Blessing our enemies may be the hardest commandment to live up to in all the New Testament. If our lives are truly shaped by grace, however, we will find ways to bring joy and truth to those who oppose us. Alistair Begg shows us that the foremost way we live out the truth of God’s love for us and others is by blessing those who curse us. This radical approach to combative people shows both fellow believers and a watching world that we truly belong to Christ.
Well, we’re going to turn again this evening to Romans chapter 12 and see if we can’t come to the end of Romans 12. And our focus is on verses 19, 20, and 21—really, verses 20 and 21. But we’ll just read from verse 17:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:
“‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Once again, Father, we pray for the help of the Holy Spirit as we try and bring our minds underneath the dictate of the Bible, as we open our hearts to the scrutiny that they so desperately need, in order that we might be conformed to the image of your Son, in whose name we pray. Amen.
I recognize that some were not here this morning, and we began to look at this little section and, in tackling verse 19—“Beloved, never [take revenge],” as it says in the ESV, or “My dear friends, don’t take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it’s written, ‘It’s mine to avenge, I will repay’”—I recognized in the nature of things that it’s almost inevitable that it would raise questions concerning tangential but important aspects that flow from this. And if we’d had the chance to do Q and A directly afterwards, then I’m sure that we could’ve cleared up some of the potential misunderstandings. So I want to take just a moment before I get to verse 20 to address a couple of things that have been raised to me by email already.
And let me begin by saying this: we have to be careful that when we come to a verse like 19 and to a phrase like “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves” or “never execute vengeance”—we’ve got to be very, very careful that we do not denude the text of its impact by immediately seeking to qualify it in a thousand different ways, so that we recognize the very striking nature of it, and then we’re going to say, “But, of course, it doesn’t mean this and it doesn’t mean that.” I chose not to do that this morning because I wanted us to understand exactly what it does mean and to face full on, as it were, the very striking nature of the way in which it is expressed.
And you find the same thing in relationship to the apostles, remember, when they say, “Judge for yourselves whether it’s right for us to obey you or to obey God.” And people very, very quickly go to that, often to use it as a sort of argument in favor of some modified form of Christian insurrection because we don’t like what’s happening politically, and so we employ that—the exception clause, if you like—to allow us to feel a little better about the fact that we don’t like what’s going on and we feel that we have a justifiable reason to protest things from a political perspective.
The key, I think, in recognizing the challenge that is contained here is to distinguish between what Paul is saying here on a personal level about personal wrongs that are done to individuals and the temptation for us as individuals to then execute personal vengeance. And the distinction between that interpersonal relationship, which is in 12, and the issues of civil government, which is in 13, is very, very important to keep in mind.
And that, incidentally, is what we need to keep in mind in relationship to the imprecatory psalms, which is one of the other questions that was immediately raised by the time I finished this morning; somebody came up and said, “Well, what about David when he says all those things and calls down all those curses on people in the imprecatory psalms?” And the answer to that, I think, is the same answer: that David was not there executing any form of personal vengeance, but he was viewing the glory and majesty of God in light of the wholesale rebellion of the culture, and he was saying to God, “God, you must, for the glory and honor of your name, deal with these circumstances.” But he was not actually doing that on a personal level.
So, we need to realize that what this is saying, it is saying; and it does not mean that we are therefore unconcerned about issues of truth, about issues of righteousness, or about issues of justice.
And let me give you just a couple of passages that you can take to yourself and think about. I’m not going to expound them. But let me just turn you, for example, to Acts chapter 16. And in Acts chapter 16 you have the story of Paul and Silas, who are dragged away and thrown into the jail, you will remember. They’re accused of doing things unlawfully, they’re put in the stocks, they are singing at midnight, there’s an earthquake, and so on. And when everything is finally hunky-dory and the jailer and his family have been baptized and they’re all filled with joy and they’re having a wonderful time—verse 35—Luke records for us,
When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”
But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though [we’re] Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed.
