Devotional

Read: James 3:1-5

SOAP: James 3:3-5

James shares wisdom about the power of the tongue so that believers will understand God’s perspective on the importance of our speech. Our speech reflects what is in our hearts so any words of anger, doubt, deceit, and immorality must be confronted and corrected quickly. Since our words should reflect God, we need His help to ensure that they are righteous, loving, controlled, and full of grace and mercy.

Where do you struggle with your speech? What are your speaking habits or patterns of speech that require God’s help to refine and transform? Our speech reflects our knowledge and wisdom. Just like our attitudes and behaviors, our speech must also be submitted to God for transformation.

Father God, I thank You for the power of Your Word. Help me to use Your Word as a guide for my speech. Give me wisdom, discernment, and self-control when it comes to the words that I speak. Let my words be refreshing, gracious, and always reflect You well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Romans by Robert Hawker

Romans
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
WE here enter upon the inspired writings of the Apostle. They may well be called inspired; himself was taught by the Holy Ghost, to tell the Church, that God. So that in truth, God the Spirit is the Author, and his Servants are but the Pen-men of all the holy records. And hence we do right, when at any time we make quotations from the Word of God, instead of saying, (as is but too commonly done,) the Apostle, whose name the writing bears, saith thus, or thus: We consider God the Holy Ghost himself the speaker, by his servant, and give the Lord the glory. For this would tend, under God, to keep alive in our remembrance, both the Person and authority of Him that speaks; and cause us to look beyond the words Holy Ghost
here enter upon the inspired writings of the Apostle Paul. They may well be called inspired; for Paul himself was taught by the Holy Ghost, to tell the Church, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. So that in truth, God the Spirit is the Author, and his Servants are but the Pen-men of all the holy records. And hence we do right, when at any time we make quotations from the Word of God, instead of saying, (as is but too commonly done,) the Apostle, whose name the writing bears, saith thus, or thus: We consider God the Holy Ghost himself the speaker, by his servant, and give the Lord the glory. For this would tend, under God, to keep alive in our remembrance, both the Person and authority of Him that speaks; and cause us to look beyond the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, to the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
The Epistle to the Romans, is placed first in point of order to all the writings of the Apostle Paul. But this priority is not on account of the time when written, for many of the Epistles which bear his name, were written before it. Perhaps it stands first in the list of Paul’s Epistles, partly by reason of its bulk, being larger than all his other writings, and partly on being directed to the Church of the chief city in the Roman Empire.
The persons to whom it is addressed are said to be Romans. By which is meant, not the whole body of the people who lived at Rome; but the Church of God in that place. Paul indeed, declares as much, in the opening of the Epistle, when directing it: to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to he saints. It is highly needful, that this should be always kept in view. And, not only in relation to this Epistle of Paul to the Romans, which is now before us, but in all the writings of the servants of the Lord, in their Epistles. And, I take occasion from hence to remark to the Reader, the great importance of the thing itself. For, to the general inattention on this subject, must be ascribed the sad perversion, which is not infrequently made, of particular passages in those holy writings, to wrong purposes. I mean, when the carnal and ungodly make application of certain words and promises found in them to themselves, and the world at large; which, if properly considered, would be found as belonging only to the Lord’s people.
The place, and time of writing of this Epistle by may be easily learnt from the date, which is given in the close of it, and from several incidental passages we meet with here and there in the different parts of it. He dates it from And in the last Chapter, he tells the Church at that (that is, the city of . And this is further confirmed, by what the Apostle saith elsewhere, . Moreover, by whom sent this Epistle, is said to be a servant of the Church at a small seaport of the about eight miles from the city, . And, from these particulars, it is no difficult matter to discover the when the Apostle sent it to the Church; perhaps about the year of our Lord God when was on the eve of departure from ee.
and time of writing of this Epistle by Paul, may be easily learnt from the date, which is given in the close of it, and from several incidental passages we meet with here and there in the different parts of it. He dates it from Corinth. And in the last Chapter, he tells the Church at Rome, that Gaius, his host, and Erasius, the chamberlain of the city, (that is, the city of Corinth,) sent their salutations to the Church, Rom_16:23. And this is further confirmed, by what the Apostle saith elsewhere, 1Co_1:14; Act_18:8. Moreover, Phoebe, by whom Paul sent this Epistle, is said to be a servant of the Church at Cenchrea, a small seaport of the Corinthians, about eight miles from the city, Rom_16:1-2. And, from these particulars, it is no difficult matter to discover the time when the Apostle sent it to the Church; perhaps about the year of our Lord God 57, when Paul was on the eve of departure from Corinth, see Act_20:2-3.
But the most important point to be attended to, in these general observations, by way of introduction to the Epistle, is the enquiry, what was the great and leading object God the Holy Ghost might be supposed to have in view, in sending so blessed a portion of his holy word to the Church. And this, be it spoken to the Lord’s glory, and the Church’s happiness, is as plain and evident as if written with a sun-beam. The one chief doctrine taught in it to the Church, is the method of the sinner’s acceptance before God, of justification alone, through faith, by the Lord Jesus Christ. This glorious truth runs through the whole Epistle, like one continued golden chain, linked together in all its bearings, and may be seen, more or less, in every Chapter. And the doctrine is set forth in such plain and clear terms, as if God the Spirit had determined, for the Church’s happiness, that no possible mistake should arise, in the minds of any of his people, when taught of Him, on a point of such infinite consequence. Hence he shews, that this method of God’s own providing of justification, in and by the Lord Jesus Christ, is totally distinguished from, and wholly unconnected with the law, either in whole, or in part: and, that an obedience to the precepts of the law, hath not the smallest share in contributing to the merciful design of Jehovah, in this plan of salvation. All is the result of free sovereign grace. Christ is here set forth as the One ordinance of heaven. Salvation is shewn to be in no other. Christ is the sole cause. And, even the sweet and precious influences of God the Holy Ghost, which manifest themselves in the hearts and lives of the redeemed, are shewn to be the blessed effects, and not in part the cause, of justification. The leading tenor and language of this blessed Epistle, runs, through the whole of it, to this effect; being justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, Rom_3:24.
