Paul’s School of Prayer (Part 2)

I hope you have experimented with praying Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1.15-23. Here are examples of discoveries I made while putting this great prayer in my own words. — Verse 15 – I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love. There are some people on my prayer list, who are […]

Paul’s School of Prayer (Part 1)

If you’re interested in learning how to pray better, you’ve come to the right place. Paul’s school of prayer is open and you can learn from a master of prayer. — Ephesians 1.15-19 – I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason […]

Our Inheritance Sealed by the Spirit

“He made his money the old-fashioned way,” a man said. “He inherited it.” Readers of my blog may or may not inherit money, but Jesus has given us a greater inheritance than money. — Ephesians 1.11-14 – In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who […]

The Goal of History

World events may seem chaotic and confusing, but God is directing history toward a predetermined goal. Even though followers of Jesus are caught in the swirl of cosmic forces, they are given insight into God’s plan for the ages. — Ephesians 1.8b-10 – With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the […]

Reasons to Praise!

Paul piles words upon words in an attempt to describe the amazing love and grace of God that gives us the privilege of being children of God. — Ephesians 1.5-8 – He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of his […]

Predestination and Free Will

Scholars have debated the subject of predestination and free will for centuries. I will not solve the question in a brief blog article, but I hope to add some practical thought to the question. In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross has one of the best explanations I have heard. You can find the video on […]

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

— Ephesians 1.1-4 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has […]

The Law of Sowing and Reaping

My mother was a very good gardener. She grew some of the finest tomatoes and bib lettuce I’ve ever eaten. One fact of her gardening that was completely consistent is that bib lettuce seeds did not produce tomato plants. Neither did the tomato plants produce lettuce. We accept this truth of gardening but fail to […]

The Fruit of the Spirit

God has given humans an opportunity of a lifetime. We can interact with his Spirit and take on God’s personality. Paul put it like this. — Galatians 5.22-25 – The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who […]

Flesh and Spirit in Conflict

One of Paul’s most important contributions is the distinction between being led by the Spirit or the flesh. Today’s article and video feature the influence of the flesh. Tomorrow will cover the work of the Spirit. Paul frames his discussion with what is the most important truth. On one side of the frame, he writes, […]

Set Free to Love

A man said, “God and I have a deal. He likes to forgive and I like to sin.” That man was as wrong as can be. God’s essential nature is gracious, loving, and forgiving. We miss the point of his love if we return to our sin like a dog eats his vomit. — Galatians […]

Strong Words – An Important Message

I believe Paul was willing to occasionally exaggerate to make an important point. Paul makes a very strong statement about those who are insisting that Gentile followers of Jesus be circumcised. Here’s what he had to say. — Galatians 5.7-12 – You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does […]

Faith Working Through Love

The climax of Paul’s next argument in chapter 5 is verse 6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love. Think about the words, “faith working through love.” What kind of faith is this? I am happy that Bible scholars no longer […]

Don’t Cheat Yourself

Rudy Ross explains a complicated allegory about Sarah and Hagar in Galatians 4.21-31. Rudy states that Paul can quote the good news of Isaiah 54 because the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 has done his work. Please take a few minutes to listen to our discussion on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy provides an […]

What is Christian Formation?

If you had a chance to throw a football like Patrick Mahomes, would you enjoy that opportunity? What if you could look like the current most beautiful or handsome Hollywood performer? If you aren’t interested in sports or beauty, what about having the business knowledge of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, or one of the others […]

Rudy Explains Jewish Festivals

In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross gives listeners a brief outline of Jewish festivals. He ends the discussion with an appeal for God’s people to pray on behalf of other people. I hope you will get a chance to listen to the video on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. For my blog article today, I […]

God’s Plan for the Ages

In seven short verses, Paul captures the sweep of salvation history. — Galatians 4.1-7 – My point is this: heirs, as long as they are minors, are no better than those who are enslaved, though they are the owners of all the property, But they remain under guardians and trustees until the date set by […]

Set Free to be Friends

Faith in the finished work of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit sets people free to be friends with God and each other. Before Faith — Galatians 3.23-24 – Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until […]

The Law and the Promise

Paul’s audience in the first century knew what he meant when he wrote about the law. Do we? — Galatians 3.19-20 – Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made, and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. Now a […]

What About God’s Promises?