Why? Because they knew they’d done wrong. What they had done was illegal. It was a violation of the code of ethics that was represented in the culture. And “they came to appease them”—that is, Paul and Silas—“and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.” and then the story goes on from there.
Now, you see, Paul is not here avenging himself. Paul is not simply being cussed in this response. Paul, as a citizen, is concerned for the honor, the glory, and the dignity of due legal process. And there is no sense of vengeance in what he does, but there is the distinction between executing some form of retaliation and upholding the rule of law, which he recognizes, as a Roman citizen, is there to be upheld. These individuals were violating the law, and therefore the society needed to be confronted.
Acts 23 is one other. And as I say, you can work these things out on your own, but I want to just send you in the right direction. Acts 23: “Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, ‘My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all … conscience to this day.’ At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.” Do you remember this one? So the high priest says, “Hit him in the face.” “At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!’” You see?
So this nineteenth verse of Romans 12 is not some kind of mamby-pamby passivity. It’s pressed in that way by some. It’s pressed also to the issue of pacifism by many, who say, “You see, it isn’t possible for a Christian, then, to be engaged in war. It is impossible for any Christian to have anything other than disdain for what has happened to Osama bin Laden in the last ten days. Because after all, look at what it says in Romans 12:19; look at what it says in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Turn the other cheek.’ That doesn’t look like turning the other cheek!” How do you answer that?
Well, you answer that by comparing Scripture with Scripture. You answer that, again, by making sure that we understand the distinction between the seeking of personal vengeance and the duty to uphold the rule of law—by distinguishing between the Sermon on the Mount, which is addressed to individuals and not to the state. The word that is given there is for interpersonal relationships; it is not a word that is given to determine the role of the state either in warfare or in the execution of justice.
Now, we could go on, but we mustn’t. But if we keep that in mind—that distinction in mind—then we will at least be helped; we will at least be in the right direction.
Now, let’s get back to our passage and to verse 20. Because in verse 20, Paul then moves from the negative to the positive. It’s interesting how often he starts with the negative and then goes to the positive. It’s his pattern all the way through this section. I’m sure you’ve noted that: “Do not do this, but do that. Don’t do this, but do that. Don’t take revenge; leave it to the wrath of God, because this is God’s prerogative,” and then he turns to the positive.
Actually, in some ways verse 19 is much easier than verse 20, isn’t it? Because although verse 19 has to do with the matter of the heart and our internal motivation and so on, in verse 19 no action is required. It’s something you’re not to do. So as long as you don’t do it, you can say, “Well, I didn’t do it! Therefore, I’m golden. It says, ‘Don’t do this,’ and I didn’t do it. That’s super!” Well, it would be super if it ended with verse 19. But it doesn’t. Because it goes to verse 20. And in verse 20, the quote is from Proverbs 25, which you can find later on on your own, and Paul says, “On the contrary, what you need to do for your enemies is to actually treat them with kindness.”
Now, it would be a wooden reading of the text to suggest for a moment that this is something that applies only if you have an enemy who’s hungry or only if you have an enemy who is thirsty. So if you don’t have any hungry or thirsty enemies, then you’re in the clear as well, because it’s only if they happen to be hungry or thirsty. You say, “You hungry?” “No.” “Beautiful! That’s wonderful. I can just ignore you, which is what I was planning on doing from the beginning.” No. That would be a silly approach to the Bible, wouldn’t it? Clearly, we understand what he’s saying. We are not to disdain them, we are not to wreak vengeance on them, we are not to retaliate towards them; we’re actually to do good to them.
And so the thing just gets tougher. I mean, how tough is this? Just when we thought we were in the clear by not avenging ourselves—just when we had convinced ourselves that ignoring her or ignoring him will take care of the problem—we look at verse 20 and we find out that we’re supposed to show up at their door with a six-pack of Diet Pepsi and a big bag of Doritos. That’s what he’s really saying. We’re not off the hook when we manage to make it through verse 19, because verse 19 is followed by verse 20. “You haven’t finished the program,” he says, “by refraining to execute vengeance.” Because what God requires of us is that we act in this way. If God’s part is to respond in justice, as it is in verse 19, then our part is to respond in a spirit of generosity.
