No Longer Slaves

No Longer Slaves

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
  Romans 8:15 

Anytime, anytime while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute,
I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s earth a free woman—I would. -Elizabeth Freeman 

My mind struggles to understand slavery. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to wake up chained—metaphorically or literally—and owned by another human being. When my mind goes there, when I allow myself to try to put my feet in a slave’s shoes, I all but fall down in sorrow.

Slavery was an atrocious institution in the early days of our country, and it didn’t exist only in the South. A slave named Elizabeth Freeman actually took the new state of Massachusetts to court, seeking to be freed. She fought for her freedom. And she won! She became the first African-American slave to be set free under Massachusetts law and is credited with informally abolishing slavery in the state.

Elizabeth Freeman’s burning desire to stand on the earth for even one minute as a free woman isn’t hard to imagine. And once she tasted the sweetness of freedom, surely she would never, ever have desired to return to slavery.

And yet we sometimes do just that, in a sense. Though we are free in Christ, time and time again our hearts return to that time when we were slaves to our flesh, slaves to our fears, slaves to the law and the law’s demands on us. We fall back into old, fearful ways of thinking. In this text we see Paul reminding the church that God doesn’t want that for us. God desires our freedom—and He provides it through His Son and through our adoption as His children (8:15).

To the first-century church, this reminder of freedom from slavery would have great significance. Slavery was a daily reality in that culture, so people in that day would instantly understand the analogy of being released from slavery and not falling back into it. Like Elizabeth Freeman, they knew in their bones that there was a big difference between being a slave in someone’s household and being a free member of the family!

We may not witness slavery on a daily basis anymore, but Paul’s analogy still holds powerful truth for us. We were once slaves to our sin (Rom. 6:20), but once we’re in Christ this is no longer true. We do not have to submit or obey or entrust ourselves to those old ways. God has made us new, and as new creations we have the privilege of adoption. Now we are not only free, but children of almighty God. And not only children, but beloved children who can relate to our Father intimately.

It is no small thing that we can use the word Abba as we cry out to our Father. This Aramaic word for Father is an intimate term, even somewhat childlike—it could also be translated as “papa” or “daddy.” Significantly, it is also the name Jesus used in addressing God. It is a grace to us that we can cry out to the Lord in prayer in such intimate and personal ways. He gives us that access. Theologian Douglas Moo puts it this way: “In ‘adopting’ us, God has taken no half measures; we have been made full members of the family and partakers of all the privileges belonging to members of that family.”

Today remember this great access you have to your Abba. When you have to fight not to fall back into your old ways of thinking, cry out to your heavenly Father, who is available to you and listening. Remember that you are His, that you’ve been bought with a price. And that means you are truly free.

IfGodIsForUs_COV **This is an excerpt from my new study on Romans 8. Find more devotionals like this one in If God Is For Us! Order via Amazon and other retailers. 











Leon Morris, e Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 315; Douglas J. Moo, e Epistle to the Romans, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 502.
Moo, Epistle to the Romans, 503.
Join the “If God Is For Us” Launch Team!

Join the “If God Is For Us” Launch Team!

I am so thrilled to get study out into the world (and let’s be honest, I’m nervous too!). I am praying the Lord would use it and I’m grateful Moody Publishers is giving my friends and readers a way to get a jumpstart on the book.launch-share-1

Interested in receiving an early copy of my new study on Romans 8, If God is For Us? Join the launch team!

All you need to do is join the If God is For Us closed Facebook group:

The launch team will receive an advanced copy of the book. I’ll be doing a few Facebook live chats in the group. The Moody Publishers team will be sharing ways that you can help spread the word about the book and start your own study, etc. It should be a great time! THANK YOU for considering.

Spots are limited so join today!

Visit my book page to learn more about If God is For Us:


“If God is For Us” 50% off for Cyber Monday!

“If God is For Us” 50% off for Cyber Monday!

Moody Publishers is having a massive #CyberMonday Sale and my new study on Romans 8 is included. If God is For Us releases on January 1 but if you’d like to grab it early (click here to purchase), here’s what others have said about the study:PhotoGrid_1543234785784

If the Bible were a mountain range, it is said, Romans 8 would be its highest peak. I can say after reading this study that Trillia Newbell is a sure-footed mountain guide that will help you climb this great passage and get some of its best breathtaking views of God and our salvation in Christ. I highly recommend this volume! –Tim Keller, cofounder, Redeemer City to City

So often we encounter the message of Romans 8 in fragments, its best-known verses lifted from their context and lightly quoted to suit the need of the moment. With a careful hand, Trillia Newbell mends our fragmented reading by guiding us into the text, orienting this crucial chapter within the book of Romans as a whole, and tracing its cohesive message from start to finish. If God Is For Us is six weeks well spent for any earnest student of the Bible. –Jen Wilkin, author and Bible teacher

