A Collection of Topical Articles

I love to write through chapters of the Bible or spend time on thinking and writing through Biblical topics. Here is that collection, arranged easily to be able to find what you are looking for. Here is the list of things I have written on.

 

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Sin Brought the Law, the Law Brought Death—Romans 5:20-21

"The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:20-21)

Are you surprised to know that the law (think ten commandments and everything found in the first few books of the Bible) gives power to sin?

Yup, you heard me right; the law makes sin more powerful. It took a silent force operating in the world and made it a destructive, all-encompassing enslaving force because God wrote it down and now there is a standard.

In fact, the law brought the death Adam was warned about (Gen 2:17) but until the law, God did not even consider nor hold sin against humanity (Rom. 5:13), but afterwards, there was a lot to condemn humanity with.

But admittedly, the law serves its purpose well, which is to highlight sin. To make it apparent, to show us we can never be free of it and save ourselves. Its purpose is to condemn us, period (Rom. 7:10, Gal. 3:10, 23).

Here’s the paradox, in the same way that the law, or God’s written standards, highlight and magnify our sin, that same sin highlights and magnifies God’s grace.

Paul is saying God defined His standards, so we recognized all sin as sin and the result highlights God’s grace and patience with sin. His grace increases in response to the power of sin keeping us in bondage to it.

Here’s the good news, although it’s easy to see the devastation our sin and brokenness unleash in the world, we can confidently know that God’s grace is also increasing in response to sin. While we don’t always see righteousness reigning the same way sin does, Jesus broke the power of sin and death with his resurrection from the dead. Jesus is ushering a new way to live, empowered by His very own spirit living in us.

Reflect

Name the hope that sparks in you when you read this sentence, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

Think of a time where you experienced God’s grace overshadowing the power of sin.

Previous: Romans 5:16-19  Next: Romans 6:1-2

Original article published October 12, 2009.

Through the Obedience of One, Many are Righteous—Romans 5:16-19

"Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" (Romans 5:16-19)

When Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he not only caused sin to enter the universe, but he made us sinners. Through Adam, we inherited a sin nature which causes us to sin.

Because of this, trying to live a good life or by the Ten Commandments does not work. We were born with a nature contrary to God’s law. This nature pushes against those standards. Therefore, we cannot break free from sin’s grasp on our own. We can never be good enough because our nature sets us up to fail.

Because we were born into sin, we experience everything Adam offers us: Death (vs. 15, 17), judgement (vs. 16), condemnation (vs. 18), being sinners (vs. 19), the increase of sin and death (v. 20), and sin reigning and polluting everything (v. 21). But Paul’s key point at the end of Romans 5 is that the gift of Jesus has no comparison with the result of one man’s sin because it overshadows and outshines it in every way imaginable!

In fact, the Apostle Paul is bold enough to point out that judgement and condemnation followed Adam’s one sin but the gift Jesus offers followed many sins. If we sin because of our sin nature, imagine how many sins we are talking about. Every person’s disobedience from the time of Adam, until now. That’s a lot of trespasses. This is where Jesus’ gifts shine, because He offers them amid all of this brokenness.

Remember, Jesus offers us these gifts: Grace (vs. 15), justification (vs. 16), righteousness (vs. 17), justification and life (vs. 18), righteousness (vs. 19), increasing grace (v. 20), eternal life (v. 21). All of this followed many, many sins. That’s incredible!

If under sin judgement, we are aware of our condemnation, the opposite must also be true. Through Jesus we should know we are forgiven, righteous and holy. And the good news continues, in Christ, we have received this reconciliation (Rom. 5:11).

God’s grace is so abundant we should celebrate it every chance we get!

Reflect

What surprises you about this passage?

Take a moment to stop and thank God He offers the permanent solution to sin and death in Jesus.

Previous: Romans 5:15  Next: Romans 5:20-21

Original article published October 11, 2009.

The Gift Is Not Like The Trespass—Romans 5:15

"But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!" (Romans 5:15)

What Adam did to make us sinners cannot compare to what Jesus did in making us righteous!

