with his death and then sealed us with his Spirit. In this lab, John Piper unfolds the glory of the Trinity in our salvation and the role of the Spirit in showing that we belong to Jesus.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:45)

If the Spirit Lives in You (00:45–03:28)

1.      To be in the flesh is to be in the sway and control of the flesh.
2.      To be in the Spirit is to be in the sway and control of the Spirit.
3.      The way we come under the sway of the Spirit is that the Spirit comes and lives in us (“if the Spirit dwells in you”).
4.      If the Spirit lives in you, you are freed from the flesh and all its consequences.

Belonging to Jesus (03:28–07:03)

Paul shifts from “the Spirit of God” to “the Spirit on Christ,” because he wants to highlight what it means to belong to Jesus.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

1.      You have the Spirit of God or you do not. (Romans 8:9)
2.      If you do not have the Spirit of God, you do not have the Spirit of Christ (because it is the same Spirit).
3.      And if you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you do not belong to him.
4.      Therefore, the indwelling Spirit is the seal of belonging to Christ (Romans 8:9), and that belonging was owing to a purchase (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
5.      And this is confirmed in Romans 8:1–4, where Jesus dies in my place in order that I might walk according to the Spirit. The presence of the Spirit in my life was bought on the cross.

Summary (07:03–08:21)

1.      We belong to Christ because we have been purchased by his death.
2.      Therefore, we have the Spirit of God—which is the Spirit of Christ—living in us.
3.      Therefore, we are under the sway of the life-giving and sanctifying Spirit and walk according to the Spirit.

Study Questions

1.      Explain the “if” clause in the first half of Romans 8:9 in your own words. If what, then what?


2.      Read 1 Corinthians 6:19–20. How does that help you understand what it means to belong to Jesus? Do you see any connections with what we have studied in Romans 8 so far?


3.      Why might Paul shift from “the Spirit of God” to “the Spirit of Christ” within the same verse?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      How to Be Filled With The Spirit (article)
•      Am I Saved? (interview)
•      Christian, Know Whose You Are: You Have the Spirit of Christ (sermon on Romans 8:7–11)

Romans 8:10–11

The Spirit in You Is Life

November 13, 2014
by John Piper
Topic: The Holy Spirit
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Even though we’ve been saved by Jesus, we all still die. What does it mean for us that the Spirit lives in us? What does it mean for our fight against sin, our relationship to Jesus, and our death?

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:34)

Life and Death for the Believer (00:34–06:31)

1.      If the Spirit is in you, Christ himself is in you. (Romans 8:10, cf. John 14:16–18)
2.      Your body will still die because of sin. We have been saved from sin, but the effects of sin still inflict us. (Romans 8:10)
3.      But the Spirit lives in you now because of the righteousness of Christ. (Romans 8:10, cf. 8:1–4)

Effects of the Spirit (06:31–08:34)

1.      The Spirit in you gives you victory over sin. (Romans 8:9)
2.      If the Spirit is in you, you belong to Jesus. (Romans 8:9)
3.      The Spirit in you will raise you from the dead. (Romans 8:11)

Study Questions

1.      Based on Romans 8:10, how do those who are in Jesus experience life and death?


2.      Whose righteousness is Paul referring to at the end of Romans 8:10? How do you know?


3.      From Romans 8:9–11, sum up three benefits of having God’s Spirit living in us.

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      By What Death Will You Glorify God? (article)
•      Facing Death Faithfully (interview)
•      Christian, Know Whose You Are: You Have the Spirit of Christ (sermon on Romans 8:7–11)

Romans 8:12–13

Put Sin to Death

November 27, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:12–13
Topic: Killing Sin
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Paul warns us about letting sin linger in our lives, so how do we kill sin? Beginning with Romans 8, John Piper walks through several passages to explain the weapons God has given us to defeat sin and its deception.

Outline

Introduction (00:00–00:41)

Why We Kill Sin (00:41–02:13)

1.      What are “the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13)? They happen when we present our bodies to sin (Romans 6:12–13).
2.      “Put to death the deeds of the body.” That is, kill the sin that is about to take hold of the body and make it an instrument for unrighteouesness.

How We Kill Sin: By the Spirit (02:13–05:46)

1.      We kill sin “by the Spirit.” (Romans 8:13)
2.      The only weapon in the armor of God is the word of God (Ephesians 6:16–17). So, we kill sin by the Spirit by wielding the word against temptation.
3.      We kill sin by the Spirit by hearing the word with faith (Galatians 3:5). We defeat sin when we trust that God’s word holds a superior satisfaction.
4.      We kill sin through sanctification “by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

Killing Sin: An Example (05:46–07:20)

Read Hebrews 13:5–6 (about the love of money).

1.      “Keep your life free from the love of money.” (Hebrews 13:5)
2.      Because God says (God’s word), “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Trust God’s promises over the promises money makes.
3.      Don’t love money. Instead, love God’s promises and satisfied in them.

Summary (07:20–08:14)

1.      “If you live according to the flesh, you will die.” (Romans 8:13)
2.      “But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)
3.      Eternal life is attained along the path of warfare, not of making peace with our sin.
4.      This fight is fought by the Spirit, not in our strength.
5.      We trust in the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, which satisfies us more than anything the deeds of the flesh can give us.

Study Questions

1.      What are the deeds of the body? After defining them yourself, look at Romans 6:12–13 and improve your definition.


2.      How do we kill sin? Read Ephesians 6:16–17, Galatians 3:5, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and Hebrews 13:5 for help.


3.      What does it mean to kill sin “by the Spirit”?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Jesus Is Not Your Sin-Manager (article)
•      What Does It Mean to ‘Kill Sin by the Spirit’? (interview)
•      How to Kill Sin, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (sermons on Romans 8:10–17)

Romans 8:12–13

Sin Will Kill You

November 25, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:12–13
Topic: Killing Sin
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Sin will kill you. God gives warnings in the Bible, and sometimes they seem to call into question our security in Christ. How should we read the Bible’s warnings? And what role do they play in our salvation? John Piper answers in this lab.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:59)

The Debt We Do Owe (00:59–04:06)

1.      We owe the flesh nothing (Romans 8:12). It has done nothing but curse and enslave us.
2.      But we do owe the Spirit everything (Romans 8:12). The Spirit overcame the power of the flesh and brought us to life.
3.      Why? Because if we live to satisfy the flesh, we will die. (Romans 8:13)
4.      This death is not a physical death, because everyone dies physically. This is a spiritual death.

Real Warning, Real Security (04:06–07:41)

1.      The justified are secure. They will be glorified. No one drops out in God’s plan for salvation. (Romans 8:28–30)
2.      Therefore, those who really are justified, who have been sealed by the Spirit, will most certainly put to death the deeds of the body. (Romans 8:13)
3.      Paul is aiming to produce urgency and intentionality in the Christian life, specifically in fighting sin.

Study Questions

1.      Why are we not debtors to the flesh? In what way are we debtors to the Spirit?


2.      Read Romans 8:28–30. How do these verses affect how you understand the warning in Romans 8:13?


3.      Paul is writing to believers (“brothers”), so is he saying that true Christians can in fact fall away and be sentenced to hell (“you will die”)?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Some Proven Weapons in the Fight for Holiness (article)
•      A Prayer for Those Stuck in Sin (interview)
•      How to Kill Sin, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (sermons on Romans 8:10–17)

Romans 8:14

The Children of God

December 2, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:14
Topic: Sonship (Adoption by God)
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible often argues in “if/then” statements, and the context will help us clarify exactly what the conditions are. In this lab, John Piper shows us where to find assurance that we are the children of God.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:44)

Review Romans 8:12–13 (00:44–03:11)

1.      We do not owe the flesh anything. It’s done nothing but harm and ruin us. We would be foolish to look to it for happiness. (Romans 8:12)
2.      If you live to the flesh, you will die a forever death (not just a physical death). (Romans 8:13).
3.      If by the Spirit you kill sin, you will live forever. (Romans 8:13)
4.      You really do put sin to death, but you do it by the power of God—that is, by the Spirit. (Romans 8:13)

The Sons of God (03:11–06:00)

1.      All who are led by the Spirit (Romans 8:13) reveal that they are the true sons of God. IF you are being led by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13), THEN you are a child of God. (Romans 8:14)
2.      To be led by the Spirit (in this specific passage) is to be led into war against our sin. (Romans 8:13)
3.      Paul’s point in these verses is to encourage us to confront and conquer sin in our lives by the Spirit in order to enjoy greater assurance that we are God’s children.

Children Never Die (06:00–07:37)

1.      The children of God do not die. They inherit the estate of God. (Romans 8:17)
2.      The condition in Romans 8:17 is the same as in Romans 8:13. Putting sin to death is hard, and it hurts, but it brings joy and glory in the end.

Study Questions

1.      Based on Romans 8:14, how do we know if we are children of God? Restate the conditional statement in your own words.


2.      What might it mean to “be led by the Spirit”? Does the immediate context in Romans 8 help you answer that question?


3.      Read Romans 8:12–17. What are the benefits of being a child (son) of God?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      The Strange and Wonderful Miracle of Feeling Loved by God (article)
•      Childlike, Not Childish (interview)
•      The Spirit-Led Are the Sons of God (sermon on Romans 8:14)

Romans 8:15

Not Slavery, But Adoption

December 4, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:15
Topic: Sonship (Adoption by God)
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Adoption is not unique to Christianity, but it is a much more complex and glorious reality in the context of God’s love for us in the gospel. In this lab, John Piper presses in on several key words to show what it means for God to be a Father.

Outline

Prayer/Review (00:00–00:56)

Slavery or Adoption (00:56–03:03)

Question: Why do those who are led by the Spirit of God prove they are children of God (“For”)?

Answer: Because God does not give us a spirit of slavery, but of adoption. When he makes us his, it’s not as slaves, but as children.

Application (03:03–07:09)

1.      We may wish that slavery never existed as an illustration, but it does still give God an opportunity to show us how he relates us (or how he does not).
2.      The solution to fear in this life is to have a Heavenly Father.
3.      We “cry” to this Father, meaning we throw ourselves on him in dependence.
4.      We cry “Abba”, a personal and affectionate name. This describes the kind of relationship we have with God through Christ.
5.      We wage warfare against sin (Romans 8:13) not from fear, but out of love for our Father (Romans 8:14).

Study Questions

1.      Explain the “For” at the beginning of Romans 8:15. How is verse 15 grounding or explaining what comes before?


2.      Describe the difference between a god who rules through slavery and One who rules as a Father. What distinctions is Paul making between slavery and adoption?


3.      Why did Paul use the word for “cry” in Romans 8:15? What other words could he have used?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Adoption Is Bigger Than You Think (article)
•      We Pray to a Father (interview)
•      Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory (sermon)

Romans 8:16

The Witness of the Spirit

December 9, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:16
Topic: The Holy Spirit
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

The Holy Spirit has a massive role in Romans 8, and in the rest of the Bible, but he is often overlooked. In this lab, John Piper highlights the work of the Holy Spirit, specifically three ways he testifies that we are the children of God.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:37)

Three Ways the Spirit Testifies (00:37–08:51)

God has given us a Spirit of adoption, not a spirit of slavery (Romans 8:15). Paul puts a name on that Spirit in Romans 8:16.

1.      The first way the Spirit testifies that you are a child of God is a heartfelt cry to a Father (Romans 8:15).
2.      The second way the Spirit testifies that you are a child of God is a hatred in our hearts for our sin and a desire to kill it (Romans 8:13).
3.      The third way the Spirit testifies that you are a child of God is by highlighting the centrality and sufficiency of Jesus (John 15:26).

Study Questions

1.      What does “testify” mean? Step back and define the work of testifying before you narrow in specifically on how the Spirit testifies. What’s another example of testifying, and how does it work?


2.      Looking back on the last few verses in Romans 8, how does the Spirit testify that we are children of God? What specific ways does he work to show that we are God’s?


