Category Archives: JESUS


 N.T Wright observes that Romans’ basic shape is four sections: Chapters 1-4, 5-8, 9- 11, and 12-16. With the main theme of the letter being God’s Righteousness.[1] “Romans 8 has been called the ‘inner sanctuary within the cathedral of Christian faith.’ It sets the stage before us some of the most wonderful blessings we enjoy as believers.”[2] While the immediate context has Paul tying up what he has started in 7:6, he also reaches back to chapter 6. It could safely be argued that in chapter 8 he reaches back to chapter one and this is a conclusion to what he has written before. In Romans 1:16 Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 8:2 seems to reach back to this verse and explains what this ‘good news’ is: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. N.T. Wright comments, “the ‘condemnation[8:1]‘ in question is the Adamic condemnation spoken of in 5:12-21, which in turn looks back to the condemnation of sin 1:18-3:20.”[3] Romans 8 then can be seen as a conclusion to what Paul has written up to this point and a compass that points forward to rest of the epistle.

In this pericope Paul speaks of two laws: The ‘Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ and the ‘Law of sin and of death.’ The problem is what are the two different laws? Most evangelicals have taken the ‘Law of sin and of death’ to be the Torah, the Law of Moses and the freedom from that Law to be the ‘Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ to be the believers new life that is found in Christ which has nothing to do with Torah. Is the ‘law of sin and of death” Torah? Could the ‘Law of the Spirit of life in Christ’ be the Spirit filled life of believers? Or, could it be that somehow these two Laws are not two different laws at all, but the same law looked at through two different lenses? Paul’s argument is not against Torah, but it is arguing against those who are not ‘in Christ.’ After all, those, as will be seen, are the ones who cannot please God. Wright suggests, his critique of Judaism was not that Judaism was a bad thing, but that it had – apart from its Messiah – failed in the task for which it had been created. He developed, in short, what he saw as a truly Jewish theology and mission, which was precisely the means of bringing to the pagan world the truth, and the true way of life, for which it dimly groped but which it could not attain.”[4] So, is the law different, or is there a difference in the lives of the people? The ‘Law of the Spirit of life in Christ’ and the ‘Law of sin and of death’ are the same Law lived in two very different ways.


ROMANS 8:1-8

   1  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2   For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

3   For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

4   so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5   For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

6   For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

7   because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

8   and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.



            Paul begins chapter 8 with There is therefore[5] (???) which points us back to the preceding argument, more specifically to 7:6 which says, “But now 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.” In 8:1-4 Paul is going to delve into the differences between the Law and the Spirit. He is going to tie up what he began in 7, possibly even chapter 6. The New American Standard Bible renders it this way, “The conclusion of the matter is this.”

He continues verse 1, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Wright asserts that” the ‘condemnation’ spoken of here is the final judgment that God, the righteous judge, will meet out at the last.”[6] Schreiner adds, believers are not under condemnation, because they have died with Christ, and thus the condemnation they deserved as children of Adam have been removed by the second Adam, Jesus Christ.”[7]

While the pericope is going to conclude the argument started in 7:6, it seems here that Paul reaches back to 6:3-4: “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (emphasis added).  While Moo writes that “we are justified by faith in conjunction with our union with Christ,”[8] he stops short of saying how one gets into this union with Christ. Cottrell, however, does take the verse back to Romans 6 writing, “In Christ Jesus” identifies those to whom this wonderful blessing applies, namely, those who have entered into the saving union with Christ described in 6:1-11.”[9] For those who have faith and have been baptized ‘into’ Christ there is no condemnation. “Into Christ” also looks at Galatians 3:27; not only does it stay with the continuity of the Romans epistle; it also looks at Paul’s other letters and keeps the Pauline theology intact and tight. Baptism is the way “into Christ.”

In verse 2 Paul talks about two different Spirits. He writes, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Gorman says that “Paul declares that the purpose of and effects of Christ’s death were apocalyptic, effecting the change in eons or ages that meant the inauguration of the new age, and liberating those who respond from the power of the old.”[10] While this should not be argued, it still does not address the question of what are these two seemingly opposing ‘laws’ of which Paul is writing?

While many commentators through years have asserted that Romans 8 is an argument against the Law, E.P. Sanders takes another stance. He writes, “Romans 8 is not simply polemic against the Law; it is an argument that Christians are ‘alive’ and will be saved at the end.”[11] Cottrell argues that “it is difficult to decide exactly what the two uses of ‘law’ (nomos) mean here. In this verse they cannot mean ‘commandment;’ thus I conclude that here ‘nomos’ has the general sense of ‘order, rule, pattern, system,’ as applied on a cosmic scale.”[12] It seems that Cottrell goes to some lengths to distance the use of ‘law’ from the Torah. But, as Sanders writes that “[the Law's] requirement is just, in itself it aims aright”[13] If the Torah’s requirement is just could it be that Paul is arguing in favor of Torah and not against it? N.T. Wright thinks so.

Wright writes, “The Torah, then – why after all, should we be surprised at being surprised by Paul? – is the hidden agent of what God has achieved, which is the life of which the Spirit is the personal Giver. This as we saw, is the main thrust of the paragraph.”[14]  Schreiner seems to concur with Wright stating, “those free from the curse of the law are now liberated to keep the law’s commands.”[15] Christians are not free to do anything, but are free to do what is right. And, God’s law, Torah, is right.