Over the next six verses, the apostle Paul reiterates this point at least five times. It is important, so listen up! Adam introduced the destructive, powerful force of sin into the universe but it in no way compares to how Jesus dealt with sin and death. The world inherited sin and death from Adam, but followers of Jesus inherit righteousness and life.

The gift is not like the trespass.

It is easy to downplay glorious victories by focusing on the negative. We naturally focus on the consequences of Adam’s disobedience, because we experience them every day. However, Paul reminds us that what Christ accomplished on the cross far surpasses this in every way imaginable. Here’s the comparison:


Vs. 15
Vs. 16
Vs. 17
Vs. 18
Vs. 19
Vs. 20
Vs. 21
Adam
Death
Judgement/Condemnation
Death
Condemnation
Made Sinners
Sin Increased
Sin Reigned
Jesus
Grace
Justification
Righteousness
Life
Made Righteous
Grace Increased
Grace Reigned

Jesus’ sacrifice was so extravagant that it completely overshadowed Adam’s transgression. The gift has no basis of comparison to the trespass. The gift of Jesus overshadowed, outweighed, overcame and outshines it!

Although we don’t deserve it, this grace benefits all of us. Jesus has completely undone what Adam did. I am so thankful for Jesus’ extravagant gift, and to know that what He did far surpassed Adam’s sin. This gift is free for everyone who believes in Jesus.

Reflect

Have you ever stopped to consider the extravagant nature of the gift of Jesus? What one thing especially resonates with you today?

When you compare the chart of Adam and Jesus above, what stands out to you? What are you thankful for?

Previous: Romans 5:14  Next: Romans 5:16-19

Original article published October 10, 2009.

The Pattern of the One to Come—Romans 5:14

"Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come" (Romans 5:14)

Sin has always brought death!

Even before the law and its charge, death reigned.

From Adam to Moses, God didn’t hold humanity’s sins against them (Rom. 5:13) however, no one escaped the power of either sin or death. As the old saying goes, “the only thing certain in life is death and taxes.”

This gives amazing insight into the effects of sin. Even when God doesn’t judge sin, it is deadly. So death has always reigned, even void of punishment because sin is a constant, all-encompassing, powerful force in the universe. Thank you Adam!

The encouraging news is Adam was the pattern of the one to come. Meaning God started His rescue mission immediately and didn’t throw in the towel when Adam introduced sin into the world.

God’s rescue mission was Jesus!

Jesus’ mission was to destroy sin and death (Heb. 2:14; I John 3:8; I Cor. 15:26). We are not hopeless, Jesus is the last Adam for a reason (I Cor. 15:45). Yes, he was patterned after the first Adam because He was humanity’s representative but what Jesus offers instead of sin and death is life; “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22).

I am thankful for Jesus! The second and last Adam.

Reflect

It’s easier to see the devastating effects of sin rather than experiencing the results of the life Jesus offers. Why do you think that’s true?

Does this verse give you hope for humanity?

Previous: Romans 5:13  Next: Romans 5:15

Original article published October 9, 2009.

No Law, No Charge—Romans 5:13

"For before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law" (Romans 5:13)

Did you pay close attention while reading the verse above?

Since the beginning, sin was in the world, but God didn’t consider it before the law came! What?

I never knew that!

God didn’t charge humanity with sin before the law?

I remember learning about Adam and Eve in Sunday School and being the studious little girl I was, if you were to ask me why God kicked them out of the Garden of Eden I would have recited that it was because they ate ‘the apple’.

In reality, this refers to the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The tree God told them to stay away from (Gen1:17). My short Sunday School summary would have been: God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree, the serpent tricked them, they ate, God was mad, He kicked them out. The end.

However, Paul is painting a dramatically different picture here. He’s saying Adam caused sin to enter God’s perfect world, but didn’t use it to accuse humanity before the written code. Again, I say, What? Remember, Moses and the law came hundreds and hundreds of years later! That’s a long time to forgive sin patiently.

Bottom line, God has operated in grace and mercy since the beginning of time. He dealt with Adam and Eve in the same gracious and merciful way he treats us today.