3.      Read John 15:26. Does that help you define the Spirit’s work in Romans 8? Reread Romans 8:1–4. Do you read it differently after reading John 15:26?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit this page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      What’s Better Than Jesus Beside You (article)
•      How Does the Spirit Testify I’m Saved? (interview)
•      Four Sermons on the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:17

Heirs of God

December 11, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:17
Topic: Sonship (Adoption by God)
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Our adoption as sons and daughters of God is a deep and glorious blessing. In this lab, drawing on several other texts, John Piper asks what it means that we will be glorified with Christ and share in his inheritance.

Outline

Prayer/Review (00:00–00:45)

Who Are the Children of God? (00:45–02:08)

What is the evidence that we are, in fact, children of God?

1.      We are not debtors to the flesh to live according to the flesh (Romans 8:12).
2.      We put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit (Romans 8:13).
3.      We are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14).
4.      We cry to God in humble dependence, as with a Father (Romans 8:15).

The Benefits of Being a Child of God (02:08–09:19)

1.      We will be glorified with Christ—made glorious. (Romans 8:17; cf. Romans 8:28–30; Matthew 13:43)
2.      We will be heirs with Christ of all things. (Romans 8:17, cf. Romans 4:13; 1 Corinthians 3:21–23)
3.      We will suffer with Christ., experiencing all kinds of hardship and pain in this life. (Romans 8:14, cf. 2 Corinthians 4:17)

Study Questions

1.      What does it mean for us to be heirs of God? Can you think of other verses that might help someone understand our inheritance with Christ?


2.      Read Romans 8:28–30 and Matthew 13:43. How does this help you define what it means that we will be glorified with Christ?


3.      Paul says we will be heirs if we suffer with Christ. Does that mean everyone must suffer in order to be saved? And what kind of suffering is he talking about?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Is My Suffering Meaningless? (article)
•      Do My Sufferings Complete Christ’s? (interview)
•      Children, Heirs, and Fellow Sufferers (sermon on Romans 8:17)

Romans 8:18–21

The Freedom of the Glory of the Children of God

January 13, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:18–21
Topic: Suffering
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Suffering might be the hardest, most confusing reality in the Christian life. In this lab, John Piper uncovers deep and durable truths that will help you suffer well. God made and saves the world in the way he did in to make Christ the center of the universe.

Outline

Prayer (00:00–00:34)

Suffering and Glory (00:34–03:55)

1.      We will be glorified with Christ if we suffer with him. (Romans 8:17)
2.      Paul wants believers to know that they will (all) suffer in this life. (Romans 8:18)
3.      We will not understand our suffering without understanding what is waiting for us in eternity. (Romans 8:18).
4.      The glory that will be revealed will be Christ’s glory, and it will be our glory. (Romans 8:18)

Futility and Freedom (03:55–07:02)

1.      We often think we are the ones waiting to see the earth made new, but it is also the reverse. The creation is longing to enter into the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19)
2.      God subjected the creation to futility because of sin, but he did it in hope. (Romans 8:20)
3.      God’s hope for the creation is that it will be set free from corruption and enter into the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)

Why Save This Way? (07:02–08:56)

1.      We, the children of God, are being glorified with Christ. Meaning, Christ is glorified as we are redeemed and glorified with him. (Romans 8:17)
2.      Christ saves and glorifies us through his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his own glorification. He died, rose, and reigns to be the highest point of all of history and all of creation.
3.      The suffering, longing, and glory of redemption is God’s way of making Christ the center of the universe.

Study Questions

1.      Is the glory “to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18) a glory that we will see or a glory that we ourselves will be?


2.      In Romans 8:20, who subjected the creation to futility? Why did he do that?


3.      Read Romans 8:18–21. Who is waiting/hoping/watching for whom in these verses? How do the creation and the redeemed children of God relate to one another?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      What’s the Point of All this Futility? (article)
•      The Doctrine of Suffering (interview with David Platt)
•      Subjected to Futility in Hope, Part 1 & Part 2 (sermons on Romans 8:18–21)

Romans 8:22–25

The Redemption of Our Bodies

January 15, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:22–25
Topic: Suffering
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Knowing that the whole creation, including us, is suffering because of the corruption of sin, what hope can we have that things will get better? In this lab, John Piper talks about the tensions we feel as we strive to believe God’s promises while sometimes suffering greatly.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:51)

Birth Pains, Not Death Pains (00:51–05:14)

1.      The creation will be freed into the glory of the redeemed children of God. (Romans 8:19–21)
2.      The creation is groaning in birth pains, not death pains. (Romans 8:22, cf. Mark 13:8)
3.      Not only the creation groans, but believers suffer now, as well, until we (including our bodies) are fully redeemed and made new. (Romans 8:23)

Present Pain, Future Hope (05:14–08:31)

1.      There is a tension in these verses between the already of our salvation (our hope for the future) and the not-yet of our salvation (our pain in the present). (Romans 8:23)
2.      We are the “firstfruits” (Romans 8:23). The harvest has begun, but it is not yet complete.
3.      Yes, we groan now, but wait “eagerly” (Romans 8:23) for the redemption that is to come.
4.      We are adopted (Romans 8:15), but we have not experienced our adoption fully yet (Romans 8:23).
5.      The hope we have is real, but it not a hope we can see. That is, the world we see around us does not confirm our hope. (Romans 8:24–25)
6.      Paul is pleading with Christians to be patient and endure suffering in this life so that they might be glorified with Christ. (Romans 8:17–25; cf. Romans 2:7)

Suffering and the Prosperity Gospel (08:31–09:52)

The not-yet of our salvation in these verses is the great corrective to the prosperity gospel. We wait and suffer in the pains of childbirth, all the while having great hope in our sovereign purposes of God. We know that these bodies will be redeemed.

Study Questions

1.      Why would Paul describe suffering in this world as birth pains in Romans 8:22?


2.      From Romans 8:22–25, describe the tensions between the already aspects of our salvation and the not-yet aspects. What is already true of us in Christ? What are we still waiting for?


3.      What do the truths in Romans 8:22–25 mean for the prosperity gospel? Drawing on these verses, how would you talk to someone whose faith in God gospel is undone by suffering or evil in this life?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Boomers’ Bodies—And Yours (article)
•      Facing Death Faithfully (interview)
•      Our Hope: The Redemption of Our Bodies (sermon on Romans 8:22–25)

Romans 8:26–27

The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness

January 20, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:26–27
Topic: The Holy Spirit
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

These two verses are two of the hardest in Romans 8. John Piper asks two important questions to uncover how the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. He shows how God—all three persons—is active in helping and keeping us through the hardest things in life.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:41)

Who Does the Groaning? (00:41–06:03)

1.      These groanings are not the Holy Spirit’s, but something he works in us. (Romans 8:26)
2.      The Holy Spirit doesn’t need to groan. We don’t know what to pray, but he knows exactly what to pray for. (Romans 8:26)
3.      God “searches hearts” (Romans 8:27). He is not searching the mind of the Spirit, but our hearts. Our hearts are doing the groaning as the Holy Spirit stirs them.
4.      The previous verses say that we, who have the Holy Spirit, “groan” (Romans 8:23).
5.      Again in the context, the Holy Spirit testifies with our Spirit when we cry “Abba Father!” (Romans 8:15–16).

For what Does the Holy Spirit Pray? (06:03–09:51)

1.      Our “weakness” (Romans 8:26) at least includes physical pain and suffering. (cf. Galatian 4:13; 1 Timothy 5:23; Romans 8:23)
2.      Should we pray for deliverance or endurance? For healing or patience while you die? “We do not know what to pray for as we ought …” (Romans 8:26).
3.      So in our weakness we groan by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through them the Holy Spirit intercedes before the Father. (Romans 8:26–27)
4.      The will of God in everything is for our good. The Spirit knows what to pray for us in every circumstance to bring about Romans 8:28.

Study Questions

1.      Who does the groaning in Romans 8:26?


2.      What kind of weakness is Paul describing here in Romans 8:26? What kinds of weakness fit in this verse?


3.      Looking at the context in Romans 8. Can you say anything about “the will of God” (Romans 8:27)? Is there anything that suggests what God’s will for you is?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      When We Don’t Want to Wait (article)
•      The Holy Spirit: Jesus’s Closest Companion (interview with Sinclair Feruson)
•      The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness, Part 1 and Part 2 (sermons on Romans 8:26–27)

Romans 8:28, Part 1

All Things Work Together for Good

January 22, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:28
Topic: The Sovereignty of God
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 8:28 is one of the most important and most treasured verses and promises in the Bible. In this lab, John Piper begins a series of three labs pulling apart the critical pieces in these twenty-four words for understanding and embracing our sovereign and good God.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:48)

What Does ‘Good’ Mean? (01:48–05:30)

“We do not know what to pray for as we ought …” (Romans 8:26). But there is something we do know (Romans 8:28). What do we know? We know that all things work together for good for those who love God. (Romans 8:28)

1.      What does “good” mean? First, “good” is to be conformed to the image of God’s Son (Romans 8:29). We will be like him one day in sinlessness and purity.
2.      Second, being conformed to him, we will be in a position to see and praise him, the one who goes before us and is lifted above us. (Romans 8:29)
3.      The last good of Romans 8:28 is our final glorification. (Romans 8:30)

What Are the ‘All Things’? (05:30–11:03)

1.      All things—positive or negative, painful or pleasurable—are by his design, and sustained by him, and for his glory. (Romans 11:36)
2.      God will work all things according to the counsel of his will, and his will is for our good. (Ephesians 1:11–12, cf. Romans 8:28)
3.      Everything we need in this life will be ours, including painful things that are necessary to bring us to glory. (Romans 8:31–34)
4.      Even death is yours. Death itself will serve our ultimate, lasting death. (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)
5.      All our sufferings will serve our future glory. (Romans 8:18–22)
6.      All of our groaning will work together for our good (Romans 8:23–25). At least one way this happens is that suffering produces hope (Romans 5:3–5).

Study Questions

1.      Try to define “good” in Romans 8:28. Clearly, it does not mean comfort or ease or health or prosperity. So what does it mean here?


2.      When Paul says “all things,” what kinds of things does he have in mind?


3.      Read Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 3:21–23, and Romans 5:3–5. Do those verses change or shape the way you read Romans 8:28? If so, in what ways?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Life’s Deepest Pains for Your Greatest Pleasure (article)
•      Finding Joy When Life Hurts Most (interview)
•      All Things for Good, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (sermons on Romans 8:28)

Romans 8:28, Part 2

Do You Love God?