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, was give life.  The NASB’s translation seems to carry more force than the ESV’s, “weakened by the flesh.”  “The demands could not be met because the people to whom the law was given were in the realm of ‘flesh’ (sarx; NIV ‘sinful nature’).”[16] God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Schreiner writes, “The inadequacy of the law is not due to its content; the weakness of the law is located in the flesh, the unregenerate nature of human beings.”[17] Dunn adds, “Once again, Paul attacks the Jewish view that Torah alone is sufficient for righteousness.”[18] Cottrell writes, “God cannot disregard his own righteousness in dealing with men; he must always be true to himself and to the requirements of his law. But once sinners have broken the law’s commandments, the only way God can be righteous is to satisfy his law’s requirement for punishment. And this is exactly what Jesus came to do – in our place.”[19] Sanders put it this way, “The requirement is fulfilled only in Christ (Rom. 8:4), and the aim, life is accomplished only in Christ.”[20] Here the Trinity is together: Because of Christ work on the cross Christians can now fulfill God’s law as they live according to the Spirit.

Paul moves on in verses 5-7 with groups of contrasting ideas about the life in the flesh and life in the Spirit. Wright says that here “Paul uses language replete with the overtones of covenant renewal to speak of God’s people as being redefined by ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Jesus.’”[21] For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. For those who apart from Christ their goal is selfish. Their aim is not to do what is good and right but to do whatever pleases their selves. [B]ut those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Bruce writes, “Since, then believers are no longer ‘in the flesh’ but ‘in the Spirit,’ they should no longer live ‘according to the flesh’ but ‘according to the Spirit.’”[22]

            For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Both of these verses (5 and 6) build on the mental process, the ‘mind set.’ As Paul has looked back to what he has written earlier to the Romans this could be seen as a look at what lies ahead. In Romans 12:2 Paul writes, ” And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Wright suggests, “it is the Christian mind that must become the initial, and transformative, locus of renewal.”[23] He continues, “As frequently in his thinking about how human beings operate, Paul here envisages thought as the key to action; not, however, just the process of ideas through the brain, but in the stronger sense of the settled and focused activity and concentration that characterizes the one state or the other.”[24] Basically as a man thinks so a man does. If a minds man is set on the things of God he will do those things. This is made possible again by the trinity that is throughout this passage: God’s will can be done through the Spirit because of the sacrifice of Christ.

Verse seven interestingly points to the fact that Torah is what Paul has in mind: because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. Paul says that it is the ‘law of God’ that the mind of the flesh cannot keep. Cottrell writes, “‘Law’ in this context is the general law of God in any and all of its applicable forms. That peace with God and enmity against God are measured by one’s attitude toward his law are significant. It shows that God and law cannot be separated. To reject God’s law is to reject God himself.”[25] Cottrell continues, “To submit to the law of God means to acknowledge its authority and make a conscious effort to obey it. This is precisely what the mind of the flesh does not do. More significantly, it cannot do so.”[26] The mind that is in the flesh does not care about the things of God.

It is the reason that Paul concludes the pericope with, “and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Moo writes, “Romans 7-8 explain why ‘the mind of the flesh’ brings death. The orientation of the will reflects the value of this world as ‘hostile to God,’ revealed in the fact that people who have that will cannot obey God’s law (v.7). Thus, people who are ‘in the flesh [NIV controlled by the sinful nature] cannot please God’ (v.8).”[27]  Schreiner adds, “Because they ‘are of the flesh,’ those in the flesh, no matter how familiar they are with the commandments of the law, can never put them into practice. The only hope for keeping the commandments is to be united with the new Adam (Rom. 8:1-4), Jesus Christ. Those who are in Christ have received his Spirit and thereby are enabled to keep his law.”[28] It should be pointed out, and Cottrell does a nice job of bringing it out, that “The context shows that ‘cannot please God’ refers only to an inability to be subject to the law, and does not imply an inability to respond to the gospel. The failure to make this distinction is the main error of Calvinists’ interpretation of these verses. In other passages it is clear that the sinner is able and expected to respond to the gospel in faith and repentance (John 3:16; Romans 1:17; Rev. 22:17; see Matt. 23:37).”[29] “It is, in other words, not simply a matter of  ‘now you are saved, this is how you behave;’ it is a matter of genuine  humanness envisaged as God’s will for Israel being attained through the Spirit by God’s renewed people.”[30]



            Paul begins Romans 8 by reaching back to the beginnings of the book. It is here the ties all things together from earlier passages and points the book forward to the ending chapters. For those who are ‘in Christ,’ the Christians (which includes Jews and Gentile converts), there is no condemnation as the ‘law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ has set them free from the ‘law of sin and of death.’ Both of these laws are the same law, Torah, looked at through different perspectives. For those who are not ‘in Christ’ it is the ‘law of sin and of death.’ Yet, the same law, when lived by those who have the Spirit, becomes the ‘law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It should be noted that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), this is not negated in the passage. That faith coupled with baptism puts one ‘in Christ.’ Paul reaches back to Romans 6 with this point as well as reaching to his letter to the Galatians, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

The mindset of the one ‘in Christ’ is going to be set on doing the will of God, while those who are not united with Christ will find it impossible to please God.  The passage reaches forward to Romans 12 with the renewal of the mind. It reaches to Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Which reaches back to Romans 6 as well as out to Galatians 3:27.  This tightly woven passage concludes what has come before it as well as looking at what will come next, all the while reaching out to and staying faithful to Pauline theology. Those apart from Christ cannot please God, they cannot fulfill the law; those ‘in Christ’ have the ability through the Spirit to fulfill God’s law.  “It is clear that a person in whom the Spirit dwells will begin to be at peace with God; they will submit to God’s will; they will begin to live in a way that is actually pleasing to God.[31]


Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon

Pastor, Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ

North Carolina, USA



                [1] N.T. Wright, “Romans,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 397.