The Reader will enter upon the perusal of this Epistle, and have a better apprehension of the whole contents of it, if I previously give him a brief analysis of the several Chapters.
The Apostle begins from the platform of the subject, at his first Chapter, with describing the miserable state of every man by nature, in consequence of the fall; and, in the instance of the city of Rome, at that time advanced to the greatest height of human science, but sunk to the lowest degree of profligacy, he fully proves, that the world, by wisdom, knew not God. From the Gentile, he next goes on to the Jew, and in his second and third Chapters, states a faithful account of that highly-favored nation. But here, as in the former instance, he makes it abundantly plain and evident, that all are alike included under sin: and that by the deeds of the law can no flesh be justified before God, Rom_3:19-20. Foreseeing, however, that some objections might be made to arise among those who prided themselves in their being descended from Abraham, as if the case of that great Patriarch became an exception to this statement of universal corruption; the Apostle, in his fourth Chapter, takes up the full force of the objection on this ground, and proves, in Abraham’s instance, the truth of the doctrine which he had before asserted. He shews most fully and decidedly, that Abraham himself was actually justified by faith in Christ, even when he was in a state of uncircumcision. And that in fact the sign of circumcision was appointed him, as a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised, Rom_4:10-11.
Having thus most clearly and blessedly proved the truth of the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ, by such palpable evidences, the Apostle’s mind seems to have been led out in the vast comprehension of the glorious subject, as be had been led to write it, in those four Chapters: and therefore in the fifth, he runs back to the very beginning of time, and, in stating the fall of Adam, and the Church in him, the Apostle is led to shew, that, as misery and ruin came by this first Adam, so blessedness and salvation came by the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. He proves here, with equal clearness and force of truth, that it is the goodness and grace of God, to bring the Church out of that Adam-corruption, by a means in which they have no part in the performance, as they were involved in an original ruin, to which, by actual transgression, they did not contribute. As by the offence of one, (saith the Apostle,) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life, Rom_5:18.
The sixth, seventh, and eighth Chapters, are directed to set forth the blessedness of the dispensation, that being justified by faith, and having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the persons of believers are freed from all condemnation; and, from their union with Christ, they partake in his triumphs over sin, death, hell, and the grave. And the Apostle very fully shews, that so far are these privileges from tending to relax the motives, to a corresponding life of sanctity and holiness, such principles become the only source to give life to it, and ensure it. The Apostle speaks with an holy indignation and abhorrence of the bare suspicion, that they, who by union with Christ, are dead to sin, could live any longer therein. He denies it, as a thing impossible, Rom_6:1-2. And very sure it is, that where justification by faith in Christ, springs out of a grace union with Christ, (and where this is not the case there can be no justification,) the most ample security is made for everything that is blessed, in life and conversation. For, (saith the Apostle,) as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God, Rom_8:14. And if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his, Rom_8:14.
In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh Chapters, the Apostle most blessedly dwells upon the grace and mercy of Jehovah, in his threefold character of persons, in this high dispensation of his sovereignty and holiness. And here he manifests the Almightiness of the teaching he was under, when he wrote this Epistle. He speaks with such humbleness of soul, while bowing down under a sense of Jehovah’s wisdom and power in, his appointment of things, as carries with it the highest testimony that God the Holy Ghost guided the Apostle’s pen.
The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth Chapters, together with a part of the fifteenth, are directed to shew the Church what blessed effects will follow from those gracious principles formed in the heart, where the Lord’s people are living in a state of justification, by faith in Christ, before God. For, while Christ is lived upon by faith, the Spirit of Christ dwells in the heart, and induceth everything that is truly blessed in life and practice. Christ being made the s ole cause of salvation, the Spirit of Christ, in the believer, manifest the effects, as the sole work of God the Spirit. And these things are not spoken so much as precepts, but as promises; not so much in a way of bidding, as enabling: similar to what the Lord Jesus said to his disciples; Abide in me, and I in you. Continue ye in my love: that is, ye shall abide in me; ye shall continue in my love; and I will abide in you, Joh_15:4-9. See Commentary there.
And thus the Apostle having accomplished the great design which God the Holy Ghost had in view, when dictating this Epistle to the Church, Paul concludes the whole in the remainder of the fifteenth and the sixteenth Chapters, with his blessing and his prayers, accompanied with the affectionate remembrances of the brethren with him to the people, and desiring an interest in their prayers for him, in his person and ministry. And he closeth all, with giving glory to God through Jesus Christ.
Reader! I have only to call upon you, before we enter on the Epistle, to join me in spirit before the Throne, that the teachings of the same Almighty Lord, which guided the Apostle’s pen, may guide our hearts, that in the reading of it, we may be made wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Romans By John Grill