In today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross makes the point that when God makes a covenant with people, it is equal to receiving his promise. God promised an inheritance to Abraham. Jesus fulfilled it. People are the recipients of the glorious fulfillment of his promise. God’s Covenant and Promise The next verses are a continuation of […]

The Importance of Faith

What is faith and why is it so important? Faith is the trust you place in a person based on experience and personal connection. If someone has cheated, lied, and harmed us, it will be difficult to trust that person. If someone is honest, loving, and kind, they will be much easier to trust. We […]

The Gift of the Holy Spirit

We meet the Holy Spirit in the second verse of the Bible. And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters (Genesis 1.2). The Spirit hovers or broods over the chaos of unformed […]

Galatians 2.20 Again!

Confession: I don’t always listen to YouTube videos before I write my article. I thought yesterday’s YouTube video covered Galatians 2.20 and I was wrong. Today’s YouTube video will cover Galatians 2.20 and my article will reflect a few more ways people can use Galatians 2.20 for their benefit. Daily living A great way to […]

Galatians 2.20 Applied

Galatians 2.20 is one of the most profound Bible verses within the covers of the most important book ever written. The full quote begins in verse 19 and continues to the end of the second chapter. — Galatians 2.19-21 – For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to […]

Justified by Faith

Jewish people in the first century had four boundary markers. These boundary markers determined who was part of God’s family or not. They determined who was considered righteous and who was a sinner. The boundary markers were circumcision, food laws, the Law or Torah, and the Sabbath. Paul reflected a common belief about boundary markers […]

The plans are not the building.

Rudy Ross is a tremendous resource to help us understand Jewish thinking in the first century. In today’s YouTube video on the Bob Spradling channel, Rudy will explain how certain boundary markers of the Jewish faith were transposed to a higher and universal purpose. The Boundary Markers Imagine a box with four distinct sides: circumcision, […]

Conflict Between Christian Leaders

When we study one of Paul’s letters, it is like listening to one side of a telephone conversation. We know Paul’s point of view but can only guess what the other people are saying. Peter and Paul had a serious disagreement over Jews eating with Gentiles. We know Paul’s side, but we don’t know what […]

Care for the Poor

As Paul was describing the events of his ministry, he mentioned care for the poor. This notation seems like an aside, but it was actually a very important aspect of his ministry. If you were part of the study in Corinthians, you will recall Paul’s emphasis on an offering for the poor in Jerusalem. Paul […]

The Power of Experience

Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth. The religious authorities believed that Jesus was using magic to deceive the people and sought to discredit him. They asked the formerly blind man if he thought Jesus was a sinner and he said, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing […]

Who is in charge here?

When Jewish followers of Jesus objected to Paul’s message to the Gentiles, the issue was one of authority. What right did Paul have to change Jewish law that had been existence since the days of Moses? That seems like a reasonable objection. That is unless it was wrong. Paul knew that the crucifixion and resurrection […]

People Pleasing and the Gospel

In 63 BC Pompey the Great laid siege to Jerusalem. When he finally conquered the city, he walked into the most sacred place in Israel’s history, the Holy of Holies. Possibly, in response to the devastation and outrage of Pompey’s acts, the Psalm of Solomon was written. In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross explains why […]

The One and Only Gospel

Before we consider Paul’s defense of his gospel message, we will summarize the issues in Galatia. (1) Jewish people were exempt from participating in pagan festivals and sacrifices. The Roman government gave them an exception because they were extremely resistant to any form of idol worship. (2) Even though Jewish followers of Jesus were separate […]

Why did Paul write Galatians?

As we begin a study of Galatians, you can be assured that Rudy Ross and I will work as hard as possible to explain the letter and apply it to life today. Reading Galatians is like mining for gold. It requires effort and patience, but our work will pay off with spiritual gold. Who were […]

Finals Words of 2 Corinthians

We have been on quite a journey through First and Second Corinthians. These two letters to a troubled church are rich with theology and experience. Paul’s final words to the church are worthy of our prayerful consideration. — 2 Corinthians 13.11-12 – Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Be restored; listen to my appeal; agree with […]

Why do we need two witnesses?