                [2] Douglas J. Moo, Romans: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan, 2000), 247.


                [3] N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 255.


                [4] N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), Kindle Locations 1712-1714.

                [5] All verses New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.


                [6] N.T. Wright, “Romans,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 575.


                [7] Schreiner, 399.


                [8] Moo, 248.


                [9] Cottrell, 261.


                [10] Michael J. Gorman, Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 276.


                [11] E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism (Minneapolis; Fortress Press, 1977), 460.


                [12] Cottrell, 261.


                [13] Sanders, 497.


                [14] N.T. Wright, “Romans,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 577.


                [15] Schreiner, 399.


                [16] Moo, 249.


                [17] Schreiner, 401.


                [18] James D.G. Dunn, Romans 1-8 (Dallas; Word, 1998), 419.


                [19] Cottrell, 262.


                [20] Sanders, 407.


                [21] N.T. Wright, Paul In Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 124.


                [22] F.F. Bruce, Paul: An Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1977), 206.


                [23] N.T. Wright, “Romans,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 582.


                [24] Wright, 582.


                [25] Cottrell, 267.


                [26] Cottrell, 267.


                [27] Moo, 251.


                [28] Schreiner, 413.


                [29] Cottrell, 268.


                [30] N.T. Wright, Paul In Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 124.

                [31] N.T. Wright, “Romans,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 589.

Baptism: Back to the Water

Hello my friend,

I have just finished reading your critique.  I would like to bring up baptism, which is a subject in which you and I seem to disagree a bit. You commented that baptizo also means to identify with. Yet, nowhere in scripture is it ever used in that way. My question, I guess, is how do we arrive at that usage of the word from the Bible. Throughout The Acts baptism is always used as water baptism; why would deviate from that?

In regards to Acts 2:38, Gaertner (1993, pp. 80-81) writes, “A number of commentators have diminished the force of the phrase ‘for the forgiveness of sins” as this point seeking to sage guard the doctrine of salvation by grace. They take the preposition ‘for (eis) to mean ‘because of’ rather than ‘in order to.’ Peter, they say meant to be baptized because of the forgiveness of sins, implying that such forgiveness had already been given by the time baptism was administered. This position disregards the very common use of eis in the New Testament to mean ‘for the purpose of, in order to.” Matthew 26:28 where the exact phrase appears, Jesus says his blood is poured out for (eis) the forgiveness of sins. It would be absurd to argue that the phrase means ‘because of’ and that Jesus’ blood was poured put because sins had already been forgiven.”

Both repent and be baptized are joined together by ‘kai.’ We do not argue that repentance is not needed. Yet, whatever repent is for in this sentence be baptized has to be for the same purpose.

You also mentioned that Paul and I would be at odds with each other. I don’t see it. Personally, I think Paul makes the stronger case for baptism. While I argue salvation is by grace, and grace alone through faith, I give way to Dr. Jack Cottrell (Jack Cottrell, Romans [Joplin: College Press, 2005, pp.219-20]) who writes, “this union with Christ is not effected in the ritual itself, either by the water or by the act. It is accomplished by the grace and power of the living God alone. That it happens in the act of baptism is simply a matter of God’s free and sovereign choice; he has appropriately designated this event as the occasion for the beginning of the saving union with the Redeemer. It is not wrong to say that the external ritual of water baptism symbolizes or has metaphorical connection with the saving union. What is wrong is to separate the symbol from the reality as if the temporal connection between them is irrelevant.”

Schreiner (Thomas Schreiner, Romans [Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1993, p. 306]) asserts that unbaptized Christians were virtually nonexistent. He writes, “to refer to those who were baptized is another way of describing those who are Christian, those who have put their faith in Christ. Thus Paul is saying here that all Christians have participated in the death and burial of Christ as all Christians had received baptism. To posit here that the baptism mentioned here is simply metaphorical or baptism in the spirit rather than water baptism is incorrect.”

N.T. Wright( writes, “Romans 6 is quite remarkable, when you think about it. Within twenty-five years of the crucifixion, Paul had already worked out this astonishingly deep and detailed theology of what it means to go through the waters of baptism, linking it to the Exodus, to creation, to new creation, and in particular to Jesus’ own death and resurrection.

Therefore, says Paul, the spectacular Good Friday and Easter at the heart of the Christian story—Jesus’ dying and rising—happened to us in baptism. Paul doesn’t hold back here: he doesn’t hedge and say “as if.” He simply says, You died with Christ in baptism and you were raised with him through the waters into the new life of belonging to Jesus.”

While many downplay the role of baptism, Paul raised it up. Many appeal to the thief on the cross, who died before the command to be baptized was given—his salvation was the same as any other Old Covenant salvation as it has to be remembered that at the thief’s death the New Covenant was not yet in force; it could only come into force  the death of Christ.