January 27, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:28
Topic: Faith
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

The Bible makes promises to those who love God. But how do we know if we do? In this lab, John Piper digs into the relationship between saving faith and loving God. He goes on to show why and how God works all things for good for those who love him.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:59)

All Who Believe God Love God (00:59–04:21)

1.      “Those who love God” must be all Christians because Romans 8:29 assumes they’re all believers (all are foreknown, predestined, etc.).
2.      This same idea is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 2:9–10, where Paul is clearly talking about all Christians, not some smaller group of them.
3.      The evidence that you’ve been known (or foreknown) by God is that you love God. (1 Corinthians 8:3)
4.      Anyone who does not love God is to be accursed. (1 Corinthians 16:22)

Why ‘Love’ and Not ‘Trust’? (04:21–09:25)

1.      The Holy Spirit delivers us from hostility to God, and replaces it with love (or a desire to please him). (Romans 8:7–8)
2.      We cry, “Abba! Father!” by the Holy Spirit. It is a heartfelt cry of affection and adoration, not indifference. (Romans 8:15)
3.      God’s glory is so precious to us that we can consider all our suffering not worth comparing with it (Romans 8:18). How could someone say that if they did not love God?
4.      Therefore, all who truly trust God do love him—desire him, delight in him, and treasure him above all else. And all who truly love God trust him.
5.      What does it mean for God to work all together for the good of those who love him? The greatest good is us being swept up into God—being conformed to the image of his Son and sharing in his glory. (Romans 8:28–30)

Study Questions

1.      Who are “those who love God” (Romans 8:28)? Why does Paul use ‘love’ here, and not trust or believe or follow?


2.      Read back through Romans 8. Note all the evidence that believers in God also love God.


3.      How does Romans 8:29–30 relate to Romans 8:28? Do you see a connection between the promise of 8:28 and the promise of 8:29–30?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      The Story of Ian & Larissa (article)
•      Do I Love God or Just Love Loving Him? (interview)
•      All Things for Good, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 (sermons on Romans 8:28)

Romans 8:28, Part 3

Called According to God’s Purpose

January 29, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:28 and 1 Corinthians 1:22–24
Topic: Assurance of Salvation
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

When God calls a man or woman, what happens? In this lab, the third of three labs focused on Romans 8:28, John Piper draws in several other verses to try and understand the call of God. He explains why those who love God should rest secure in his sovereign care.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:24)

The Call of God (01:24–06:08)

1.      “… those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified …” (Romans 8:30). Not some, but all who are justified are also called.
2.      The only way one can be justified is by faith. (Romans 3:28)
3.      The call in Romans 8:28 and 8:30 must, therefore, be more than the preaching of the gospel because not everyone who hears believes and is justified.
4.      The general call is the preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:23), but there is a call within the general call (1 Corinthians 1:24). The specific call creates sight—or saving, justifying faith.
5.      Again, the call of God creates sight. It is the effectual work of God in our hearts to awaken some through preaching. (2 Corinthians 4:6, cf. Romans 4:17)

The Love of God (06:08–07:12)

1.      We must love God (our side of the equation), and God calls us (God’s side of the equation). (Romans 8:28–30)
2.      Your faith—filled with love for God—was created by God’s call.
3.      Therefore, your love for God was not created by you, and it is not sustained by you. It was created and is sustained by God.

The Purpose of God (07:12–09:02)

1.      The call accords with a predestination, and that predestination is unto our conformity to the Son. (Romans 8:29)
2.      That conformity to the Son eventually leads to our glorification with him. (Romans 8:30)
3.      God’s purpose in our salvation is an eternal purpose (“before the ages began”), and it accords with his calling. (2 Timothy 1:9)
4.      Therefore, God’s calling (Romans 8:28, 30) accords with the purpose of election (Romans 9:11). Behind our calling is a predestination, and behind our predestination is an election.

Summary (09:02–09:39)

Be encouraged and assured. If you love God, you have at least two reasons to rest secure that God is working all things for your good.

1.      God called us sovereignly to himself and created our faith in and love for him.
2.      This call itself is rooted in an eternal purpose to bring us into conformity with his Son and to bring us to glory. It cannot fail.

Study Questions

1.      Read through Romans 8:28–30. Write down everything you learn about the call of God in these verses.


2.      Read 1 Corinthians 1:22–24. How do those verses help you understand the call of God? When this call occurs, what happens? Do you see two different calls happening in this passage?


3.      Look back over Romans 8:28–30. Try to define the relationship between God’s call on your life and your love for God. How do those two actions—one God’s and one ours—relate to each other?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      How to Confirm Your Call and Election (article)
•      Am I Saved? (interview)
•      Called According to His Purpose (sermon on Romans 8:28)

Romans 8:29

Conformed to the Image of Christ

February 5, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:18, Colossians 1:15–16, and Romans 8:29
Topic: Sanctification & Growth
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

God’s purpose in creation and redemption is to have a family of children conformed to the image of his Son. But how does that happen in me? In this lab, Pastor John explains the ways in which we are made like Jesus.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:30)

Predestined to Adoption and Conformity (01:30–05:02)

1.      God’s plan is to have a vast family (“the firstborn among many brothers”) (Romans 8:29). Predestination is God’s purpose to have many children—many sons and daughters. (Ephesians 1:3–5)
2.      Those who experience the amazing privilege of being in God’s family are being conformed into the image of Christ, God’s Son. (Romans 8:29)
3.      Jesus himself is the image of God (Colossians 1:15–16). Therefore, we are being made into images of the image of the Father.

The Way We Are Changed (05:02–09:20)

1.      To be conformed into the image of the Son is to be glorified. The glory we get in glorification is the glory of the Son. (Romans 8:29–30, cf. Romans 8:17)
2.      This glory is moral and spiritual (2 Corinthians 3:18). Our bodies get older and weaker, so this growth in glory cannot be physical. We are, however, being transformed day by day within.
3.      And one day, our bodies will be transformed physically to be like the glorious body of Jesus. (Philippians 3:20–21)
4.      Our transformation will be made complete at the second coming, when we see Jesus and never sin again. (1 John 3:2)

Christ, the Goal and End of Everything (09:20–11:08)

1.      All this happens so that Christ would be “the firstborn of many” (Romans 8:29). That does not diminish Christ; it exalts him.
2.      As we are conformed to him, he is made the standard of all beauty, excellence, and purity.
3.      So, the purpose of the universe is to have a vast family of children conformed to Christ, which makes him the center of all things and the meaning of creation.

Study Questions

1.      Read Ephesians 1:3–5. How does this help you understand and explain predestination in Romans 8:29?


2.      Read 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Philippians 3:20–21. In what ways are we being conformed to Christ? Is it moral, spiritual, or physical?


3.      Explain how us being conformed to Christ exalts Christ. Why does that not diminish him in any way? How does our being conformed to Christ fit into God’s main purpose in creation and redemption?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Believer, Become What You Are (article)
•      The Transforming Power of Christ’s Glory (interview)
•      Glorification: Conformed to Christ for the Supremacy of Christ (sermon on Romans 8:28–30)

Romans 8:29

Foreknown by God

February 3, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:29
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

The phrase “foreknown by God” has caused significant controversy and conflict within Christianity. Did God simply know ahead of time that we would believe, or did he choose who would believe? In this lab, John Piper explains as he tackles the next verse in Romans 8.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:53)

Two Options For ‘Foreknown’ (01:53–05:35)

Option #1: God foresaw our self-determined faith. We remain the decisive cause of our salvation. God responds to our decision to believe.
Option #2: God chose us—not on the basis of foreseen faith, but on the basis of nothing in us. He called us, and the call itself creates the faith for which it calls.

‘Known’ in the Bible (05:35–09:25)

1.      Being known by God awakens and enables our love for God (1 Corinthians 8:3). This relationship between loving God and being known by him is in Romans 8:28–29, as well.
2.      To ‘know’ was a way of talking about sexual intercourse in the Old Testament. It communicates and intimate choosing of someone. (Genesis 4:1; 18:17–19)
3.      God ‘knew’ Abraham, meaning he chose him for his special possession and purpose. (Genesis 18:17–19)
4.      God knows all the families of the earth, but he knows Israel in a different way. He chose her. (Amos 3:2)
5.      God knows the ways of the wicked, too, but he knows the ways of the righteous in a different way. He chooses and embraces their ways. (Psalm 1:5–6)
6.      Therefore, it would not be strange at all to replace “foreknew” in Romans 8:29 with “chose ahead of time.”

Summary (09:25–11:44)

1.      Man is responsible to know and love the truth of God.
2.      Man is guilty whenever and wherever he doesn’t know or love that truth. We all have rejected and suppressed the truth about God.
3.      God does not give man decisive control over salvation. It remains a free, undeserved gift.
4.      Therefore, we serve all with the utmost humility, because we did nothing to deserve or achieve our salvation.

Study Questions

1.      Explain Paul’s use of the word “For” at the beginning of Romans 8:29. How is it connecting what comes before it with what comes after?


2.      Read 1 Corinthians 8:3, Genesis 18:17–19, and Amos 3:2. Define what it means to “know” someone in these verses. Include as many observations as you can see.


3.      Explain at least two ways for interpreting “foreknew” in Romans 8:29, establishing some of the evidence—in Romans 8 or elsewhere in the Bible—for each side. Which do you find more compelling here?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist” (article)
•      Is It Sin to Dislike Divine Election? (interview)
•      Foreknown, Predestined, Conformed to Christ (sermon on Romans 8:28–30)

Romans 8:30

Predestined, Called, Justified, Glorified

February 10, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Philippians 3:9, Romans 4:5, and Romans 8:30
Topic: Justification
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

A promise as mind-blowing as Romans 8:28 needs massive faith-sustaining truth underneath it. Romans 8:30 lays out a process in which God exalts Christ by bringing ungodly people to glory. In this lab, John Piper offers assurance in God’s invincible plan of salvation.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:35)

If you’re going to build a building as a high as the promise of Romans 8:28, you better dig a very deep foundation (Romans 8:29–30).

Observations (02:35–06:12)

1.      Between predestination and glorification are two steps: calling and justification. (Romans 8:30)
2.      There are no dropouts in this process. Everyone who is predestined will be glorified. (Romans 8:30)
3.      The call is an omnipotent, sovereign work of God to bring into being what isn’t. (Romans 4:17)
4.      God justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5). The only people that exist are ungodly people. If anyone will be justified, he or she will be an ungodly person.

Implications (06:12–10:24)

1.      The justification of ungodly people exalts Christ, because it was by his sacrifice that we were redeemed and justified.
2.      God condemned our sin in the flesh of Christ (Romans 8:1–4). Our punishment was executed in the crucifixion of Jesus.
3.      We will never be righteous by law-keeping. Our only hope for righteousness is the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:9)
4.      Because of our calling and justification, all the predestined will be glorified. (Romans 8:30)
5.      Christ is exalted because he is both the ground of our glorification and the goal of our glorification.

Study Questions

1.      Is there any difference between the groups that are predestined, called, justified, and glorified? Why or why not?


2.      Read Romans 4:5 and Philippians 3:9. Define justification in Romans 8:30 using these other verses.


3.      Explain how Romans 8:29–30 ground the amazing promise of Romans 8:28. How does Paul argue that God is working all things for our good from the truths that follow?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      We Will Be Like Him (article)
•      Why Is Jesus My Advocate If I’m Already Justified? (interview)
•      Those Whom He Called He Also Justified, Part 1 and Part 2 (sermons on Romans 8:30)

Romans 8:31–32

Who Can Be Against Us?

February 12, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:31–32
Topic: The Death of Christ
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

God is for you, and therefore no one can defeat you. God gave his Son, so he will most definitely give you all things. This lab looks at a couple powerful rhetorical questions. John Piper searches the truths behind Paul’s questions to find massive rocks under the Christian’s life.

Outline

Prayer (00:00–00:36)

Introduction (00:36–03:07)

Paul reinforces the glorious promises of Romans 8 with two questions: 1. Who can be against us? 2. How will he not give us all things?

God Is for Us (03:07–07:08)

1.      Who is the “us” in Romans 8:31? It is those who are foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:28–30).
2.      God is for us—the elect—in a way that he is not for everyone (John 3:16). God loved the world by sending his Son to die for sins, but God goes beyond the offer to predestine and call us (Romans 8:30).
3.      If God is for us, no one can succeed against us (Romans 8:31). If you cut my head off, you dispatch me to glory.

God Did Not Spare His Son (07:08–10:50)

1.      God, who gave even his own Son, will most definitely also give us all things. (Romans 8:32)
2.      This is an argument from the greater to the lesser. If God can sacrifice his infinitely precious Son, of course he would give us anything and everything else. All things are small compared to the value of God’s Son.
3.      This is not the prosperity gospel, because we know Christians will experience all kinds of suffering and even death. (Romans 8:35–39)
4.      “All things” (Romans 8:32) means everything we need to be conformed to Christ, to persevere to glory, and to enjoy God forever.

Study Questions

1.      Describe the way Paul is arguing here in Romans 8:31 and Romans 8:32. How is this different than the ways he has been arguing so far in Romans 8?


2.      If Christians face all kinds of opposition and persecution, how could Paul suggest that no one can be against us (Romans 8:31)?