Trillia Newbell is a gift to the church. I can think of few people whose lives more authentically display the work of God and the fruit of His Spirit. is study on the eighth chapter of Romans will bless, encourage, and challenge you to grow further into Christ. Within these pages, Trillia serves as a faithful guide to help you better understand and apply God’s Word to your life. –Russell Moore, President, e Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Like a delicious meal, Romans 8 is packed with truths to be savored as they are slowly enjoyed. If God Is For Us helps us to slow down and ponder the riches in this beloved chapter line by line, one verse at a time. Trillia Newbell’s warmth and wisdom will guide and encourage you with truths that will refresh and revive your soul. –Melissa Kruger, director of women’s content for e Gospel Coalition and author of In All Things

Some in the church eschew discipleship and study because they “don’t have time” or “don’t know how.” Written like a letter from a good friend, If God Is For Us offers a deep and digestible look into Paul’s intimate writings in Romans 8. Trillia explores in detail the radical, existential transformation made possible through Christ. If you’ve hesitated on Romans because it seems overwhelming, If God Is For Us is an excellent doorway to understanding, living, and sharing the “exchanged life.” – K.A. Ellis, Cannada Fellow for World Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary

I’m so thankful for Trillia and this thorough study on Romans 8. Trillia does a beautiful job encouraging us to be in God’s Word without leaving us to do it alone. Her insights and personal illustrations make studying this foundational chapter of Scripture accessible and inviting. I encourage you to get a group of friends together and pick up a copy of If God Is For Us.  –Kelly Minter, Bible teacher and author of No Other Gods

Others who have commended the book:

Jeannie Cunnion, Liz Curtis Higgs, Missie Branch, Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler, cofounders of Risen Motherhood, Christina H. Edmondson, Sarah Mae

Look for much more about this study in the coming days! Until then, don’t miss out on grabbing it today!

Mercy That Brings Us Together

Mercy That Brings Us Together

(Note: For the next six weeks I’ll be posting short devotionals based on a live Bible study I’m leading on Ephesians. For more information about that study and to join us if you are in the area, take a look here:

Suggestion: read Ephesians 2

I was dead. I was dead and by God’s grace he brought me to himself. I’m not talking about a physical death, obviously. I’m talking about a spiritual death—one we will all find ourselves in at some point.

I became a Christian at 22 after a young girl shared the gospel with me. My salvation required His pursuit. I remember this when I read Ephesians 2. I was dead, but God made me alive through Jesus’ death on a cross. By a free gift, I was made alive by grace through faith (v.1-10). I could have never saved myself and I didn’t think my heart needed transformation, but He knew, did the work, and used a sinner saved by that same grace to teach me about Him. I didn’t want to have anything to do with organized religion.

But that was not God’s plan.


“But God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ—by grace we have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4).

God takes dead people and gives them resurrection life. We aren’t somewhat alive and we don’t kind of help with our salvation. We are fully dead and then made fully alive. Today, if you know the Lord, if you have a relationship with the Savior, it is also because God pursued you and saved you while you were yet a sinner (Romans 5:8).

But the good news doesn’t stop at Ephesians 2:10. Yes, the good news of how we are saved does. But there’s more good news to hear and read about in Ephesians 2:11-22.

In verse 11, Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesus that they were at one time Gentiles, called “the uncircumcision.” They were separated from Christ. They were alienated, strangers to the covenants of promise. This was significant. Jews hated the Gentiles; they were enemies. Jews were the covenant people of God. Being separated from God is enough, but the Gentiles were also separated from God’s people. Writer William Hendriksen summarizes the state of the Gentiles as “Christ-less, stateless, friendless, hopeless, and Godless.”

Our Divide

The wall of hostility for the First Century Church was, both culturally and literally, in the temple building itself. They were far off. We too were far off; we read about it in the beginning of the chapter. And if we are honest, it doesn’t take much to see the divide us modern-day human beings experience. In many ways we are alienated from one another.

Right now you can likely think of several physical “walls of hostility” built in this century that divided and still divide nations (think the Berlin Wall). But then we have those invisible walls; these walls are just as hard to break through. Our walls of hostility might include:


racial bias






It could be easy for us to despair. There have been many days when I have wondered if the American evangelical church is aware of this great divide and if she cares to do the work to mend it. The church has failed greatly in living out the reality of our unity we see in Ephesians 2:11-22.