“Well,” you say, “let me read on. Oh, I see! Oh, well this is a little better,” as you go to the second half of verse 20. “Oh, this is good! If I do that, I see that the person who’s been a real challenge to me, he gets a barbecue tipped on his head. Oh, I like that a lot better! That is nice now. Now things are beginning to look up.” Well, clearly, that would be stupidity as well, wouldn’t it? It’s understandable, but I hear people saying this all of the time! “And, well, you’ll get the coals of fire on your head! And I hope they’re big ones for you, you miserable whatever-you-are. They’ll heap the burning coals on your head,” you know? This isn’t in here as an incentive! This is in here as a consequence: “If you do this, this’ll happen.” He doesn’t say, “Do this so that it will happen.”
Now, whether this is a reference to an ancient Egyptian ritual in which burning coals would be carried on the head of an individual as a symbol of penitence, I’m not qualified to say. Some of the commentators say that with great forcefulness: this is an ancient Egyptian ritual. I don’t know whether it is or it isn’t. It seems to me that it is pretty straightforward that it is a metaphor—that it is a picture, obviously. And the sort of literal expression of it in the Egyptian ritual may or may not be, but most of the commentators agree that it is a metaphor for the pain of shame and remorse which will be the experience of the individual who recognizes that, given what he or she has done, really deserves the kind of retribution that would be natural; and instead of being pushed back or responded to in the same measure, we have shown to them kindness, we have expressed generosity, we have actually treated them in a way that is entirely alien and foundationally supernatural. Then, says the Bible, that will actually find these people walking, as it were, with the coals of shame on their head.
It’s important that we recognize that these coals are not coals, then, that bring hurt, but they’re coals that bring healing—that the impact is an impact that brings reconciliation, that draws the individual to us, not that drives the individual from us. Because, you see, the perversity of our hearts, if we’re honest, is such that we would be quite happy, many of us, to find out that these burning coals actually did land on their head and burned them and scarred them, and they could go away and do whatever they wanted for the rest of their lives, because after all, it’s nothing less than they deserve! And then, as soon as we go there, we know, “This isn’t like Jesus, this doesn’t look like Jesus, this doesn’t sound like Jesus; this has got nothing to do with Jesus. And the Spirit of God is in the process of making me like Jesus!” That’s what makes it so incredibly challenging.
Calvin observes, “And so your enemy’s mind will be torn in one of two ways, either softened by kindness or stung and tormented by his conscience.” So Calvin’s not prepared to commit himself one way or another. He keeps his options open. He says, “What will happen is that they will either be softened by this,” in the same way that, for example, in Romans 2 it says, “Do you show contempt for the way that God has been so manifestly gracious towards you, not realizing that it is his kindness that leads you to repentance?”—a kindness that is emblematic in the story of the two boys in Luke 15, isn’t it?
I mean, what is it that brings the boy back up the road to his father’s house? It’s not simply the awareness of the fact that he’d made a royal hash of things. He could’ve come to his senses and said all the things that he said: “I’ve sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. And so I’m just gonna stay in the pigsty for the rest of my life, or I’ll get a job somewhere else, but I’ll never go back!” What is it that brings him back up the road? It’s not simply the awareness of his sin; it’s the prospect of his father’s mercy: “I’ll arise and I’ll go to my father. I can tell him. I don’t deserve anything.”
Was there ever a party like this party? Only a Pharisee could miss a party like this. Only some hard-hearted customer like the elder brother could miss this. And Jesus told those stories to confront the Pharisees, who were saying, “We don’t like this guy. He spends time with sinners, and he eats with them.” Of course he does! If he didn’t, which of us could ever sit down at the Communion table?