Mercy was God’s immediate response to Adam’s disobedience, not judgement. Here’s what really happened after Adam disobeyed God. “And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken" (Gen. 3:22-23).

God didn’t kick Adam and Eve out of the garden because they sinned. He did it so they couldn’t eat from the tree of life and live forever in their sinful state. This is an act of mercy.

Can you imagine how terrible it would be to be trapped for eternity suffering the effects of disease, decay, trauma, sin? God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in order to send another representative on humanity’s behalf to do what Adam didn’t, and Paul is setting the scene for this.

Over time, sin and corruption exploded and people mistook God’s forbearance with sin as His acceptance of it. So God gave the Law to remove any doubt about his standards.

The law brought the death Adam was warned about, because no one could fulfil all of it. Instead, it showed how sinful humanity has become. Before the law, God did not hold sin against humanity. The charge of sin came with the law. The law showed us our unrighteousness with the purpose of pointing us to Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:24). Paul calls Jesus the last Adam and says He’s a life-giving spirit (I Cor. 15:45).

This has huge implications. This one small verse gives us an amazing perspective into the merciful character of God. God has always operated in love and mercy from the moment that sin entered the picture until the moment Jesus died to pay for it. His goodness, love and mercy have triumphed since the beginning of time.

Reflect

Did you ever consider there was a time when God didn’t hold sin against humanity?

What changed with how God interacted with humanity after the law was given?

What would have happened if Adam had first ate from the tree of life instead of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

God will offer again the tree of life (Rev. 22:2). Describe what this makes you feel?

Previous: Romans 5:12  Next: Romans 5:14

Original article published October 8, 2009.

Elisha: A Tale of Ridiculous Faith

Elisha: A Tale of Ridiculous Faith

Watch this video teaching by Juli entitled Elisha: A Tale of Ridiculous Faith*

Juli shares 3 memorable lessons learned from the prophet Elisha on how to have ridiculous faith! 

*Juli taught this sermon at BASIC (A College-age Worship Community) on April 15, 2021.

Sin Entered the World Through One Man—Romans 5:12

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12)

You and I do not have a choice. We were born sinners. This is Adam’s fault!

He wasn’t born this way. Adam was born in the image of God (Gen. 2:27). He was also humanity’s representative. Like an ambassador, his decisions were on humanity’s behalf.

When Adam disobeyed God (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6), he plunged future humanity into sin. Sin both in the sense that we all break divine laws but also in the sense of a powerful force holding us captive. We are born into sins powerful current spanning generations. Sin holds us captive in its power from the moment we are born until the moment we die.

Here’s what happened. Adam disobeyed a direct command from God. God gave Adam freedom to eat from every tree in the garden except one (Gen. 2:16-17). God gave Adam a choice but was careful to explain why to avoid this tree. Because it held the knowledge of good and evil, blessings and calamity. Until this time, all Adam knew was God’s blessings.

As humanity’s representative, the result applied to everyone. Because Adam made us sinners, we’ve all experienced both good and evil and at the end of the day, we know death. Slowly dying, both physically and spiritually.

It seems unfair that one man’s choice causes the devastation we experience from sin. But Paul is setting us up to understand God used the same principle to rescue humanity. Adam was humanity’s first representative with God, but Christ was the last.

Reflect

How does it make you feel to know Adam's choice brought sin into the world?

Have you ever thought of Adam as humanity’s representative?

Does knowing that Jesus Christ was also humanity’s representative give you hope?

Previous: Romans 5:9-11  Next: Romans 5:13

Original article published October 7, 2009.

Saved from God's Wrath—Romans 5:9-11

"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Romans 5:9-11)

Paul’s logic is hard to argue.

If Jesus died while we were enemies, a few things are true. First, Jesus saves us from God’s wrath. Second, we are daily rescued from sin’s dominion. Third, this salvation is for life now.

Paul reiterates the point he’s been making until now. In Christ we have been justified. Which means we’ve been acquitted, made righteous and brought into a right relationship with God. Since this is certain, he points out that this also saved us from God’s wrath. When we were his enemies, Jesus died for us (Rom. 5:8), now that we are His friends, we can set aside the notion that God will ever deal with us according to what we deserve. Bottom line, if someone will die for you, they are for you, period!

