19 April 2016

Romans 8:12-25

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (v. 14)

Psalm: Psalm 73:15-28


When (in verse 22) Paul describes the whole creation "groaning" with "labour pains", his style echoes that of the psalmists and prophets. The personification of creation struggling and groaning captures something of our experiences and draws attention to the similar struggle - and hope - of Christians, who live with all the tensions of the 'now' and the 'not yet'.

Paul has just set out (verses 1-11) the new life that Jesus has made possible and that believers can enter into here and now (verses 12-13); and he further describes the blessing "for all who are led by the Spirit of God" (v. 14) of adoption as God's children (verses 14-17). Believers are already forgiven and reconciled to God; they no longer have to wait and wonder about being found worthy, but led by the Spirit they are united with God and declared to be God's children. Of this we are assured, and we can be eternally confident in this new life and new relationship.

Yet, we, indeed the whole of creation, still wait for the final and full revelation, "the glory about to be revealed" (v. 18). We continue to "groan" (v. 23) and wrestle and suffer, to endure the tensions and longings of the 'now and not yet' time in which we live. The image of a creation groaning with labour pains captures the messiness and agony of a world still waiting and, sometimes, speaks to our experience; but we are no longer defeated or enslaved by the brokenness of the world and its people. Our hope is sure, and we are encouraged to endure the tensions with patience, with the help of the Spirit, and with the knowledge and assurance that we are "children of God".

To Ponder

  • What does it mean to you to be a 'child of God'? To what extent is this something you are able to have confidence in and fully accept?
  • During those times of groaning and wrestling, what helps you to recognise the guiding Spirit of God present with you?
  • In the times of waiting, what helps to remind you of the assurance that is already given?

Bible notes author

The Revd Nicola Price-Tebbutt

Nicola Price-Tebbutt is a presbyter in the Methodist Church. She has previously served in circuit in Sheffield and as a tutor at Hartley Victoria College in Manchester.