With this little bit said about baptism, which is highly biblical, is there any biblical evidence for the sinners’ prayer that has become so popular? Is there one New Covenant conversion where the sinner’s prayer is used and baptism is neglected?


Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon

Minister, Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ

North Carolina, USA


Urbis Et Orbis (To the city and to the world)

If I had a dollar for every time I asked someone for prayer and I forget to pray for them I could be a rich man. If I had a dollar for every time I realized I missed a chance to share the Gospel I could probably pay off the national debt. If I were a rich man it would not be because I had the dollar from each time I missed an opportunity; it would be because I was not missing opportunities. Yet, because I am flesh and a fallen man I do not always see things perfect. Only, hindsight can be 20/20.

By drawing closer to God the vision improves as vision comes from God. And vision is important throughout or Christian walk. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV). This vision is not limited to the person who has accepted Christ, but to the evangelist as well. For if the evangelist had no vision opportunities will be missed, some people not reached, and people will perish without every hearing the Good News. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “[Jesus] gave gifts to men” (Ephesians 4:8, NASB). Wheeler and Leach ask, “What would life be like for you if you used your assets (gifts) to serve others in your neighborhood, in your community, in your sphere of influence?”[1]

While we may have the best of intentions, too many times our spiritual eyes are not open to the needs of others around us. We miss opportunities only to later realize we had a chance and missed it. Many times that door may not be opened for us again with that individual person. We need to open our spiritual eyes in all situations and be prepared not only to see the need that is presented, but be prepared to take the opportunity. “When we share the gospel with people, we are not calling them to a heavenly good buddy they can be folksy with. We are not simply calling them to a Cosmic Psychologist who can give them personal wholeness and heightened self-esteem. We are calling the to a Redeemer, who alone can save them from their sins.”[2] The first command from the risen Lord was to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19, ESV).  Acts  1:8 tells us that “[WE] will be [HIS] witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (ESV). It is hard to get to the ends of the earth without first going through our own backyards.  We then should be, as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) making his appeal to everyone everywhere.


            Evangelism starts in our homes. For many families the time spent with God and doing God’s work is relegated to Sunday mornings and maybe an occasional Sunday and Wednesday night.  To those known as the Chreasters[3] their time is relegated to two times a year: Christmas and Easter. For these people the total obligation to God is in attending church, not always on a regular basis. Pipes and Lee have another opinion, “Healthy families pass the baton of faith in Christ on to the next generation. It is not the church’s sole responsibility– or anyone else’s– to win your children to Christ and mentor them spiritually; it is yours.”[4] Yet, as Abbot Christopher Jamison writes, “People speak and act as if being busy is a force beyond their control…we are now stuck with a way of life that is a breathless rush. ‘People don’t have time like they used to.’”[5] When time gets tight it seems it is most of the time God’s time that gets cut.

Proverbs tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).  While the age of accountability may be different per child raising a child in the ways of the Lord should start at birth. Pipes and Lee write, “John 20:21 (NIV), the fourth Great Commission passage, far less quoted than others, reads, ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’”[6] As parents the discipleship of children starts at home. Rusaw and Swanson add, “Though we often speak of life and all it compromises as gifts from God, they are unique ‘gifts’ in that, technically, they still belong to him.[7] When those gifts are used in the home they serve to train up a child in the way of the Lord. Tobit instructed Tobias to “Watch yourself, my son, in everything you do, and be disciplined in all your conduct” (Tobit 4:4). The real aim at serving though comes in verse 16, “Give of your bread to the hungry, and of your clothing to the naked. Give all your surplus to charity, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it” (Tobit 4:16). The training of our children starts in our own personal Jerusalem: Our homes.

Judea and Samaria

            The real test of our evangelism comes when we step out of our Jerusalem and get into the world. Dorothy Gail, in the end of the old Wizard of  Oz movie realized that if she ever went searching again it would be no farther than her own backyard. The truth is you cannot get to the ends of the earth without first going through your own yard, neighborhood, and city.

The old evangelism used to be knocking on someone’s door and asking, “If you died right now do you know where you would go?” In its most basic form this is nothing but a tactic to scare people into accepting Christ. But, does scare tactics make genuine converts? The crusades seemed to prove that scare tactics do not work. Knocking on the doors of people’s hearts instead of their houses seems to be a much more workable plan. Many people we meet in an evangelistic situation have never heard of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. The only gospel they have come in contact with is the gospel they see us live.

Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “Always preach the Gospel; if necessary use words.” Basically, our lives should be open testaments to Jesus Christ. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:20, “[We] have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer [we] who live, but Christ who lives in [us]. And the life [we] now live in the flesh [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us] (ESV). We knock on the doors of people’s hearts when we live our lives according to scripture fulfilling the great commission. Yet, the flaw in Francis’ quote is that as well as living the gospel out in our lives, there is always a necessity to use words: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12, KJV).  At some point we have to use words in order that people know the reason we do what we do.

