Thursday

19 April 2018

Romans 6:1-14 (A new way of living)

“Walk in newness of life” (v. 4)

Psalm: Psalm 42


Background

In the letter to the Romans Paul now turns to the significance of Baptism in the Christian’s journey. Baptism is the sign that someone has decided to choose God’s way of life rather than sin and death. If anybody has chosen to invite Jesus into their lives, then this change will be both acknowledged personally and shared publicly. At the heart of Christ’s teachings are commands from the Old Testament, to love God and to love others as we love ourselves (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).

Paul in his writings, and indeed anyone seriously calling themselves a Christian ever since, believes that the greatest unleashing of love into the world is seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Christians follow Jesus because he is the embodiment of divine love in the world as we know it. Such love involves forgiveness or mercy and is often referred to as “grace”. Grace is truly amazing, as John Newton’s hymn famously expresses it (Singing the Faith 440).

Such grace is also totally divine. The Greek word for grace is ‘charis’ and means divine gift or favour. It was a word the Ancient Greeks used to describe qualities or power that could only be found in gods, and yet such qualities could be bestowed by them onto humans. When we use the word “graceful”, we perhaps capture something of that divine otherness. Now Paul conveys the same idea that God bestows grace on God’s own people, because they are loved so much and because God delights in being merciful.

So now let’s return to verse 1: “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” Paul argues that Christians cannot do so because they have already died with Christ to that old sinful self, and this has been publicly acknowledged by Baptism. Grace is not something to be tested, it is something to be cherished – and used to pass on, with love, to others. As Fred Kaan’s hymn says: “With minds alert, upheld by grace, to spread the Word in speech and deed … The work that Christ began to do, we humbly pledge ourselves to share.” (Singing the Faith 596).

Christian Baptism unlocks the divine love of Jesus and results in a new way of living.


To Ponder

  • Who needs you to be ‘gracefully’alongside them today?
  • Where in the care for our planet in all its fragility do you see examples in people’s lives of divine love or grace being demonstrated?

Bible notes author

Michael King

Michael King is a Methodist local preacher. From 2000-2011, he was leader of the Methodist Church's World Church Relationships team, and was the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference in 2012/2013.