3.      What does “all things” mean in Romans 8:32? What can it not mean?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Why God Gives Us More Than We Can Handle (article)
•      The Mystery of Sorrowful Rejoicing (interview)
•      God Did Not Spare His Own Son (sermon on Romans 8:32)

Romans 8:33–34

It Is God Who Justifies

February 17, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Luke 22:31–32 and Romans 8:33–34
Topic: Justification
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Satan is an accuser (Revelation 12:10), but Jesus disarmed him at the cross. In this lab, John Piper explains how the work of Christ wars against and defeats Satan’s schemes to accuse and condemn us. Are you able to wield the sword of Paul’s promises against the evil one?

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:25)

No One Can Convict You (01:25–03:19)

1.      This cannot mean that no one can charge us with something. Even Jesus had charges brought against him. In fact, he was killed because of false charges brought against him.
2.      No one can accuse you successfully (Romans 8:33). No one can make charges against you stick.
3.      God has already justified you—declared you not guilty, righteous.
4.      God—the highest court of appeal, and the highest, most supreme of courts—has already rendered his verdict.

No One Can Condemn You (03:19–08:42)

1.      Christ Jesus died for you (Romans 8:34, cf. Romans 8:1–4). Your guilt has been paid for, endured by Jesus.
2.      Christ Jesus rose from the dead (Romans 8:34). God’s saving work on the cross was vindicated (proved to be successful) by the resurrection. No matter how painful and gruesome your circumstances are here, you have not been condemned by God.
3.      Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God (Romans 8:34). If God has so honored him, he will honor the work he did for you at the cross.
4.      Christ Jesus is interceding for you now (Romans 8:34; cf. John 17:9, 15–17). Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail, and it did not utterly fail, even though it faltered for a time (Luke 22:31–32).

Summary (08:42–09:23)

Study Questions

1.      If you are in Christ, no one can bring any charge against you. What does this mean, and how does Paul defend that promise?


2.      If you are in Christ, no one can condemn you. What evidence does Paul give for this promise (four points)?


3.      Read John 17:9, 15–17 and Luke 22:31–32. How do those verses help you understand what it means for Christ to intercede for you?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Satan Disarmed, Sin Forgiven, Soul Alive (article)
•      Why Is Jesus My Advocate If I’m Already Justified? (interview)
•      It Is God Who Justifies! (sermon on Romans 8:33–34)

Romans 8:35–37

We Are More Than Conquerors

February 19, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:35–37
Topic: Perseverance of the Saints
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

We learn a lot about the Bible when the Bible quotes itself. In this lab, John Piper looks at Paul’s use of Psalm 44 to see how we are more than conquerors in all our suffering. Understanding God’s love for us in Christ completely changes how we think about hard things in this life.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:44)

Suffering Cannot Separate You from Christ (00:44–07:32)

1.      Christ Jesus died, rose, sits at God’s right hand, and intercedes for you with his omnipotent love (Romans 8:34). Christ will not stop loving you.
2.      But can you be separated from Christ’s love? Is there anything in life that could keep you from being loved by Christ?
3.      Paul’s examples of things that might separate us from Christ are both opposition and poverty. (Romans 8:35)
4.      God promises to provide everything we need (Matthew 6:30–33). Yet Paul suggests we may experience famine and nakedness (Romans 8:35). God will give us everything we need according to his judgment of what we need to do his will and glorify him.
5.      Paul says, “We are being killed …” (Romans 8:36, cf. Psalm 44:22). This is not hypothetical suffering. It is real.
6.      Paul asks, “Who,” and not, “What,” at the beginning of Romans 8:35. Someone is behind these sufferings—God, another person, or the devil (Revelation 2:10).

Innocent Suffering and Eternal Security (07:32–11:03)

1.      The sufferer in Psalm 44:22 is innocent (“God knows the secrets of our hearts”). (Psalm 44:21)
2.      Christians often suffer even though they have not disobeyed God or turned away from him.
3.      Nothing shall separate us from the omnipotent love of Christ. (Romans 8:37)
4.      Through Christ, in all these things—not despite, but in—we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37).
5.      Why “more than” a conqueror (Romans 8:37)? Your enemies die, and then rise again to serve you and your eternal good.
6.      Our sufferings are expressions of the love of Christ for us in the sovereign hand of God, because they make us more like Jesus and bring us with great reward to glory.

Study Questions

1.      What do you notice about the list of sufferings Paul uses here? Are there any that are different than the others? If so, why do you think he included them?


2.      Go back and read the context of Psalm 44:22. Why might Paul have quoted this text in particular? What similarities might there be with the Christians in the early church?


3.      What does it mean to be “more than” a conqueror? It’s easy, perhaps, to understand what it means to be a conqueror, but why does Paul say “more than”?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Remembering the Unquantifiable Love of God (article)
•      You Have Been Greatly Loved (interview)
•      The All-Conquering Love of Christ (sermon on Romans 8:35–37)

Romans 8:38–39

Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love

February 24, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 8:38–39
Topic: The Love of God
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 8 lands on the note of God’s unstoppable, unshakeable love for us in Christ. Nothing—however dark or hard—can separate us from him. Not only that, but all things now work for us. In this lab, John Piper reveals the love of God for us, and calls us all to love one another in response to this great love.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:48)

God Will Not Stop Loving You (00:48–06:41)

1.      In Christ Jesus, God will never stop loving us. (Romans 8:35–37)
2.      But can something block the love of God to us? Paul gives ten more possible examples. (Romans 8:38–39)
3.      We know that all things work for our good (Romans 8:28). They don’t just get out of the way. They work for us.
4.      Nothing can block the love of God to us in Christ (Romans 8:38–39).
5.      For instance, death cannot stop God’s love for us. In Christ, God makes death gain for us. (Philippians 1:20)
6.      Not even the devil can get in the way of God’s love for us. Every time he opposes us, God is using it to serve us (2 Corinthians 12:7–10). The devil is a disarmed idiot.

Do Not Stop Loving One Another (06:41–08:47)

1.      As debtors to the Spirit, we do not pay back the Spirit (Romans 8:12–13). No, we live by the Spirit by trusting in the Spirit, embracing all these great truths to strengthen and guide.
2.      In doing so, we fulfill the just requirement of the law, which is love. (Romans 8:4; 13:8)
3.      All that God did on the cross and all he is doing in working all things for our good is meant to enable us to love each other and our enemies.
4.      This love takes whatever risks and makes whatever sacrifices necessary, because the sufferings of this time are not worth comparing with the glory to come.
5.      Therefore, let us spend these few years loving people to the glory of our great God, in whom we have absolute security.

Study Questions

1.      Take a couple of the items in Paul’s list in Romans 8:38–39. Why might someone think they would separate someone from God’s love?


2.      Now read Romans 8:28–39. How might those same things be used by God for our good?


3.      Look back over Romans 8. How does this unstoppable love of God relate to our love for one another?

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      God Will Fulfill His Purpose for You (article)
•      You Have Been Greatly Loved (interview)
•      Nothing Can Separate Us from This Love (sermon on Romans 8:35–37)

Romans 8

The Big Picture

February 26, 2015
by John Piper
Topic: The Love of God
Series: The Greatest Chapter

Principle for Bible Reading

John Piper has completed thirty labs working verse-by-verse through Romans 8. In this last lab, he sums up all that we have learned and explains how the highest points relate to each other. We need to be regularly stepping back in our Bible reading to see the bigger picture.

The Levels of Romans 8

John Piper uses levels to summarize Romans 8. Many of you will not be able to recreate this yourself today, and that is completely fine. The point here is to pick up principles for seeing connections and relationships between the bigger ideas in a passage or chapter. We hope this lab helps pull the pieces together from the series and models a broader way of thinking through a text that complements and completes a careful verse-by-verse study.

Outline

Brief Introduction to Levels (00:00–02:11)

We will attempt to summarize Romans 8 in three steps: 1. Summarize the main points of each section in a chapter in one sentence. 2. Identify the relationship between those main points. Which statements support or follow from the others? 3. Diagram those relationships to

Summarize the Main Points (02:11–08:06)

1.      Romans 8:38–39: God’s love for us goes back into eternity and is unshakeable.
2.      Romans 8:29–30: God’s love for us gives rise to an unbreakable chain of salvation.
3.      Romans 8:28 (cf. 8:21): God’s unshakeable, unbreakable love causes him to work all things together for our good, namely our glory.
4.      Romans 8:18–27: God is working all things for our good through our suffering and by our suffering.
5.      Romans 8:15: All of this produces our full assurance that we are God’s children forever.
6.      Romans 8:4–14: And this unleashes the power of the Holy Spirit in us, enabling us to kill sin and to love people.
7.      Romans 8:1–3: These points (#3–6) are supported by the work of Christ on the cross, where God condemned our sin.

Summary of the Greatest Chapter (08:06–10:18)

The whole of Romans 8 is in the service of present holiness and love—a kind of love that lays down its life for the lost, and thus brings great glory to God (cf. Matthew 5:16).

Study Questions

1.      Look back over all of Romans 8. What are the 5–8 high points in Paul’s argument? If you had to summarize what you’ve learned and share it with someone, which 5–8 points would you include.


2.      Now, try to explain the relationship between those summary points. With each new point, how does it relate in Paul’s argument to what came before and what comes after?


3.      Take some time to pray over all that you’ve learned. Offer these truths—specific truths from specific verses—back to God in adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

‘The Greatest Chapter’ Series

This lab is the final lab in a series through Romans 8. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper unfolds the other-worldly realities in these thirty-nine verses, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘The Greatest Chapter’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Piper: “The whole of Romans 8 is in the service of holiness and love, a love that lays down its life for others.

Romans 9:1–5, Part 1

The Word of God Has Not Failed

May 21, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:1–5
Topic: The Bible
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

Romans 9 potentially creates a massive problem for the glorious promises of Romans 8. In this lab, John Piper begins a series through this difficult, but critical chapter by explaining the crisis of unbelieving Israel and the sure hope of the new people of God in the word of God.

Outline

Prayer/Introduction to Romans 9 (00:00–02:27)

Romans 9 is the massive, unshakeable, often unnoticed foundation of the beautiful, glorious house of Romans 8 and all its promises.

Paul’s Pain Over Israel (02:27–04:19)

1.      Paul is utterly heartbroken over the faithlessness of his fellow Jews. He loves them desperately. (Romans 9:2–3)
2.      Despite the privileges they were given by God, Israel spurned him and his Messiah. (Romans 9:3–5)
3.      Israel’s failure to inherit the kingdom raises questions about God and his faithfulness to his word.

Confirmation in the New Testament (04:19–06:53)

1.      Not all of the Jewish people will receive Jesus as the Messiah, and therefore many of them will not be saved. (Romans 9:27)
2.      Gentiles will join the Jewish patriarchs in the kingdom of heaven, but many you would expect—many of the Jews—will spurn their Messiah, and therefore will be left out of the kingdom and cast into hell. (Matthew 8:11–12)
3.      Even the Jewish leaders must be born again, or they will not be saved. They must experience Jesus Christ as their Messiah. (John 3:3, 5)
4.      The builders—the Jewish leaders—reject their cornerstone—Christ. Therefore, the kingdom is taken away from Israel and given to the church. (Matthew 21:42–43)

Has God’s Word Failed? (06:53–08:58)

1.      Romans 8 hangs entirely on whether God’s word stands.
2.      If God’s word hasn’t stood for Israel despite all of God’s promises, why should we think his word will stand for us, the church?
3.      “But it is not as though the word of God has failed” (Romans 9:6). All of our hope in Romans 8 hangs on Romans 9:6 being true.

Study Questions

1.      After all the promises of Romans 8, what is the crisis in Romans 9:1–5? Why is Paul so distraught after explaining the glories of all God has promised to us in Christ?


2.      Read Romans 9:27, Matthew 8:11–12, John 3:3–5, and Matthew 21:42–43. What do you learn about the state and future of Israel from these verses?