As Christians, people may see us going into church on any given Sunday morning and assume one thing or another about our faith. But it is when we are outside of the church that we enter the mission field. What type of witness do we give for Christ on the golf course, way back in the express lane at Wal-Mart when someone in front of us has more than the required 20 items, or when UNC loses to Duke? How does our life reflect Christ, and open doors to hearts, when we have a neighbor in need, and we have the resources to meet the need, yet we do not meet the need? “Doing good, even in the name of Jesus, will bring few to Christ when others see no inward transformation in those reaching out to them.”[8] We are Christians, charged with a great commission, 24 hours a day and it is in our daily lives that we witness most for Christ. In commenting on Matthew 25:40, Pipes and Lee write, “In the world around you who did you see in need? What was the need? Did you attempt to meet it? If so you did it for Me. If not, you failed me.”[9] But, even when we meet needs there comes a time when we have let it be known in whose name we serve.

Through serving others (Matthew 25:30-40), we can play our part in the great commission (Matthew 28:19). But, it has to always be remembered in whose name we serve, and that name has to be preached with words in order for anyone to be saved. Because of our faith we are saved and “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV).

The Ends of the Earth

            Many of us will never be able to be long term missionaries in foreign lands. For that matter, most of us will never be able to take a short term mission trip. But, that does not mean we cannot take the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. “Conversely, the most pious, moral believers who refuse to help the needy of the world will find their attempts to convince others of Jesus’ love often falling on deaf ear.”[10]

Jesus tells an interesting story about meeting needs in Luke 10. The story of the Good Samaritan has become one of Jesus’ better known stories. While the man who has been beaten and left for dead is past by a few different people (the very people one would have thought would have given help), help came from the least likely of sources: A man from a people group that were enemies with the Jews. The Samaritan immediately tended to the Jew’s pressing needs. Then, he took the man to an inn and put him up. He told the innkeeper to keep the man there until well and if any more charges were incurred he would pay them when he (the Samaritan) returned to the area. For us going to the end of the earth there is practical advice for all missions, but our world missions most of all.

For those who make overseas mission trips Jesus shows us how to meet the needs of those we encounter. But, for those who cannot make an overseas mission trip (either long or short term) Jesus shows how we can be part of that mission: Through our monetary support. Rusaw and  Swanson write, “It takes money to meet the needs in your community or your neighborhood. You should give, but never at the expense of involvement.”[11] While we are involved in evangelism in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and counties, we can still, through the giving of money, food, and many other items be involved in foreign missions by donations of necessities with those in lands which our feet will never touch. We have to always remembered that there are needs to be meet at all times not just during natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The poor of the world should be on our minds even at times when they are not on the minds of the rest of the world. “Being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having  than having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world.”[12] We can transform lives in other lands and never step foot in the other lands by supporting the evangelistic efforts of others.


            Jesus gave us a Great Commission in Matthew 28 to god and Make disciples. In Acts 1 he told where we were to begin in the making of disciples. It starts in the home and spreads to the uttermost parts of the world, and we are to be a part of it. When we come together to be a family for God we begin our evangelistic journey. When children arrive they are to be brought up in the ways of the Lord; this is our first attempt at evangelism and discipleship. As our children age they begin to live a life conforming to the image of His Son as we daily renew our minds. From the home (our own personal Jerusalem) our evangelistic efforts spread out to Judea and Samaria: our neighborhoods and cities. We make inroads to the lost by the way we act around them and by the way we serve them. We go to the ends of the earth in the form of mission trips as well as our support of those who are on the ground in other lands for missions. Greer and Smith appropriately ask, “Doesn’t it seem like the church should be focused on achievable goals– like saving souls– rather than a utopian social dream?”[13]

Jesus said, “For you always have the poor with you” (Mark 14:7). We will never stamp out poverty, but we can help bring in poverty of spirit “for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Psalm 69:32-33:

The poor will see and be glad—

you who seek God, may your hearts live!

The Lord hears the needy

and does not despise his captive people.


When we serve the poor, both at home and abroad, in the name of Jesus the poor will be glad. We are after all, to “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  In other words, Urbis Et Orbi.


Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon

Minister, Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ

North Carolina, USA



                [1] Richard Leach and David A. Wheeler, Ministering To Others (Nashville: LifeWay Press, 2009), 6.

                [2] Terry A. Bowland, Make Disciples: Reaching the Postmodern World for Christ (Joplin: College Press, 2005), 60.

                [3] My term for those who only make it to church on Christmas and Easter. I have been unable to track down an originating source for the word; I did not make the word up. I am not trying to pass it off as mine.

                [4] Dr. Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy (United States: Jerry F. Pipes, 2005),  43.

                [5] Abbot Christopher Jamison, Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps For Everyday Life (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2006), 13.

                [6] Pipes and Lee, 30.

                [7] Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson, Living A Life On Loan (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 2006), 12.

                [8] Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kammell, James (Grand Rrapids: Zondervan, 2008), 100.

                [9] Pipes and Lee, 70.

                [10] Blomberg and Kammell, 100.

                [11] Rusaw and Swanson, 134.

                [12] Richard  Stearns, The Hole In Our Gospel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 2.

                [13] Peter Greer and Phil Smith, The Poor Will Be Glad (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 32.