INTRODUCTION TO ROMANS
Though this epistle is in order placed the first of the epistles, yet it was not first written: there were several epistles written before it, as the two epistles to the Thessalonians, the two to the Corinthians, the first epistle to Timothy, and that to Titus: the reason why this epistle stands first, is either the excellency of it, of which Chrysostom had so great an esteem that he caused it to be read over to him twice a week; or else the dignity of the place, where the persons lived to whom it is written, being Rome, the imperial city: so the books of the prophets are not placed in the same order in which they were written: Hosea prophesied as early as Isaiah, if not earlier; and before Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and yet stands after them. This epistle was written from Corinth, as the subscription of it testifies; and which may be confirmed from the apostle’s commendation of Phoebe, by whom he sent it, who was of Cenchrea, a place near Corinth; by his calling Erastus, the chamberlain of the city, who abode at Corinth, 2Ti_4:20, and Gaius his host, who was a Corinthian, Rom_16:23, 1Co_1:14, though at what time it was written from hence, is not so evident: some think it was written in the time of his three months’ travel through Greece, Act_20:2, a little before the death of the Emperor Claudius, in the year of Christ 55; others, that it was written by him in the short stay he made at Corinth, when he came thither, as is supposed, from Philippi, in his way to Troas, where some of his company went before, and had been there five days before him: and this is placed in the second year of Nero, and in the year of Christ 56; however, it was not written by him during his long stay at Corinth, when he was first there, but afterwards, even after he had preached from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum: and when he was about to go to Jerusalem, with the contributions of the churches of Macedonia and Achaia, to the poor saints there, Rom_15:19. The persons to whom this epistle was sent were Roman saints, both Jews and Gentiles, inhabiting the city of Rome; of which city and church; See Gill on Act_28:14; Act_28:15; by whom the Gospel was first preached at Rome, and who were the means of forming the church there, is not very evident Irenaeus, an ancient writer, says (a), that Peter and Paul preached the Gospel at Rome, and founded the church; and Gaius, an ecclesiastical man, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome, asserts the same; and Dionysius; bishop of the Corinthians, calls the Romans the plantation of Peter and Paul (b): whether Peter was ever at Rome is not a clear point with many; and certain it is, that the Apostle Paul had not been at Rome when he wrote this epistle, at least it seems very probable he had not, by several expressions in Rom_1:10; and yet here was a church to which he writes, and had been a considerable time; for their faith was spoken of throughout the world, Rom_1:8; and when the apostle was on the road to this city, the brethren in it met him, Act_28:15. The chief design of this epistle is to set in a clear light the doctrine of justification: showing against the Gentiles, that it is not by the light of nature, and works done in obedience to that, and against the Jews, that it was not by the law of Moses, and the deeds of that; which he clearly evinces, by observing the sinful and wretched estate both of Jews and Gentiles: but that it is by the righteousness of Christ imputed through the grace of God, and received by faith; the effects of which are peace and joy in the soul, and holiness in the life and conversation: he gives an account of the justified ones, as that they are not without sin, which he illustrates by his own experience and case; and yet are possessed of various privileges, as freedom from condemnation, the blessing of adoption, and a right to the heavenly inheritance; he treats in it concerning predestination, the calling of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews; and exhorts to the various duties incumbent on the saints, with respect to one another, and to the world, to duties of a moral and civil nature, and the use of things indifferent; and closes it with the salutations of divers persons.
(a) Adv. Haeres. l. 3. c. 1. Vid. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 5. c. 8. (b) Apud Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 25.