Now, when we move from that to this, we realize that we have no leg to stand on to try and distance ourselves from this application by means of our qualifications. Our enemies’ minds will be able to cope with our arguments. Our enemies’ spirits will probably be strong enough to resist and to stand against our threats. But they may yet crumble—they may yet crumble—as a result of the pervasive influence of love in action. You go argue with them, they’ll give you straight back. You threaten them, no problem. You love them? You treat them in the way they don’t deserve? We treat them in the way that we have been treated in Christ by God the Father?
I’m forced to say that in many circumstances in my own life, and possibly in yours, and certainly in our lives as a church family, we have yet to see the impact of that kind of persuasive love in action, because the perversity of our own hearts is such that we are like the man in the parable of the good Samaritan who, seeking to justify himself, said, “Who is my neighbor?” In other words, “Tell me the small group of people that I have to be nice to.” And then Jesus tells that story that just blows the whole thing completely apart. “A Samaritan? You can’t have a Samaritan as the hero of the story!” Oh, yes!
I actually came across a wonderful illustration of this in my reading this past week. I found the story of a young lady who’d gone as a missionary to the Far East. She had been a student at Cambridge in the 1940s—Cambridge University. And in 1946—’45, ’46, ’47, at Cambridge—she was actually the secretary of the Communist Party. Apparently, the winter of ’46 into ’47 in England was phenomenally severe, and the pipes were frozen to a significant level, which led in turn to a shortage of water, which meant the accommodation in which these students were living at Cambridge was such that they found themselves, these girls, only able to get a bath once a week. Now, I have lived with three women in my house, and I know that that is not a pleasant circumstance—not that they were only taking a bath once a week, but if they were only able to take a bath once a week. And in that context, for the bath there was always a long queue, there was a lot of grumbling, a lot of complaining, and a lot of moaning, and a lot of jockeying for position.
One of the girls who had the most direct access to the bathroom was a Christian. The Communist girl noticed over a period of time that this girl—although she did not know initially that she was a Christian—that this girl responded without asserting her rights, without pushing herself to the front; she responded quietly to the selfishness of others. And the Communist girl looked at this girl and said, “Here is someone who is really practicing and living what I claim to believe but what I do not do.” The observation of that life led to a conversation, led to a conversion, and led to world evangelization. It wasn’t that she had stood on the stairs and given a monologue on the issues of those who were vindictively pushing themselves to the front. She had simply responded in that way.
Well, the chapter ends with this comprehensive punchline, verse 21, doesn’t it? “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It doesn’t seem too hard to understand, does it? And it’s true to say that we need to overcome the evil that is within us. If you read the commentators, there’s great debate: Is he referring here to overcoming the evil from within—you know, the evil propensity for retaliation and so on? It’s clear that we have to overcome that, but I do not think that that is what Paul has in mind. Certainly, the context of enemies and the external threat and so on points us in the direction that the thought here is of overcoming threats which come to us by way of an enemy on the outside.
So, if we allow that enemy to establish the agenda—to engage us in such a way that we are caused to lose our temper—then we have been defeated not by that person, but we’ve actually been defeated by evil, by the Evil One. Because what we’ve endeavored to do is to squash the impact of evil done to us by the execution of a greater evil in our illicit response. So in this kind of vengeful encounter where we’re on the receiving end of these things, what is so daunting about the challenge of this is that I recognize that the moment I lose control of myself, I have been overcome by evil. I have now been brought into the context in which I have no longer got the opportunity to execute the good. Whenever I find myself trying to defeat evil by my own evil thoughts, by my own evil words, by my own evil deeds, then actually, I am the one who is overcome. Because evil cannot be overcome by a stronger force of the same kind. So if I curse, if I’m vengeful, then I have been sucked into that vortex, and I too have been overpowered.