 According to ideas of many God puts individual rulers in place. If that is in fact true, what is the use in voting? Of course those who hold to such opinions appeal to Romans 13. While Moo  asserts that the paragraph as a whole is “coherent and well-organized argument about … the need for submission to governing authorities,”[1] Cotrell better sums it up saying, “Indeed, this passage presents the clearest biblical teaching concerning the divine origin and God-intended purpose of human government.”[2] One of the problems lies in the interpretation of Jesus.  While it is readily admitted that Jesus was both God and man (100% of each), it is not so readily admitted that as 100% man he was just that: Man! While it is admitted that Jesus was there to usher in the Kingdom of God, few want to admit that there was political ramifications involved.

If God has thus ordained each individual leader, each time ANYONE enters a voting booth and cast a ballot against the leader that God is ordaining they are in essence casting a ballot against the rule of God. Not knowing the outcome of an election, if 2 Christians go to vote and one votes in favor of candidate “A” and the other for candidate “B” one has by logic cast a ballot against the will of God.

Cotrell writes that, “God is the one who has established human government and decreed its purpose.”[3] Yet, as Cotrell rightly points out, he has not prescribed any one particular form.[4] So the same God who ordained Torah, also put into place dictatorships and the American presidency: The God who put into place the Levites also put into place dictatorships and the presidency. Thus many argue (unsuccessfully) that the God who put Aaron in place also put Hitler and Reagan and Obama into their appointed positions. If that is the case then man no longer has free will. Man is simply part of the Ruy Lopez in the mind of God.

So does one submit to the governing authorities? As Christians we are to submit to God (James 4:7). Jesus himself said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24). It brings to mind Jesus’ story of “rendering unto Caesar.” In Mark 12:12 there is a plot being set to trap Jesus. It has to be remembered that the Caesars thought of themselves as gods. The question then was  posed to Jesus, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” In true rhetoric of the time Jesus answers the question with a question: Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” , “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” It is in Jesus next words where most say Jesus is advocating paying taxes and supporting the government: Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  Yet, is it really taxes to a government that Jesus is advocating? Or, could it be that he is telling them to choose where their allegiance lies?

If one is a Christian then he rightly understands that everything he has belongs to God. So, if a Christian renders unto God the things that are God’s what is left to render unto Caesar? Nothing. As long as Governments are reflecting godly principles we should support them. But, just because the office is ordained by God does not mean the man who sits in the office even knows the name.

To interpret the verse as God putting each individual leader into office one has wrestle with the following propositions::

  1. God ordained Hitler and thus the murder of millions of Jews.
  2. God is ordaining the murders of innocent men, women, and children in Syria.
  3. If God has ordained all leaders, does America (or any other country) have the right to remove a God ordained leader … such as Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein?

So, who would Jesus vote for? He would vote for whoever is going to fulfill the purpose of governing bodies. “The ultimate goal or purpose of Government is a positive one, i.e., to protect the rights of the citizens. This positive task is described in 13:4, ‘he is God’s servant to do good.’ It is stated in more detail in 1 Timothy 2:2, which says we should pray for the governing authorities ti the end ‘that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’ The ultimate purpose of government is to make this possible.”[5]


Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon

Minister, Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ

North Carolina, USA


                [1] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 790.

                [2] Jack Cotrell,  Romans (Joplin: College Press, 2005), 474.

                [3] Cotrell, 476.

                [4] Cotrell, 476.

                [5] Cotrell, 475.


(I miss Mayberry part 2 of series)

1 Corinthians 9:22

One of the first episodes of the Andy Griffith show, maybe the very first, opens with the wedding of Andy’s housekeeper/nanny for Opie, Rose. Of course as justice of the peace Andy tries the marry Rose and her fiancé, Opies struggles just as hard to keep the two from becoming one! And, why wouldn’t he, I mean Rose was a lady among ladies; she could play baseball, fish, and hunt frogs. For a five year olds Boy she was a keeper!

Andy has made arrangements for his former nanny to take her place. Now enters the prim and proper Aunt Bea (who knows nothing of playing baseball, fishing, or frog hunting). And, Opie picked up on these character flaws very fast! But, Aunt Bea showed her adaptability. She tried learning these essential skills under the coaching of Andy and Opie. Yet, she couldn’t quite make the grade. It is here where a tearful Aunt Bea prepares to leave while a tearful Opie looks out the window. And, it is here that the story takes a dramatic change: Opie runs down to the car to stop Aunt Bea from leaving. His logic? Who will take care of her? After all she can’t do anything! Well, at least the essential things like playing baseball, fishing and hunting frogs!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Both Opie and Aunt Bea were prepared to do just that. Aunt Bea was prepared to set aside her proper lifestyle to meet the needs of Opie. She didn’t compromise her beliefs; she was just prepared to get dirty that she might win Opie. She was prepared to hunt frogs; she was prepared to fish. Aunt Bea was prepared to get out of her own comfort zone. Too often we see people who aren’t exactly like us and we just write them off. Yet, to those people Paul became like them, without sacrificing the gospel, so that he might win them.

It is easy for us Christians to guild the lily with all kinds of fancy language and terms, But, for those who are weak, or never have even heard, it means little to them. We have to step out of our comfort zones and step into theirs. We have to be like Aunt Bea and be prepared to get dirty. And, we have to be like Opie and recognize that some people are lost and need our help.

We do it all so that some might be saved. Just imagine, there are some people in our world who don’t know the gospel. They don’t know how to play baseball, fish, or hunt frogs. We are called to bring them up to speed. We are called to get dirty.

