Monday

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

Romans 8:12-25 Monday 23 April 2018

Psalm: Psalm 45


Background

Arguably, Paul’s letter to the Romans is the greatest exploration of Christian theology in the New Testament, although John’s Gospel is also in the running for that prize. Chapter 8 is a glorious exposition of what it means to be alive in the Spirit (the theme for this week). We have already explored salvation by faith and being alive in Christ over the last fortnight.

Paul has set up his stall in the opening verses of the chapter. In particular, he contrasts life in the Spirit with ‘life in the flesh’, subject to and condemned by the law of sin and death. The law on its own simply cannot save because the flesh is incapable of obedience. Instead, God saves by grace, revealed and operative in Jesus Christ. God in Christ enters “the flesh” and deals with sin “in the flesh”. Those who trust in Christ now walk in the Spirit, not (just) the flesh.

The first idea we encounter is adoption, a concept central to Wesleyan theology. God’s grace is such that we are made members of the family, at the table by right, standing to inherit the family wealth. We are not hired hands, on a contract and liable to dismissal. Neither are we slaves, liable to be sold. We are God’s children, brothers and sister of Jesus Christ, unconditionally invited into the family, and loved.

Paul’s mind flits from one image to another, sometimes making him hard to follow. He needs to address present sufferings and the groaning of all creation. Look at the hymn In labour all creation grows (Singing the Faith 704), which unpacks that groaning. But hope rests in the Lord.


To Ponder

  • How do you hold onto Paul’s glorious visions in the face of suffering, injustice and the long hard slog of ordinary life?
  • Read Psalm 45. What is its very worldly imagery saying to you?
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