But if, in terms of verse 14, I bless those who persecute me; if, in terms of verse 17, I do not repay evil for evil; if, in terms of verse 18, I endeavor, as far as it depends on me, to live at peace with everyone; if, in terms of verse 19, I do not take vengeance into my own hands, but I seek to leave it in the hands of God; then actually, I walk the path that Jesus took. I walk the way of the cross. For it is there that love triumphed over evil . Christ did not think of himself. Christ did not reach out to defend himself. He committed his cause “to him who judges justly.”
So the challenge is as I ended this morning, really, isn’t it? That when we go on the wrong side of this, we have lost sight of Christ, we’ve lost sight of who we are as debtors to mercy, and we’ve failed to recognize, in the words of another Getty song, that “death is dead, love has won,” and “Christ has conquered,” because we have tried to insert ourselves in the place of God. It was his kindness that led us to repentance, and so perhaps our kindness will be the doorway into conversion for some whose faces may be in our minds, whose names may be in our hearts, and to whom we’re going to have to go with the Diet Pepsi and the Doritos. Because we haven’t finished the deal. We have rejoiced in the fact that we have refrained from vengeance, but with God’s help we haven’t done the good.
That, I say, is what makes this so incredibly difficult. That’s why I say this is essential Christianity. That’s why I said this morning, I think this is perhaps the most difficult aspect of practical Christian living that we ever encounter in the whole New Testament.
I said this morning that I’ve been thinking a lot about the civil rights movement in relationship to this. Of course! Anybody would who was brought up in the ’60s as I was, and many of you were. Soon as you come to “Do not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” you’re right there, 1963, with John Biaz, and you’re singing, “We Shall Overcome.” There’s Pete Seeger and the whole gang. Now we’re seeing the pictures from Greenwich Village. Now we’re in Woodstock. Now we’re at the Isle of Wight Pop Festival. Now we’ve got it all, and there they are, all singing: “We shall overcome. One day, we’ll walk hand in hand,” and so it goes. And I thought about that. I was at the Isle of Wight Pop Festival. I understood why they sang those songs. Who liked that horrible racial oppression? Who ever could justify that from the Bible? Who ever could launch that into orthodoxy? They were right! That was all wrong!
It was a good song. But it had no dynamic. It was an imperative without an indicative. It had no moral impetus. It had no spiritual impact. And this week I said to myself, “I gotta find out where that song came from.” So I went to look. And I found out that “We Shall Overcome” actually began as “I Shall Overcome.” “I Shall Overcome” was written by a black Methodist minister called Charles A. Tindley, who lived between 1851 and 1933. He’s regarded as one of the founding fathers of African American gospel music. Charles Tindley! And I said, “I gotta find his song to see if there was a dynamic in his song”—and, of course, there was. He said, “I shall overcome one day. But with his Word a sword of mine, I shall overcome.” That’s verse 2. Verse 3: “If Jesus will my leader be, I shall overcome one day.” The peace movement took it and said, “Let’s get the Bible out of it, let’s get Jesus out of it, and we’ll just ‘overcome’ on our own.”
Well, it didn’t work. Because it can’t work. Because the problem is in the heart of every one of us. We may be “more than conquerors,” but only “through him who loved us.” Soon as we take away the power of God by his Spirit through his Word in the life of his children, then we have no impetus. We don’t have “the expulsive power of a new affection.”
I can raise all more questions that we’ll get to later on, because I have all these strange thoughts flooding through my mind now about the peace movement, which I’ll leave alone. But let me finish in this way: I’ll quote a hymn. If in doubt, end with a hymn.
And in the last week or ten days, Sue and I bumped into some people from Ireland. And we met a girl from Ireland, and she told us that she went to school in a house—she went to a tiny elementary school in Ireland—that was the house that had been owned by Cecil Frances Alexander. How impressed are you? Cecil Frances Alexander.
I said, “Really?” I was scrambling, because I couldn’t think who Cecil Frances Alexander was. I said, “Well, did she write hymns?”