3.      How does Paul address his own pain over Israel in Romans 9:6? How does this begin to resolve the crisis he is feeling in Romans 9:1–5?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Five Reasons to Embrace Unconditional Election (article)
•      Can I Believe the Whole Bible and Not Be Elect? (interview)
•      The Absolute Sovereignty of God: What Is Romans Nine About? (sermon on Romans 9:1–5)

Romans 9:1–5, Part 2

Unending Joy and Unceasing Anguish

May 26, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:8–10, Philippians 4:1, Philippians 4:11–13, and Romans 9:1–5
Topic: Joy
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

The Christian life is an undeniably hard, yet gloriously satisfying life. How is it that we can be unbelievably heartbroken over the lost in our lives and unshakably happy in the promises of God all at the same time? In this lab, John Piper digs at the root of this emotional mystery.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:23)

Speaking the Truth (01:23–05:29)

1.      “Speaking the truth in Christ” means Paul is conscious of being united with Christ as he speaks. (Romans 9:1)
2.      “I am not lying”—Lying does not belong in the Christian life. Christians do not need to protect themselves with deceit and manipulation. (Romans 9:1)
3.      The Holy Spirit shapes Paul’s conscience. As Paul speaks, he believes he is in step with God and his Spirit. Paul is not his own, but he lives and acts and speaks in the presence and power of God. (Romans 9:1)

Why Would I Lie? (05:29–07:52)

1.      Paul loves the Jewish people (his fellow kinsmen). (Romans 9:2–3)
2.      People have doubted his love for the Jews because he has said grave things about their eternal destinies apart from Christ. (Romans 9:6–8)
3.      Paul’s anguish over their lostness proves his love for them, despite their doubts. He is not lying when he says he loves them. He is speaking to them and warning them from a genuine and concerned heart. (Romans 9:3)

Rejoicing and Weeping (07:52–12:50)

1.      Paul commands followers of Jesus to rejoice at all times. (Philippians 4:1)
2.      Paul said that we should rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Someone in our lives is always rejoicing, and someone is always weeping.
3.      It is possible to experience joy and sorrow at the same time, in the same heart. (2 Corinthians 6:8–10)
4.      The secret of the Christian life is learning to face abundance and need in the strength and satisfaction of God. (Philippians 4:11–13)

Study Questions

1.      Why does Paul feel the need to establish the truthfulness of his words in Romans 9:1–5? Why would anyone doubt him and his love for the Jews?


2.      How does Paul argue for his honesty and love? What evidence does he give?


3.      How would you explain that Paul can write Romans 9:3 and Philippians 4:1? How can one person experience both realities all the time? Read 2 Corinthians 6:8–10 and Philippians 4:11–13.

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      The Ethos of Christian Hedonism: Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing (article)
•      The Mystery of Sorrowful Rejoicing (interview)
•      My Anguish: My Kinsmen Are Accursed (sermon on Romans 9:1–5)

Romans 9:1–5, Part 3

Chosen by God, Cut Off from Christ

May 28, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:1–5
Topic: The Covenants
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

The crisis in the first verses of Romans 9 is the unbelief of Israel, God’s chosen people. How can we trust God’s promises to us, if his promises to Israel did not come true? In this lab, John Piper wrestles with the tragedy of Israel turning away from God after everything they have been given.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:06)

Loving the Lost Through Tears (01:06–04:55)

1.      The main point of a paragraph is not the only point, maybe not even the only life-and-death point in the paragraph.
2.      The main point of Romans 9:1–5 is that Jews are cursed and cut of from Christ, which creates a potential crisis regarding God’s promises.
3.      “I could wish …” means Paul is wishing he could, but he cannot. Something is stopping him from making that ultimate sacrifice. (Romans 9:3)
4.      That something is the covenant God has made with his people through Christ. Nothing can separate Paul from the love of God. (Romans 8:38–39)
5.      If Paul loved his kinsmen this much, and valued Christ this much, then Paul could never receive the punishment of hell. (Romans 8:28)

The Privileges of God’s People (04:55–08:36)

1.      Paul’s anguish over Israel’s unbelief is intense not only because they’re his kinsmen, but because they have fallen from such high privilege. (Romans 9:4–5)
2.      To Israel belongs the patriarchs of God’s people (the beginning) and God’s Messiah (the culmination) (the bookends of Israel’s privileges). (Romans 9:5)
3.      They were adopted out of Egypt as God’s chosen children. (Romans 9:4)
4.      They received special revelation of the glory of God at Mount Sinai and in the Tabernacle. (Romans 9:4)
5.      They were brought into a covenant with God and given a law to govern them. (Romans 9:4)
6.      They were given a way to worship God. (Romans 9:4)
7.      They were promised extraordinary things by God to carry them until Christ came. (Romans 9:4)

Study Questions

1.      Paul says, “I could wish …” (Romans 9:3). Why is it not possible for Paul to be cursed on behalf of his fellow unbelieving Jews?


2.      List all the privileges Paul mentions that belonged to Israel as God’s chosen people.


3.      Now, explain each of those privileges in your own words. How would you explain each to someone who had not read the Old Testament?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Damned for the Beloved? (article)
•      Can I Say ‘God Loves You’ to Unbelievers? (interview)
•      How Great Is the Honor of Israel? (sermon on Romans 9:1–5)

Romans 9:6–8

God’s Promises Never Fail

June 2, 2015
by John Piper
Topic: The Sovereignty of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

God made massive promises to Israel, but much of Israel has rejected the Christ. How, then, can we trust the promises of God to us today? In this lab, John Piper looks at promises God made to Israel in the Old Testament, how they are being fulfilled, and the implications for us.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:35)

Israel, But Not Israel (01:35–04:12)

1.      Not all who are Jewish by birth belong to true Israel. (Romans 9:6)
2.      The promises of God to Israel only apply to true Israel. (Romans 9:6)
3.      Those who belong to the true Israel are the children of Abraham. (Romans 9:7)
4.      The children of Abraham are divinely named, not just born. (Romans 9:7)

A Son, But Not a Son (04:12–05:35)

1.      Sarah arranged for Abraham to have a son by her servant Hagar. (Genesis 21:10)
2.      Ishmael is the offspring of Abraham, and Isaac is the offspring of Abraham, but only Isaac is named his offspring. (Genesis 21:12)
3.      Paul sees a selectivity among the offspring of Abraham in which God names who Abraham’s true offspring are.

Children of Promise (05:35–09:50)

1.      It is not the children of flesh (Jews by birth), but the children of promise that belong to the true Israel. (Romans 9:8)
2.      When God promises children to Abraham and Sarah, it’s clear that Abraham’s line would be a miracle, a sovereign act of God. (Genesis 17:15–17)
3.      Again, Abraham’s old age and Sarah’s barrenness meant their baby would be a miracle baby. This would have to be a son of God. (Romans 4:19–21)
4.      God does not just predict what will happen, but fulfills all he promises. (Romans 4:21)
5.      When God made promises to Israel, he intended those promises not for everyone in the ethnic line of Israel, but for the chosen ones among Israel who would be saved through faith in the promises.

Study Questions

1.      Paul says there is not one, but two Israels in Romans 8:6. What are the two Israels, and what is the difference between them?


2.      Paul quotes Genesis 21 in these verses. How does Genesis 21:10–12 help clarify how Paul is arguing for God’s faithfulness to his promises (despite Israel’s unbelief)?


3.      Now, read Romans 4:19–21. How do these verses help us understand Paul’s point in Romans 9:6–8?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      When It Seems Like God Did You Wrong (article)
•      Can We Trust the Bible? (interview)
•      God’s Word Stands, Part 1 and Part 2 (sermons on Romans 9:6–12)

Romans 9:9–13, Part 1

Jacob I Loved, But Esau I Hated

June 4, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:9–13
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism, The Sovereignty of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

In Romans 9, Paul wants to show us why we should believe in God’s unconditional election. Isaac and Ishmael were examples in the previous verses, and now Jacob and Esau are presented as better examples. In this lab, John Piper highlights the similarities and differences between these brothers.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:52)

Not Two Mothers, But One (00:52–04:16)

1.      The father of Isaac and Ishmael is Abraham (Romans 9:7–8). The father of Jacob and Esau is Isaac (Romans 9:10–13).
2.      Isaac and Ishmael had different mothers (Sarah and Hagar) and Jacob and Esau had the same mother (Rebekah).
3.      Even though they had the same father and the same mother, God chose the younger over the older. Esau served Jacob. (Romans 9:12–13)

Better Examples of God’s Election (04:16–08:10)

1.      Some might say Isaac was chosen over Ishmael because his mother was Egyptian. That distinction does not exist between Jacob and Esau. (Romans 9:10)
2.      Jacob and Esau are better examples of election because they had one mother, and not two. (Romans 9:10)
3.      Jacob and Esau are better examples of election because they were not yet born when God distinguishes between them. (Romans 9:11)
4.      Jacob and Esau are better examples of election because neither had done anything to deserve being chosen by God. The distinction was not in their works. (Romans 9:11)
5.      Jacob and Esau are better examples of election because Esau was older than Jacob, and therefore privileged. (Romans 9:12)

Summary So Far (08:10–10:17)

1.      The main point is that the word of God—the promises of God—have not failed. (Romans 9:6)
2.      The first reason is that not everyone descended from Israel belongs to true Israel. (Romans 9:7)
3.      The true offspring of Abraham are counted or named offspring through faith in the promise. (Romans 9:8)
4.      Isaac and Ishmael are examples of this reality (Romans 9:7–9), and Jacob and Esau are better examples (Romans 9:10–13).

Study Questions

1.      Read Romans 9:11–13, and name the similarities and distinctions between Jacob and Esau.


2.      What makes Jacob and Esau better (more compelling) examples of election than Isaac and Ishmael?


3.      Summarize Paul’s argument up to this point in Romans 9 for why we should not think that God’s word has failed because so much of Israel has not believed.

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Does God (Really) Desire All to Be Saved? (article)
•      Is Election Divine Favoritism? (interview)
•      Unconditional Election and the Invincible Purpose of God (sermon on Romans 9:6–13)

Romans 9:9–13, Part 2

Why God Chooses Whom He Chooses

June 9, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:9–13
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

God’s electing love is one of the most challenging realities in the Bible. In this lab, John Piper digs down underneath the doctrine of election to try and understand why God chooses who he chooses. How do the true sons and daughters of God become his children?

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:43)

Recap (00:43–03:27)

Paul is arguing that God’s word has not fallen (Romans 9:6), even though many Israelites have been cut off from Christ because they did not believe. But not all who are born of Israel are truly Israel. The true offspring of Abraham are not just born, but named (or chosen), as we saw with Isaac and Ishmael, and with Jacob and Esau.

The Purpose of Election (03:27–06:29)

1.      Abraham’s true offspring were named by God. Isaac was not more Jewish than Ishmael. He was chosen. (Romans 9:8)
2.      Jacob was not chosen over Esau because of his deeds. It is not anything in us that is the reason for us being chosen by God. (Romans 9:11)
3.      God does the calling (or naming, or choosing). (Romans 9:11)
4.      God does it this way “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue.” (Romans 9:11)

No Works, Not Not One (06:29–09:36)

1.      It looks like the word of God has failed because some in Israel have not believed. (Romans 9:6)
2.      Paul is saying that God’s word was meant for, and therefore only applies only to, a select group within Israel. (Romans 9:11)
3.      This group is not brought about by anything in them. No, God is naming these offspring. He is electing them.
4.      “Works” (Romans 9:11) means any distinction resident in us—whether physical pedigree or spiritual sensitivity or moral accomplishment. God does not choose us because of anything about us.

Study Questions

1.      Read Romans 9:6–13. According to Paul, how do the true offspring of Abraham become his offspring?


2.      Paul says that God has a “purpose” in election. How does that change how we think about Paul’s crisis in Romans 9:6 (the main point of Roman 9)?