One last time, Paul defended his role in Corinth. He wrote, “This is the third time I am coming to you. ‘Any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses’” (2 Corinthians 13.1). In Paul’s case, he was being condemned because his behavior didn’t match the preferences of the Corinthian congregation. […]

Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

Paul was accused by the super-apostles and their followers in Corinth of being an inferior leader. If the people turned from Paul’s message, they would not only turn from Paul, but also from Jesus. This issue was so serious that Paul strongly stated his qualifications. — 2 Corinthians 12.1-4 – It is necessary to boast; […]

The Imitation of Christ’s Humility

Humility was not valued in the first-century of the Greco-Roman world. Humility was for slaves and outcasts, but not for leaders. Paul’s willingness to imitate the humility of Jesus made him an object of scorn and embarrassment to the church in Corinth. Paul had to defend his humility, so the message that Jesus gave him […]

What Can Go Wrong with Super-Apostles?

It’s hard to believe that a man who was so important to the formation of the church had so many problems with the churches he founded. Many of Paul’s letters came about because he had to correct errant churches. Paul felt a great weight of responsibility to make sure that the churches he founded reached […]

Bragging on God

Today’s article and YouTube video with Rudy Ross features four Bible verses that Christ-followers do well to consider. Unity in Christ There are many expressions of the Christian faith, but if we agree on the essential message then we are part of the same family of God. — 2 Corinthians 10.7 – Look at what […]

Spiritual Warfare

We assume Jesus died in A.D. 33 and that 1 Corinthians was written in A.D. 55. It is tragic that it took only 22 years for the church to become corrupted by immoral and unethical false teachers. This phenomenon is a testimony to how quickly humans can leave a life-changing relationship with Jesus for something […]

Final Thoughts On Giving

Rudy Ross and I have devoted most of the videos this week to the subject of giving. One theme we have attempted to convey is that God is more interested in your heart than your money. However, he uses the money to get to your heart. Cheerful Giving Cheerful giving is an indication that we […]

Generous Giving

In today’s YouTube video Rudy Ross and I talk about the way the Church of the Resurrection uses its funds to help people in the country of Haiti and the city of Haiti Missouri. When the 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country of Haiti, Steve Weber volunteered to help rebuild the country. Steve is […]

Jesus became poor so we can be rich.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians addressed their overvaluation of certain spiritual gifts. In the second letter, he referenced the gifts as a way to encourage benevolent action on their part. — 2 Corinthians 8.7 – Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our […]

The Grace of Giving

When Paul described the giving spirit of the Macedonian church, he piled on one word after another to describe their attitude toward giving. The churches of the Greco-Roman world were taking up an offering to supply the needs of the starving Christians in Jerusalem. The offering would help their fellow believers in Jerusalem and further […]

Grief that Leads to Repentance

Very early in my ministry, I spoke at a church that had its Sunday services on the radio. My Dad listened to the sermon and invited me to dinner the next night. Our dinner at the Ramada Inn lasted two hours and I was sorry that we didn’t grab a burger at the McDonald’s drive-through […]

Overjoyed in All Affliction

If you didn’t meet the devil today, you’re probably walking in the same direction. Rudy Ross describes opposition to God’s work in his life as “mischief.” Mischief comes in the form of the world’s system, our human inclination to self-will, and demonic forces. Paul definitely encountered mischief in Corinth. He tried to lead a hard-headed, […]

Don’t Be Mismatched

One year had passed after the first letter to the Corinthians. Some of the leading members of the church continued to spend time with their friends in pagan temples. The temples were the “restaurants” of Corinth, but they had two very disturbing aspects. Offerings were made to the pagan god of the temple and the […]

Open Wide Your Heart

The church I served in Louisiana needed to be expanded. We met in a World War II army barracks that had been moved to a lot on Warren Street. As a 25-year-old pastor, I was nervous when I attended a deacon’s meeting of the mother church for our mission. The First Baptist Church had forty […]