The next time you see that person in your world who doesn’t know Jesus, but his/her lifestyle might be a bit different than yours, ask your self, “Can you be an Aunt Bea or and Opie in their life?”


In the last few weeks I have accepted the position of senior minister at Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ. If you are visiting North Eastern North Carolina come by and visit us (send me a message for directions).


Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon

Minister, Belvidere-Ryland Church of Christ

North Carolina, USA





In a land where beginnings and first are common place, it should be no surprise that another beginning has occurred. The land known as North Carolina’s Outer Banks has seen such beginnings as the first attempt at an English Colony, what has become known as the Lost Colony; the first English child born in the New World, Virginia Dare; Orville and Wilbur Wright’s First Flight.

With meager, yet eager, beginnings on Sunday 10 July 2011 another new beginning came to Roanoke Island. Meeting for the first time in a house, Manteo Church of Christ was born. This is a New Testament church. A house of worship for all people.

While we start small in number, we offer Sunday School and Bible Studies for all ages. Our services are Sunday School at 10am on Sunday morning, followed by Preaching service at 11am on Sunday mornings. On Wednesday nights beginning on 20 July we will begin our Bible Studies at 6:30.

It you are living on the outer banks and looking for a place to worship and come closer to God, come see us. If you are visiting the Outer Banks and looking for a place to worship, come see spend your Sunday and Wednesday with us.

We are currently meeting in the lounge of the College of The Albemarle Dare County Campus on Russell Twiford Road at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and state road 345 in Manteo. We are located just minutes from The Lost Colony symphonic drama at the Historic Waterside Theatre, Fort Raleigh National Park, and the North Carolina Aquarium.

Pray for us and with us as we let God work through us in this new work. For more information email me at



Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon

Minister, Manteo Church of Christ

North Carolina, USA


We knew when the little man came into our lives that he had health problems. It didn’t take but a second for the little man to win our hearts and become an integral part of the family. He has born with a very serious heart murmur that couldn’t be repaired due to other birth defects in the heart. His hips were bad, along with one knee joint being bad. We knew his life would probably be shorter than average, but it was out goal to give him as “gooda” life as possible. And in two short years he was covered with love and the best of medical care. Yet, knowing that one has serious medical conditions and will live a shortened life does not prepare one for the heartbreak when that time comes. We lost the little man the first day of March.

Sadly there are many little men, and little women, in our world today that aren’t puppies but people. Yet, somehow through our busy schedules we seem to overlook them. Their plights are all but forgotten too us unless we turn on the television and catch an advertisement. I mean after all isn’t that the governments job?

Somehow in the grind of the American dream we’ve changed the Jesus of the Bible into American Jesus. What he said we should do we’ve changed to “what we want to do.” We’ve forgotten that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

Millions of people in our world go to bed hungry each night. And when they do we need to remember the words of Jesus when he said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45).  In our lives of excess we have somehow managed to become blinded to those who are in dire need, be their need be food, or medical attention, our just a touch from someone who cares (Mark 1:41).

Jesus told us that “whatever [we] did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, [we] did for [Him]” (Matthew 25:40). Yet, for many Christians we have decided this is the job of the governments. We have become content with letting government programs do what God called us to do. We allow our pets to live more luxurious lives than many people throughout our world. There is nothing wrong with letting our pets live good lives, we are called to be good stewards over creation, but shouldn’t we elevate our fellow man also?

Pray for those in our world that are without.

I miss you my Little Man!

Please continue praying for the Mid Atlantic Christian University family.

If you are in the area come see me at the ROANOKE ACRES CHURCH OF CHRIST

Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon

Minister, Roanoke Acres Church of Christ

North Carolina, USA


I love March Madness. All the excitement of seeing which college basketball team will end up being the best in the nation. John wrote, “There is a sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16). And to this day I can’t say for certain that pulling for Duke is not that sin! But the real reason I like March madness isn’t because of any college basketball team; it is because I know that when March Madness comes baseball season is just around the corner. And, what better place for a little Theology than the baseball diamond?

Curt Simmons said, “Trying to throw a fastball by Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak a sunrise past a rooster.”  You know there are people, Christians mind you, that believe they can sneak their sin past God. That somehow they can sin in secret and God won’t know. You may sin and the person next to you in church have no idea, but I can promise you that God knows. In discussing prayer Jesus said this of the Father, “your Father, who sees what is done in secret” (Matthew 6:6). Whatever you do the Father sees. If you are fast enough, and I mean really fast, you might sneak a fast ball past Hammerin’ Hank. Or you might cover a rooster’s eyes and a sneak a sunrise in. But, you cannot sneak sin past God.

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference,” said Tommy Lasorda. Our spiritual lives are no different. We know there are going to be some spiritual battles that we are going to win: Praise God! But, there are some that we will lose.  There will be times when we fall to the temptation of sin. And it is in those times that we have to know that we have a savior waiting to help us. We have to call on our spiritual bullpen. John wrote, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  But, what about the third of the equation? John wrote in 1 John 5:16 that there is sin that leads to death. When we live in habitual sin we are going down a baseline that will not lead us to score. These habitual sins are not repented of. We are not forgiven nor cleansed form the unrighteousness. And it most cases it is these habitual sins that we are trying to sneak past God!