3.      When Paul uses the word “works” in Romans 9:11, what is he trying to communicate about election? How does it relate to us today?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Five Reasons to Embrace Unconditional Election (article)
•      Is Election Divine Favoritism? (interview)
•      Unconditional Election and the Invincible Purpose of God (sermon on Romans 9:6–13)

Romans 9:9–13, Part 3

The Mystery of Election

June 11, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Malachi 1:1–4 and Romans 9:9–13
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

What did it mean for God to “love” Jacob and “hate” Esau, even before they were born? How can God elect some and still be good? In this lab, John Piper narrows in on the question of election, and why it’s good news for those who will believe.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–04:04)

God’s Love and Hate (04:04–06:40)

1.      God declares his love for Israel. (Malachi 1:2)
2.      Israel questions God’s love for them. (Malachi 1:2)
3.      God reminds Israel that neither Jacob nor Esau was deserving, and yet God loved Jacob, and not Esau. (Malachi 1:2–3)
4.      “Love” (Malachi 1:2) means choosing Jacob despite his being undeserving, and “hate” (Malachi 1:3) means forever angry because of wickedness (Malachi 1:4).

Was Esau More Wicked? (06:40–08:04)

1.      But Romans 9:11 says that Jacob and Esau had not done anything wrong when God chose Jacob. How, then, could God “hate” Esau for his wickedness?
2.      When Esau is born and grows up, he becomes the wickedness outwardly that already exists in him inwardly, being born in Adam. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
3.      Therefore, Esau, being born in wickedness as a son of Adam, was always deserving of the hatred of God. (Romans 9:8)

Summary of Election (08:04–11:12)

1.      God chooses who will believe and undeservingly be saved in spite of their sin.
2.      God thus decides who will rebel and deservingly be lost because of their sin.
3.      God’s election is never against our desires. Judgment is never put upon someone wishing they were a Christian.

Study Questions

1.      Look back over Romans 9:1–13, and try to explain Paul’s argument up to this point in Romans 9.


2.      Romans 9:13 quotes Malachi 1:1–4. Why did Paul quote Malachi? How does it help his argument at the beginning of Romans 9?


3.      Relying on Romans 9:1–13 and Malachi 1:1–4, try and define what it means for God to “love” Jacob and “hate” Esau.

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Does God Desire All to Be Saved? (book)
•      How Do I Explain Election over Brunch? (interview)
•      Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election (sermon on Romans 9:6–13)

Romans 9:14–18, Part 1

Is God Just to Choose Some?

June 16, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:14–18
Topic: The Holiness of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

God’s unconditional election causes many to say that he must be unrighteous. He can’t choose some and not others, and be good and just. In this lab, John Piper begins to address this objection by studying the surface structure of Paul’s argument.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:00)

The Righteousness of God (01:00–03:37)

1.      There is no unrighteousness with God. (Romans 9:14)
2.      Paul feels the need to defend God’s righteousness because he has just said God chose Jacob over Esau before they were even born or had done anything good or bad. (Romans 9:11–13)
3.      Some might interpret this kind of election—not based on anything in the person—as an unjust way for God to save or not save people. (Romans 9:14)

The Surface Structure (03:37–07:16)

1.      Main Point: Romans 9:14
2.      Grounding Statement (“For”): Romans 9:15
3.      Inference (“So then”): Romans 9:16
4.      Grounding Statement (“For”): Romans 9:17
5.      Inference (“So then”): Romans 9:18

The Deeper Structure: An Illustration (07:16–10:15)

Study Questions

1.      Why would someone suggest God is unrighteous at this point in Paul’s argument (Romans 9:14)?


2.      Identify the relationship between each verse in Romans 9:14–18. Explain the relationship between verses fourteen and fifteen, fifteen and sixteen, and so on.


3.      Write a couple examples of statements with ground clauses (“for” or “because”) and then a couple examples of statements with inferences (“therefore” or “so then”).

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Joy Designed (article)
•      God’s Aim in Election, and Our Personal Holiness (interview)
•      The Freedom and Justice of God in Unconditional Election (sermon on Romans 9:14–18)

Romans 9:14–18, Part 2

God Acts for the Sake of His Glory

June 18, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:14–18
Topic: The Glory of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

Many in Paul’s day were accusing God of being unrighteous in electing some and not others. In this lab, John Piper explains what the righteousness of God is, showing his definition from several texts. In doing so, he shows that God indeed does all he does for the glory of his own name.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:46)

The Crisis of God’s Election (00:46–03:45)

1.      God is righteous because (“For”) he said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Romans 9:15)
2.      Election is not because of works—or anything in man outside of God—but because of him who calls. (Romans 9:11)
3.      Paul quotes Exodus 33:19 into the controversy in Romans 9 over election. (Romans 9:15)

God’s Freedom (03:45–07:06)

1.      Moses asks God to show him his glory, and responds that he will proclaim his own name (Exodus 33:18–19). This means there is a close connection between the glory of God and the name of God.
2.      A vital piece of Yahweh’s identity is his complete freedom and independence from outside influence. He acts only according to his own dispositions. This freedom is his glory. (Exodus 33:19)
3.      “I am who I am” is saying the same thing about God’s freedom and independence (Exodus 3:13–15). God is not dependent on or subject to anyone.

God’s Righteousness (07:06–10:17)

1.      Paul says this freedom of God to choose Jacob and not Esau is not unrighteous. (Romans 9:14)
2.      Unrighteousness suppresses the truth about God, specifically it trades his glory away for images. (Romans 1:18–23)
3.      Sin is anything that falls short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
4.      God looks unrighteous in passing over sins (Romans 3:25), because it looks like he does not value his own glory.
5.      His righteousness is his esteeming, valuing, and upholding the value of the glory of God.
6.      For God, to be righteous is to uphold his name and his glory. (Psalm 143:11)

Summary (10:17–12:53)

Study Questions

1.      Read Exodus 33:18–19. When Moses asks to see God’s glory, why might God say he will proclaim his name? What was he declaring about himself in 33:19?


2.      Read Romans 1:18–23. How is Paul defining unrighteousness? How does unrighteousness relate to the glory of God in these verses?


3.      Romans 3:23–25 takes up the same issue Paul is wrestling with in Romans 9:14–18. How does Romans 3 help enlighten the dilemma and Paul’s argument in Romans 9 concerning God’s righteousness?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Joy Designed (article)
•      God’s Aim in Election, and Our Personal Holiness (interview)
•      The Fame of His Name and the Freedom of Mercy (sermon on Romans 9:14–18)
•      The Justification of God (book on Romans 9:1–23)

Romans 9:14–18, Part 3

Saved Not by Human Will or Effort

June 23, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:14–18
Topic: The Sovereignty of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

If God is as big and sovereign as we have seen so far in Romans 9, that must have implications for us. In this lab, John Piper explores the question of human free will by examining the absolute sovereignty of God. He also points to a concrete example elsewhere in the New Testament.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–04:20)

Not Our Will Be Done (04:20–07:03)

1.      “… not on human will or exertion …” means literally, “not on him who will or on him who runs …” (Romans 9:16)
2.      “It” in Romans 8:16 refers to God’s election in Romans 9:11 and Romans 9:15.
3.      “Not on human will” (Romans 9:16) corresponds with “not because of works” (Romans 9:11).
4.      “But on God” (Romans 9:16) corresponds with “because of him who calls” (Romans 9:11).
5.      Therefore, Paul is simply restating the same idea he has already articulated in Romans 9:11, but in wider terms for the sake of application.

God Does What Titus Does (07:03–10:18)

1.      There is no such thing as ultimate human self-determination. (Romans 9:16)
2.      God put care into the heart of Titus for the Corinthians. (2 Corinthians 8:16)
3.      And yet Titus is said to have cared for them of his own accord. (2 Corinthians 8:17)
4.      When Paul sees Titus’s care for the Corinthians—real, meaningful, human passion and activity—Paul knows that God has done it. (2 Corinthians 8:17)

Study Questions

1.      Romans 9:16 begins with “So then …” Explain how Paul’s inference works. How does what comes before ground what comes after?


2.      What is the “it” in Romans 9:16?


3.      Read 2 Corinthians 8:16–17. How do these verses confirm or enlighten Romans 9:16?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      The Argument of Romans 9:14–16 (article)
•      Do We Have Free Will to Choose Christ? (interview)
•      The Fame of His Name and the Freedom of Mercy (sermon on Romans 9:14–18)
•      The Justification of God (book on Romans 9:1–23)

Romans 9:14–18, Part 4

God Has Mercy on Whom He Wills

June 25, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:14–18
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

At this point in Paul’s argument, he introduces Pharaoh and the awful confrontation between God and the Egyptian leader in Exodus. He uses this history to explain God’s absolute freedom in election, and to show how this freedom is God’s wrapped up in God’s name and glory.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:23)

Not By Human Will (02:23–04:43)

The “so then” in Romans 9:16 and the “for” at the beginning of Romans 9:17 mean verses Romans 9:15 and Romans 9:17 are meant to support verse 16, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”

Moses and Pharaoh (04:43–06:10)

1.      Pharaoh, as an example, is not a Jewish leader (like Moses), but a Gentile leader. (Romans 9:17)
2.      Pharaoh is raised up not for mercy, but for hardening. (Romans 9:17–18)
3.      Paul is developing a double argument. Moses and mercy correspond to Jacob and his election (Romans 9:15). Pharaoh and hardening correspond to Esau and his rejection (Romans 9:17).

God’s Righteousness in Election (06:10–09:58)

1.      God’s absolute freedom is part of what it means for him to be God. This freedom is an essential part of his name and glory. (Romans 9:15)
2.      When God acts to show his power and his name, he acts righteously. (Romans 9:17)
3.      God is righteous in his unconditional election, which is expressing God’s freedom from all controlling influences outside himself, which is an essential part of God’s name or glory.

Study Questions

1.      Explain the “For” at the beginning of Romans 9:17. How does what comes after “For” explain what came before?


2.      How do Moses and Pharaoh relate to Jacob and Esau in Paul’s argument in Romans 9?


3.      Do you see a connection regarding God’s name between Romans 9:15 and Romans 9:17? What do we learn about God’s name in each verse?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Is There Injustice With Our God? (article)
•      Is Election Divine Favoritism? (interview)
•      The Fame of His Name and the Freedom of Mercy (sermon on Romans 9:14–18)

Romans 9:14–18, Part 5

God Exalted Him to Crush Him

June 30, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Exodus 7:3–4, Exodus 4:21, and Romans 9:14–18
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

Paul defends God’s freedom to mercifully save or righteously harden in Romans 9:14–18. In this lab, John Piper looks at Pharaoh as an example from the Old Testament. Can God be just in hardening Pharaoh? And is mercy or judgment a greater goal in the mind of God?

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–03:32)

Mercy and Justice (03:32–05:46)

1.      The stress is not merely on mercy, but also on justice and hardening. (Romans 9:18)
2.      God has absolute freedom in regard to his mercy and his justice. (Romans 9:18)
3.      This holds with the examples of Moses and Pharaoh, Jacob and Esau, and the children of promise and children of the flesh. (Romans 9:6–17)
4.      Just as it is with God’s mercy, God’s hardening is not based on human will or effort. (Romans 9:16, 18)

I Will Harden Whom I Will Harden (05:46–08:23)

1.      There is no reference in Exodus 9:16 (quoted in Romans 9:17) to the hardening of Pharaoh. Paul expects us to know that context from the story in Exodus (Romans 9:18).
2.      God tells Moses that he (God) will harden Pharaoh’s heart. (Exodus 4:21)
3.      Part of God’s design in saving Israel is to harden Pharaoh’s heart even in the face of multiple miracles. (Exodus 7:3–4)

How Can God Be Just? (08:23–11:22)

1.      The first thing we must say is that we do not know entirely how God’s sovereignty and justice are resolved in the end. It is a mystery, but not a complete mystery.
2.      Isaiah says that God even hardens Israel’s hearts. (Isaiah 63:17)
3.      At least in this case, God seems not to be actively inflicting a hardening, but instead withholding himself (which is itself the hardening). (Isaiah 64:7)
4.      Are mercy and judgment equal goals in God’s mind? Or does one serve the other?
5.      God’s mercy is served by God’s hardening. (Romans 9:22–23)

Summary of Romans 9:1–18 (11:22–12:50)

1.      Most of Israel is cut off from Christ. (Romans 9:1–5)
2.      Yet the word of God has not failed. (Romans 9:6a)
3.      For the promise was only to the elect. (Romans 9:6b–13)
4.      In this, God is righteous. (Romans 9:15)
5.      For God’s righteousness is his commitment to his name, and essential to his name is his freedom. (Romans 9:14–18)

Study Questions

1.      Paul mentions Pharaoh in Romans 9:17–18. Read Exodus 4:21 and Exodus 7:3–4. How do these verses help us understand why Paul mentions Pharaoh here, and what he means by “harden” in Romans 9:18?