In the same way, Paul continues his logic. If we are on friendly terms with God, it is certain he will continue to rescue us. The Amplified Bible mentions that this means we are daily delivered from sin’s dominion (Rom. 5:10 AMP).

Sin is a powerful force affecting everyone. We are born into it; broken because of it, and it has power over us our entire lives. It creeps in and affects all areas of our lives and relationships. It’s impossible to escape. Paul encourages that since we are reconciled to God, we are not only forgiven of our sins, but the life that Jesus offers helps to free us from the ongoing power of sin control. (All of which, he will explain down the road in chapters 6 and 7, stay tuned).

Incredibly, this means this salvation and deliverance from the power of sin is a current reality. Paul is not only offering hope for the future, but encouragement for today. This is often overlooked because it’s hard to reconcile this notion amid suffering. But take heart, he’s reminding us we have now received this gift. In fact, he says to rejoice in it.

Reflect

What comes to mind when you hear, if someone will die for you, they are for you, period!

Have you experienced deliverance or reprieve from sin’s dominion as you walk with God?

What does rejoicing in your reconciled standing with God currently look like?

Previous: Romans 5:7-8  Next: Romans 5:12

Original article published October 6, 2009.

Christ Died While We Were Enemies—Romans 5:7-8

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8)

Christmas Eve 1914, German soldiers began singing Silent Night. Across the battle line Allied soldiers recognized the tune and joined in their language. Bitter enemies suddenly had a common ground.

As singing continued, both sides ventured into no-man's-land to share food and cigarettes. The next day, fighting would resume, but the commonality of a hymn brought bitter enemies a Christmas truce for a few hours.

In war, rarely do enemies extend the offer of peace, even for a few brief hours.

Paul uses a similar example. We know people who have died in war, giving their lives for a greater cause. However, it is inconceivable to think someone would die for their enemy. Let alone offering peace at their expense.

However, that is exactly what Jesus did. While we were enemies of God, Christ died for us and offered us a peace treaty with God (Rom. 5:10).

Paul said in the beginning of Romans that humanity became God-haters (Rom. 1:30). He listed the desires within us that made us adversaries of God (Rom. 1:29-31). Paul’s conclusion was humanity deserved to die (Rom. 1:32).

Amazingly, God had mercy on us! God showed His love by sending Jesus into the enemy camp to rescue us. He showed up while we hated him.

The offense of sin was great, God could not overlook it. His solution was Jesus dying a criminal’s death on a Roman cross in our place while we were His enemies (Rom. 4:25).

This ceasefire was an invitation to venture into no-man's-land, where God was waiting for us with open arms. The Apostle Paul says now we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1)

Unlike the story of the World War I soldiers, our peace treaty with God lasts for more than a few precious hours. In Christ, we now stand in a constant state of peace and acceptance (Rom. 5:2). In Christ, we are not God’s enemies; we are His friends.

Reflect

What comes to mind when you hear you were an enemy of God

What comes to mind when you hear that Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s demonstration of love?

Previous: Romans 5:6  Next: Romans 5:9-11

Original article published July 24, 2009.

When We Were Powerless, Christ Died For Us—Romans 5:6

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6)

Who knew?

Who knew, dying a criminal’s death on a Roman cross would be the key to unlocking what humanity works so hard for—peace with God.

Paul explains his logic, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). He says, now we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1).

This happened when we were powerless to help ourselves.

He didn’t wait for us to get it together (whatever that means). We weren’t even waiting and ready for Him to come; He came at just the right time. That’s good news!

This means there is nothing, again nothing, we add to it. God invites us to enjoy it. To enjoy peace between us and the Father, to enjoy the fact that Jesus died for us, paid for our sins and now invites us into a relationship with Him.

Reflect

What comes to mind when thinking about God dying for the ungodly?

What comes to mind when you think about God dying for you?

Take a moment to thank Jesus for this gift.

Previous: Romans 5:3-5  Next: Romans 5:7-8

Original article published July 23, 2009.

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