Casey Stengel said of former Yankee Catcher Yogi Berra, “He’d fall in a sewer and come up with a gold watch.” That is exactly what we do with Christ. Apart from Christ our lives are down in the sewer.  Sin has made us as filthy as anything that you find in a sewer: it has separated us from God. But when we come to Christ and we repent of our sin we become new creatures. Paul wrote, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). We go down in that water like something that was in a sewer and come up like a gold watch! Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Nothing could be better than a day at the ball park: Baseball; Hot dogs; and God! Tommy Lasorda said, “”There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.” Which type of spiritual player are you?

Please continue praying for the Mid Atlantic Christian University family.

If you are in the area come see me at the ROANOKE ACRES CHURCH OF CHRIST

Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon
North Carolina, USA


As I write this today the baseball world is mourning the loss of New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. The “Boss,” as he was known, was known for being able to put together a team that would almost always be in contention for the championship. He would always seem to come up with a team of greats. He knew it took a team.  One cannot think of baseball without remembering some of the great players of the past, and some of the great quotes they made. So, today, once more, I turn to the “diamond” for a little theology and find out that it takes a team.

Former Chicago Cubby Vance Law said, “When you’re in a slump, it’s almost as if you look out at the field and it’s one big glove.”  Sin in our lives is the same way. When we stumble and sin, the jaws of even more sin is waiting to devour us. Our desire for pleasure, fed by the sin, seems can never seem to be satisfied. One sin will lead to another and to another until we find ourselves deep in the pit and mire of sin totally living away from Christ.

James said that we are to “Therefore, confess [our] sins to one another” (James 5:16). We bring in our brother/sister in faith and let them know where we have failed, or where we are about to fall. That small act of humbling ourselves can take the weight of the world off our shoulders. It throws darkness into light. And, we all know when we turn on the lights the darkness is gone. It makes us accountable.

We live in a world where we think we can handle everything on our own. Unfortunately for some many of us that is not the case. And, when what we are trying to handle is sin it sometimes even gets hard to handle by ourselves. It takes a team. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). We are to encourage each other. We are to encourage others just as they are to encourage us.  We can get all the self help books money can buy, but there is only one that helps with sin: The Bible. And, it encourages us to rely on the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It takes a team.

Baseball has long had a history of “greats of the game.” We cherish the memory of what these guys did on the field. Our faith is no different. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin” (Hebrews 12:1). Our scriptures are filled with great stories of faith, and all around us great men and women of faith still bare witness. We need let these witnesses encourage us. We need to let them build us up not just in our time of need, but to refuel us at all times. It takes a team.

Former Yankee Billy Martin once said, “I may not have been the best Yankee to put on the pinstripes, but I am the proudest.” In our Christian walk it is a great thing that we don’t have a Father that keeps statistics like Major League Baseball does.  If that was the case we would none be considered “best Christians” because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But we serve a God that forgives and does not count our sins: I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25). When we rely on our teammates and follow the leading of our perfect Manager we can get past the sins that plague us and separate us from the Father. It takes a team!

Next Month is a special month at “Here In The Real World”. We will have several guest writers all writing on the topic of UNITY. Here is the list of writers:

Chris Stanley- Campus Minister at Mid Atlantic Christian University

Chris Gallagher- The Preacher’s Pen

Paula Harrington- Paula’s website

Tim Archer- Kitchen of Half Baked Thoughts

Doug Young-

Trey Morgan-

John Dobbs- Out Here Hope Remains

If you are in the area come see me at the ROANOKE ACRES CHURCH OF CHRIST

Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!


yogiTo most people he was not even noticed as he stood in the dark. His dark weathered skin not showing up even with the distant lights. But, the cracked red lips that have been in the weather for years stood out. Most passersby didn’t notice him at all, nor had they for the years he had been there. Some noticed and saw the scum of the earth. They saw a no count lazy homeless black man if they saw anything at all. But I saw something different. I saw the cracked lips of someone in need. I saw the savior sitting at the well needing a drink of water.

To a good many people we are may be the first and only Jesus they have ever seen. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to follow his example (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul had lived a life among them that they were to follow. A life that they were to imitate. He lived the kind of life that when they saw Paul they might be seeing a reflection of Jesus. After all Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The example then was that we should be Christ like. How can we be Christ like, how can we be Christians and see our brothers in need and walk by not noticing them? A helping hand, a touch or even just a moment of conversation can open these people in need up to the Gospel of the Lord. To them we are representatives of the Risen Savior. To us they are the same Risen Savior!

Jesus was asked, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink” (Matthew 25:37)? And, Jesus replied, “The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). We serve Christ by serving those around us in need. Maybe they are in our neighborhoods. Maybe they are in other towns Maybe they are in other countries. There are people all around us that need our help. And, when we serve them we serve the Risen Savior. Just as we represent Christ to them, they represent Christ to them. As we serve each other we serve Christ.

We are the first Christ that many people see. In turn, when we serve them they are the Risen Savior that we serve: they represent Christ to us. When we look at the needed and they look at us Jesus looks in a mirror. Today as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ we need to look around and see Christ all around us and be prepared to represent Him to others. Jesus is grown now; he can feed himself. Are you willing to be His spoon?

There are many ministries around that help the poor and the homeless. One such near me is PIN Ministries. Look in your area and maybe you can give Jesus a bite to eat.

Until next time May The Good Lord Bless And Keep You: All Y’all!

Bobby Cohoon
North Carolina, USA