She said, “Yes.”
Then I said, “Okay, I think we know.”
Cecil Frances Alexander wrote hymns—five hundred hymns—for children. The best known for us would be
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
She wrote that to teach the doctrine of creation. She wrote,
Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
[As] a manger for his bed.
She taught that to teach the truth of the incarnation. She wrote,
There is a green hill far away,
[Outside] a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all.
She wrote that to teach the truth of the atonement.
There was no other good enough
To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate
Of heav’n, and let us in.
What an amazing legacy for this lady! And she wrote a ton of other hymns that nobody has ever heard or sung.
And one of them goes like this:
We are but little children weak,
Nor born in any high estate;
What can we do for Jesus’ sake,
Who is so high and good and great?
O day by day each Christian child
Has much to do, without, within;
A death to die for Jesus’ sake,
A [constant] war to wage with sin.
When deep within our swelling hearts
The thoughts of pride and anger rise,
When bitter words are on our tongues,
And tears of passion in our eyes;
Then we may stay the angry blow,
Then we may check the hasty word,
Give gentle answers back again,
And fight a battle for [the] Lord.
And the verse that was attached to the writing of the hymn was Romans 12:21: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
If we’re going to teach it to our children, we’re going to have to live it before our children. And all we are as adults is just grownup kids. And the same pulling of the hair, the same seizing of the toys, the same punching back, the same vengefulness that we find in embryonic form in the natural propensities of children unredeemed by grace are the same ugly things that confront us every day. And we may only triumph in the power of the resurrected Christ.
That is why Romans 12 is not a chapter of moralism; it is a chapter of grace and is a chapter that defines what a church family will look like when it is embraced by grace, when it is shaped by grace, and when it just feels like grace.
Let’s pray and ask God to work his work in our lives in relationship to these things:
Gracious God, we say together with the psalmist, “Search me … and know my heart: try me, and know my [anxious] thoughts. And see if there[’s] any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We ask for your help, both to understand and to believe, and to obey your Word. We ask for your forgiveness for the times when we have chosen to justify our disobedience in all kinds of ways that are so clearly illegitimate. And we pray that you will help us to live in the radical, supernatural dimension that is conveyed here—that you will, in essence, conform us to the image of your Son.
We thank you that this is the reason that you have reached in in salvation—that you have done so in order that we might say no to all ungodliness and that we might say yes to righteousness. We thank you for the breadth and the depth and the height of your redeeming love. If we could just put it in a song, we would sing it; we would want to sing the song of salvation.
Hear our prayers, O God, as we come to you in Christ’s name. Amen.
 Acts 4:19 (paraphrased).
 Acts 23:1–2 (NIV 1984).
 Acts 23:2–3 (NIV 1984).
 Matthew 5:39 (paraphrased).
 John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians, Calvin’s Commentaries, eds. David F. Torrance and Thomas F. Torrance, trans. Ross Mackenzie (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 279. Paraphrased.
 Romans 2:4 (paraphrased).
 Luke 15:18–19 (paraphrased).
 Luke 15:2 (paraphrased).
 Luke 10:29 (NIV 1984).
 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV 1984).
 See Augustus M. Toplady, “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” (1771).
 Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, “See What a Morning” (2003).
 Charles Albert Tindley, “I’ll Overcome Some Day” (1900). Lyrics lightly altered.
 Romans 8:37 (NIV 1984).
 Thomas Chalmers, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” (1855).
 Cecil Frances Alexander, “All Things Bright and Beautiful” (1848).
 Cecil Frances Alexander, “Once in Royal David’s City” (1848).
 Cecil Frances Alexander, “There Is a Green Hill Far Away” (1848).
 Alexander, “There Is a Green Hill.”
 Cecil Frances Alexander, “We Are but Little Children Weak” (1850).
 Romans 12:21 (KJV).
 Psalm 139:23–24 (KJV).
Copyright © 2019, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.