2.      Based on Romans 9—and any other texts you can think of—are mercy and judgment (Romans 9:18) equal goals in God’s plan?


3.      Look back over Romans 9:1–18. Summarize, in your own words, the major points in Paul’s argument up until this point in the chapter (for instance, John identifies five main points).

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Is There Injustice With Our God? (article)
•      If Our Will Is Not Free, Are We Accountable? (interview)
•      The Hardening of Pharaoh and the Hope of the World (sermon on Exodus 9:8–17)

Romans 9:19

None Can Resist God

July 14, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:19
Topic: The Sovereignty of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

If God was governing Pharaoh, how could God hold Pharaoh responsible? Isn’t God the guilty one? In this lab, John Piper begins to unfold an answer to one of the Bible’s most difficult questions. If God is sovereign over us, even our sin, why are we held accountable for it?

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:29)

Why Is God Not Guilty? (01:29–04:57)

1.      God is governing Pharaoh’s will, so that Pharaoh will not let God’s people go. This God-wrought rebellion allows God to show more of his power (in judgment). (Romans 9:14–18)
2.      Paul asks how God can find fault with Pharaoh if God was governing Pharaoh. (Romans 9:19)
3.      Romans 3:5–7 presents a similar problem. If my (or Pharaoh’s) sin is bringing about glory for God, then why am I at fault?

What Is God’s Will? (04:43–07:45)

1.      God’s will is to show his power and make a name for himself. (Exodus 9:16)
2.      God’s will is that all people know that he is the Lord, and that he is sovereign over all his enemies. (Exodus 10:1–2)
3.      God’s will is that his wonders be multiplied on the earth and in history. (Exodus 11:9)
4.      God’s will is to get glory. (Exodus 14:16–18)

Who Can Resist God’s Will? (07:45–11:30)

1.      Paul’s question in Romans 9:19 is a rhetorical question. He doesn’t expect an answer. He’s making a statement with his question. Asking his question is the same as declaring that no one can resist God’s will.
2.      We do not have ultimate self-determination. Ultimately, God’s will holds sway. (Romans 9:19)
3.      Our will still counts. We have a real choice, and moral accountability for our choices.
4.      If God’s sovereignty and your accountability seem logically impossible to us, we need to submit our limited minds (and logic) to the word of God.
5.      Paul’s question: If God decisively and ultimately governs our will, and we sin, why does he still judge/condemn us? We’ll look at Paul’s answer next time.

Study Questions

1.      Read Romans 9:19. Looking at what comes before this verse, why might someone ask Paul’s question, “Why does [God] still find fault?”?


2.      Read Exodus 9:16, 10:1–12, 11:9, and 14:16–18. What do you learn about the will of God in these passages?


3.      What is Paul saying with the second question in Romans 9:19? What answer is he looking for, and what does that say about the relationship between our will and God’s will?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      How to Query God (article)
•      Do We Have Free Will to Choose Christ? (interview)
•      The Free Will of the Wind (sermon on John 3:1–10)

Romans 9:20

Who Are You to Question God?

July 16, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:20
Topic: The Sovereignty of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

Certain truths about God in the Bible are confusing and even troubling to some. In this lab, John Piper corrects one way of questioning God, and encourages another. Questions are welcome, even necessary part of the Christian life, but they must be offered to God with the right attitude.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:41)

Questions or Objections? (01:41–04:23)

1.      What does it mean to “answer back” to God (Romans 9:20)?
2.      Is Paul saying there are no questions allowed, or is he confronting a certain kind of attitude in the questions?
3.      The same word for “answer back” is used in Luke 14:5–6. In that instance, “answer back” is not about legitimate inquiries, but objections.
4.      Paul is not prohibiting questions, but objections to God and his will.

Two Kinds of Questions (04:23–07:44)

1.      Look at Zechariah in Luke 1:18–20. The question, “How shall I know this?” communicates skepticism and unbelief. (Luke 1:18)
2.      There is a kind of question that we ask God that makes him angry. (Luke 1:19–20)
3.      Now look at Mary in Luke 1:34–35. Her question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” is a genuine cry for help in understanding.
4.      Therefore God, through his angel, responds patiently and graciously.

The Differences Between God and Man (07:44–11:30)

1.      God is the creator, and man is the created.
2.      God is infinite, and man is finite.
3.      God is utterly self-sufficient, and man is totally dependent on God for everything.
4.      God is all-knowing, and man is little-knowing.
5.      God is never erring, and man is often erring.
6.      Therefore, how can we, mere men, presume to object to that God and his will.

Study Questions

1.      What does “answer back” mean in Romans 9:20? For some help, the same verb is used in Luke 14:6.


2.      Paul is correcting a certain kind of question. Study Zechariah (Luke 1:18–20) and Mary (Luke 1:34–35). What are the differences in their questions to God? What are the differences in God’s responses?


3.      Write down a list of as many things as you can that separate God from us. What makes him different from man? These can be from anywhere in the Bible. How should that list change how we respond to God and his sovereign will?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      God Desires All to Be Saved, and Grants Repentance to Some (article)
•      Personal Comfort in God’s Sovereignty Over Evil (interview)
•      The Sovereignty of God: “My Counsel Shall Stand, and I Will Accomplish All My Purpose” (sermon on Isaiah 46:8–11)

Romans 9:20–21

Why Have You Made Me This Way?

July 21, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:20–21
Topic: The Sovereignty of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

It’s in the nature of us, as creatures, to question our Creator. Why did you make me like this, and not like him or him? Why did you make him like that, and not like me? Why do some believe the good news, and others reject it. In this lab, John Piper explores the relationship between the Potter and his clay.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–01:56)

The Pots’ Rebellion (01:56–04:25)

1.      Romans 9:20 is a quote from Isaiah 29:16 and Isaiah 45:9.
2.      A pot makes a mistake when it claims it was not made (deny), or when it says its potter did not know what he was doing (find fault). (Isaiah 29:16)
3.      A pot also errs when it pretends to know pots better than the potter (suggesting the potter should have made him differently). (Isaiah 45:9)

The Potter’s Scorecard (04:25–06:41)

1.      Pots do ask the Potter all the time, “Why have you made me like this?” But they ought not ask God in this way. It’s a protest, not a genuine question. (Romans 9:20)
2.      The rightness of a potter is not determined by anything in the clay, but by the wisdom in the decisions he makes with the lump he’s given. (Romans 9:21)
3.      The potter is evaluated by whether he fulfills holy purpose with the clay he’s been given. (Romans 9:20)
4.      God is the potter, and he decides what is right.

Meet the Potter (06:41–9:34)

1.      God is the potter, and he decides what is right, and wise, and fitting.
2.      God desires to make known his power, and the riches of his glory. (Romans 9:22–23)
3.      If those desires require vessels for dishonorable use, than he is right to make them. (Romans 9:21)
4.      The vessels for honorable use (mercy) are Jacob and Moses. And the vessels for dishonorable use (hardening) are Esau and Pharaoh.

Study Questions

1.      Read Isaiah 29:16 and Isaiah 45:9. What mistakes do pots make in relationship to their potter?


2.      Considering a potter’s relationship to his clay, what right is Paul speaking of in Romans 9:21? How then would you explain that same right for God in his relationship to human beings?


3.      Looking over Romans 9 so far, which people are the vessels for dishonorable use, and which are the vessels for honorable use?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Was Katrina Intelligent Design? (article)
•      God’s Sovereignty Over Evil in My Life (interview)
•      He Commanded and They Were Created (sermon on Psalm 148:5)

Romans 9:22–23, Part 1

God Wants to Show His Wrath

July 23, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:22–23
Topic: The Wrath of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

John Piper says, “In all the Bible, there are no more weighty, or ultimate, or difficult words than Romans 9:22–23.” These verses tackle the issues of God’s sovereignty and God’s wrath. How can God judge those whom he has hardened?

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:04)

God’s Purpose in God’s Wrath (02:04–07:30)

1.      Why is there judgment or wrath if none can resist God’s will (Romans 9:19)? How can God fault Esau or Pharaoh, if he hardened them?
2.      Paul does not refuse the questions, as if it is not okay to wonder why God created and rules the world the way he does. He answers the question. (Romans 9:21)
3.      If God endured vessels of wrath in order to make known his glory to the vessels of mercy (Romans 9:22–23), then no legitimate objection can be raised. He has clearly and sufficiently answered the question being raised.

Confirmation from Romans 9 (07:30–11:41)

1.      What kind of participle is “desiring” (Romans 9:22)? Is it communicating “although” or “because”?
2.      Romans 9:17 suggest the same motive: God wants to show his power, and make known his name. Because that’s God’s desire, he raises Pharaoh up, hardens him, and crushes him.
3.      That same motive and structure exists in Romans 9:22–23 regarding how God deals with all people, and not just Esau and Pharaoh.

Study Questions

1.      Explain Romans 9:22–23 in your own words. How is Paul answering the question of whether God can judge those he has hardened?


2.      Is the participle “desiring” in Romans 9:22 communicating “although” or “because”? Is his desire a concession or the purpose of his dealing with the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy?


3.      Reread Romans 9:14–18. How does that confirm or deny how you are reading Romans 9:22–23?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Biblical Texts to Show God’s Zeal for His Own Glory (article)
•      Your Life’s Greatest Problem (interview)
•      Why Did God Create the World? (sermon on Isaiah 43:1–7)

Romans 9:22–23, Part 2

The Ultimate Purpose of the Universe

July 28, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:22–23
Topic: The Wrath of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

Why would God prepare some people for wrath and destruction? It’s one of the biggest, weightiest questions in all the Bible. In this lab, John Piper uncovers the purpose above every other purpose in the universe, and points to the role wrath plays in God’s bigger design.

Outline

Prayer/Recap (00:00–02:00)

Vessels of Wrath (02:00–06:00)

1.      The context of God’s patience with the “vessels of wrath” (Romans 9:22) is Pharaoh’s hardening and Egypt’s judgment. God patiently sent ten plagues to warn Egypt, but they rejected them all.
2.      The vessels of wrath really are suited for wrath (“prepared for destruction”) (Romans 9:22). There is real fault, real guilt, and real blame.
3.      Therefore, nobody who comes under God’s judgment will ever be able to say they do not deserve it.
4. God is sovereign over the design of each vessel, those for wrath and those for mercy. (Romans 9:22)

God of Patience (06:00–08:07)

1.      God really is patient in dealing with the vessels of wrath. (Romans 9:22)
2.      Pharaoh had opportunities to repent, like he did more than once. (Exodus 10:16–19).
3.      Had Pharaoh stood by that repentance, God would not have brought wrath and destruction.

The Purpose of Everything (08:07–11:52)

1.      God’s ultimate purpose is not wrath or judgment, but “in order to make known the riches of glory for vessels of mercy.” (Romans 9:23)
2.      This different set of vessels are suited or fitted for mercy and salvation. God makes such people. (Romans 9:23)
3.      God fits some for mercy so that he can make known the riches of his glory. We need both wrath and mercy to see God’s mercy clearly and powerfully.
4.      The ultimate purpose of the universe is that vessels of mercy would see all the riches of God’s glory.

Study Questions

1.      What does it mean that the vessels of wrath are “prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22)? Who does the preparing, and for what purpose?