Paul is reminding them that they who were once far-off have now been brought near by the blood of Christ. If we understand the gospel to be true and that we were indeed once far-off, then we should be eager to draw near towards one another.

One New Man

In verse 14, Paul shares more good news with us. We see that the dividing wall of hostility has been abolished. Christ has created one new man. The Christian man—some have called it one new race of people. Regardless, we are a new people brought together by the blood of Christ. Through him, we all have access to the Father.

To the first century church, this would be preposterous and miraculous. Those who were once so opposed to one another now share in the same inheritance. They are family. Could that be?

They are no longer strangers but fellow citizens. And we aren’t only citizens, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. This is radical.

This is what the Lord essentially does with all of us. He breaks down the wall of hostility!

The gospel is the race-transcending good news for all nations. It creates a new man. We are already all created uniquely by God as image bearers, and then he abolishes the hostility.

Are you living out the reality already bought by Jesus? God has reconciled us to himself and then to one another. This is our reality—the cosmic reality. But we join heaven in praying that what has already been done would be made manifest on the earth. Oh, Lord, bring heaven to earth, we cry!

Today, you and I can walk out this reality through proclaiming the gospel and pursuing one another in love.

All His Doing

All His Doing

(Note: For the next six weeks I’ll be posting short devotionals based on a live Bible study I’m leading on Ephesians. For more information about that study and to join us if you are in the area, take a look here:

My husband and I had two broken engagements before we were married. Yes, two. I was young and immature. I thought I needed to live it up a bit longer when really what I needed was Jesus. I wasn’t a Christian and neither was he. But my Thern continually pursued me. He never held my sin against me. He lavished care and sometimes, even gifts on me. But it wouldn’t be until the Lord sought me and saved me before I would marry this man I have loved now for over 15 years.

The love and the pursuit of any human being pales in comparison to the love and pursuit of God, yet Thern’s persistence and genuine desire for me reflects God’s character that we see in Paul’s praise in Ephesians 1:1-11.

At least seven times we see Paul referencing God’s pursuit of us. The opening praise sets the stage: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing…” (3-emphasis mine). It is God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. It is God who chose, predestined, and adopted us. It is God who continually gives us grace and we look forward to an inheritance–all by his own will and good purposes.

In the original Greek the first twelve verses is one long sentence, and for good reason! Paul is overwhelmed by the goodness of God to sinful people. It’s an ocean of praise and adoration. And one thing is clear: we did not pursue God—he pursued us. And we would never be able to earn, let alone think of, the spiritual blessings that the Lord bestows upon us: redemption through the blood of Christ, forgiveness of sin, adoption as sons, everlasting love, an imperishable inheritance, grace upon grace, and so much more. And God achieves this through is own Son.

One commentary noted that Jesus is mentioned fifteen times in the first fourteen verses. Jesus made the way for the blessings we receive. Paul reminds us again later in Ephesians that it is not our own doing—it is a gift of God in Christ Jesus (2:4-9). In Christ Jesus and because of Jesus we have the gift of redemption and all that comes with that amazing gift. The cosmic reality of our union with Christ is worthy of our every praise.

We might be tempted to think that we deserve God’s love and affection. We might believe that we earned it by our good works. We might even think that we were the ones who allowed him to have a relationship with us. These verses tell us a different story and I’d dare say a much better one. The God of the universe thought of us, created us, sought us, adopted us, sent His son to die for us, forgives us, and we didn’t do anything but receive it. Like Paul, we praise God for all his blessings and we thank Jesus for his sacrifice. Let’s look to him for all things—He is the giver of good and perfect gifts, namely himself.



Let’s Study Ephesians!

Let’s Study Ephesians!

I’m excited to share that I am going to be teaching a study through Ephesians…and you’re invited!

If you live in the Franklin, Brentwood, and Nashville areas, please join me on Tuesday nights starting on September 18.

Here’s the details and how to sign up:

September 18
September 25
Two weeks off
October, 16
October, 23
October, 30
November 6

Time: 7:00-8:30

Location: Redemption City Church: 415 Franklin Rd, Franklin, TN 37069


Material needed: Bible and handouts (You’ll receive handouts on the first night) 

Please make sure to sign up here: Ephesians Study Sign up

More details:

Each week you will read one chapter of Ephesians. On Tuesdays we will gather to discuss a section of that chapter, which will be laid out in the handout you will receive on the first night.

The evening will consist of 30 minutes of teaching and 30 minutes of discussion.

You will receive a pdf via email before the first day of the study.

Our study through Ephesians is FREE and open to anyone so make sure to invite a friend!

Please make sure to sign up here: Ephesians Study Sign up

*A Note to my readers: I hope to also write a devotional each week and post it here!