2.      Is the patience described in Romans 9:22 real or not? If it’s real, how would you explain it to someone in light of the judgment God eventually brings?


3.      Based on Romans 9:23, what is God’s ultimate purpose in his mercy and wrath? Why would he create or design two kinds of people like this?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Why God Created the Universe (article)
•      If God Is So Happy, Why Did He Create the Non-Elect? (interview)
•      God’s Ultimate Purpose: Vessels of Mercy Knowing the Riches of His Glory (sermon on Romans 9:23–24)

Romans 9:22–23, Part 3

Jonathan Edwards and His Angry God

July 30, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:22–23
Topic: The Wrath of God
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

If people’s hearts are ultimately governed by God, how can God find fault with their hardness and rejection? In this lab, John Piper looks to Jonathan Edwards to understand why the judgment of God is essential for our fullest knowledge of him, and therefore our fullest enjoyment of him.

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Five Truths About the Wrath of God (article)
•      The Doctrine of the Wrath of God (interview)
•      Pour Out Your Indignation Upon Them (sermon on Psalm 69)

Romans 9:24–29, Part 1

The Circumcision of the Heart

August 4, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 2:28–29 and Romans 9:24–29
Topic: Faith
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

How could God be faithful to his promises if so many in Israel have fallen away, rejected the Messiah, and not been saved? In this lab, John Piper uncovers the next progression in Paul’s argument for God’s trustworthiness: the Gentiles are included as children in God’s invincible plan and promises.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:55)

Who Are We? (00:55–06:20)

1.      The new piece in Paul’s argument for God’s faithfulness to his word is the inclusion of the Gentiles as children of promise. (Romans 9:24)
2.      Not all who were born into Israel truly or ultimately belong to Israel. (Romans 9:7)
3.      Based on the previous verses, “us” (Romans 9:24) is referring to the children of God, the elect, the vessels of mercy, the children of promise, and the true Israel.
4.      Some who were not born into Israel will truly and ultimately belong to Israel. (Romans 9:24)

Jews and Gentiles Alike (06:20–10:09)

1.      What marks a true Jew—a member of true Israel—is the condition of a person’s heart, not their flesh or lineage. (Romans 2:28–29)
2.      Paul cities Hosea to show that Gentiles will be included in God’s people. (Romans 9:25–26)
3.      Paul cites Isaiah to show that some Jews will not be included in God’s people. (Romans 9:27–29)
4.      Paul evidently thinks both of these points is critical to demonstrating God’s faithfulness to his promises. (Romans 9:6, 24–29)

Study Questions

1.      What is the dramatic new piece in Paul’s argument for the faithfulness of God to his word in Romans 9:24?


2.      Based on everything we’ve read so far in Romans 9 (and anything else you can remember or find in Romans up until this point), how would you define the “us” in Romans 9:24?


3.      Read Romans 2:28–29. How do these verses help us understand who God’s people truly are?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Did the Old Testament Teach You Could Be a True Jew? (article)
•      God’s Fame and Global Missions (interview)
•      The Gentiles Are Included (sermon on Romans 9:24–29)

Romans 9:24–29, Part 2

Partakers of God’s Promises

August 6, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 9:24–29
Topic: The Covenants
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

When did God decide to include the nations in his chosen people? The apostle Paul cites Old Testament passages to show that God always intended to bring Gentiles into his family. In this lab, John Piper explores Paul’s use of the Old Testament to give us outside of Israel hope.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer/Recap (00:00–04:38)

Not My People (04:38–07:45)

1.      Paul wants us to see in Hosea that God’s call to Israel implies that Gentiles will be included. (Romans 9:25–26)
2.      Paul takes the phrase “not my people” seriously (Romans 9:26). If Jews utterly rejected by God can become children of God again, then Gentiles have the same hope.
3.      These Gentiles have become sons of the living God, and are truly Jewish after all. (Romans 2:28–29)

Not All Israel (07:45–09:03)

1.      Not all who are of Israel are truly of Israel. (Romans 9:24)
2.      Isaiah makes clear that God never intended that every Jew would be partakers of the promises in the Old Testament. (Romans 9:27)
3.      Jewishness doesn’t guarantee that one wouldn’t be counted and judged with Gentile peoples like Sodom and Gomorrah. (Romans 9:29)

No Distinction in Christ (09:03–11:32)

1.      God has promised that the partakers of God’s promises would not only come from Israel, but also from among the Gentiles. (Romans 9:24)
2.      This is the great mystery Paul describes in Ephesians 3:4–6. The Gentiles are fellow heirs with the Jews and partakers of the promise through the gospel.
3.      In Christ, all the distinctions between people are leveled (Galatians 3:26–29). God saves people of every kind through the gospel, and makes them partakers of his promises to Israel.

Study Questions

1.      How is Paul using Hosea 2:23 (cited in Romans 9:25–26) to explain Romans 9:24? Why does Paul quote that particular verse here?


2.      And how is Paul using Isaiah 10:22 and 1:9 (cited in Romans 9:27–29) to explain himself? Why does he quote those particular verses here?


3.      Now, read Ephesians 3:4–6 and Galatians 3:26–29. How do those other texts from Paul help make clear his meaning in Romans 9:24–29?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      I Know the Plans I Have for You (article)
•      What Must I Believe to Be Saved? (interview)
•      The Gentiles Are Included (sermon on Romans 9:24–29)

Romans 9:30–33

The Great Antidote to Shame

August 11, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 10:1–4 and Romans 9:30–33
Topic: Justification
Series: God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise

Principle for Bible Reading

Has God’s word of promise failed because so many in Israel have failed to believe and receive it? In the last lab in this Romans 9 series, John Piper looks at a second major piece of Paul’s argument for the faithfulness of God to his promises. He also summarizes what we’ve learned from the whole chapter.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:04)

Has God’s Word Failed? (01:04–04:36)

1.      What shall we say then to what? The truth that Gentiles are included as vessels of mercy and children of promise. (Romans 9:24, 30)
2.      Paul’s answer so far in Romans 9:6–29, especially in Roman 9:11, has been unconditional election.
3.      He gives a second answer in Romans 9:30–33. God requires people to be holy and righteous, so how do Gentiles become righteous?

Israel’s Faith Failed (04:36–10:26)

1.      This righteousness comes by faith. (Romans 9:30)
2.      Israel did not attain the righteousness that the law required. (Romans 9:31)
3.      Why? Because they pursued it as if it were based on works, and not on faith. (Romans 9:32)
4.      Israel failed to believe in Jesus as the one to whom the law was pointing. (Romans 9:33; 10:4)
5.      Instead of relying on Christ for righteousness, the Jewish people tried to produce a righteousness of their own.

Summary of Romans 9 (10:26–13:36)

It looked like the word of God had failed because so much of Israel had fallen away and failed to receive the promise. (Romans 9:6)

1.      The word of God has not failed because of God’s unconditional election. God decides who—Jew or Gentile—is the true Israel through election. (Romans 9:6–29)
2.      The word of God has not failed because justification comes on the basis of Christ for righteousness through faith alone. (Romans 9:30–33)

Study Questions

1.      When Paul asks, “What then shall we say?” at the beginning of Romans 9:30, what is he responding to? What statement or idea is making him ask that question?


2.      Some thought the word of God had failed (Romans 9:6). How would you summarize Paul’s answer to that claim so far in Romans 9:6–29?


3.      What new argument does Paul make in Romans 9:30–33? How could Gentiles who have not even pursued righteousness according to the law be made righteous before God?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Related Resources

•      Your Joy Rests on Jesus’s Righteousness (article)
•      Can My Good Works Outweigh My Bad? (interview)
•      The Gentiles Have Obtained Righteousness by Faith (sermon on Romans 9:30–33)

Romans 11:28–32

Our Disobedience and God’s Mercy

September 23, 2014
by John Piper
Scripture: Romans 11:28–32
Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism

Principle for Bible Reading

When you see personal pronouns (e.g. he, she, you, they, or his, hers, your, their), identify to whom they are referring. Is the writer speaking about his audience? If so, who is the audience? Is he speaking about Jews or Gentiles? Believers or nonbelievers? To understand the passage, we have to identify the relevant parties.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:52)

Observations (00:52–05:59)

1.      The Jews became enemies of God for the sake of the Gentiles (Romans 11:28).
2.      The Jews are loved by God because they’ve been chosen by God (Romans 11:28).
3.      God’s election is sure and his love cannot be revoked (Romans 11:29).
4.      The Gentiles also disobeyed, but they received mercy because of Israel’s disobedience (Romans 11:30).
5.      The Jews will be shown the same mercy that the Gentiles received (Romans 11:31).
6.      God’s deep purpose in all of this is to have mercy on both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 11:32).

Summary (05:59–09:43)

1.      Israel is elect, and that election cannot be removed (Romans 11:29).
2.      Despite their election, Israel has become disobedient (Romans 11:28–32).
3.      At the same time, the Gentiles were disobedient (Romans 11:30).
4.      Because of Jewish disobedience, Gentiles now also receive mercy (Romans 11:30).
5.      By the same mercy the Gentiles receive, Israel will also be saved (Romans 11:32).

Application (09:43–11:06)

1.      We are all, Jew and Gentile, are utterly dependent on God’s mercy.
2.      Neither Jew nor Gentile has any reason to boast because each of our disobedience ultimately serves to save the other.

Study Questions

1.      Track the personal pronouns in these (e.g. they, you, your, etc.). To whom is each referring?


2.      Based on these verses, why do the Gentiles receive mercy? Why does Israel (eventually) receive mercy?


3.      What does the “that” mean in Romans 11:32? How is it connecting the two phrases in that verse?

Related Resources

•      Seven Details to See in Your Past (article)
•      Is God Fed Up with Me? (interview)
•      God’s Design for History: The Glory of His Mercy (sermon on Romans 11:28–32)

Romans 12:19–20

Vengeance Is Mine

April 14, 2015
by John Piper
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:22–23 and Romans 12:19–20
Topic: The Wrath of God

Principle for Bible Reading

We all have been sinned against, in large or small ways. The Bible calls us not to avenge ourselves, but to entrust the pain and offense to God, who judges justly. In this lab, John Piper reminds us of the promise that God will repay every wrong ever committed against us.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–00:44)

God Will Repay (00:44–03:24)

1.      When it comes to personal vengeance or payback, surrender it. Do not act like it didn’t happen, but give it over to God. (Romans 12:19)
2.      God promises to repay evil done against you. (Hebrews 12:19)
3.      Believing this promise will free us from the felt need to avenge ourselves.

The Example of Jesus (03:24–05:15)

1.      Jesus did not revile or threaten in return. (1 Peter 2:23)
2.      Instead, Jesus (even Jesus) trusted himself to the one who judges justly. Vengeance is God’s. (1 Peter 2:23)
3.      All things will be settled rightly by the one who judges justly. God always gets it right.
4.      If you have a cause that you believe is just, and you believe you’ve received an injustice, the Bible calls you to entrust it to the judge.

What Revenge Says About God (05:15–07:03)

1.      God always punishes every wrong.
2.      He punishes the evil in hell (for those who do not repent), or on the cross (for those who repent).
3.      To take vengeance yourself is to say hell is an inadequate punishment or the cross is an inadequate sacrifice.

Study Questions

1.      According to Romans 12:19–20, why should we not try to avenge ourselves? What promise keeps us from taking vengeance ourselves?


2.      Read 1 Peter 2:22–23. Explain how Jesus lived our the principles of faith in Romans 12:19–20.


3.      If hell is the punishment for sin, and the cross paid the penalty for sin, what do our attempts to avenge ourselves say about hell? About the cross?

Related Resources

•      The Avenger (article)
•      Do I Need to Repent If Christ Died for All My Sins? (interview)
•      Do Not Avenge Yourselves, But Give Place to Wrath (sermon on Romans 12:16–20)

Piper, J. (2014–2015). Look at the Book Labs (Joh 1,14–Röm 12,20). Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God.

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