Monday 30 May 2022

Bible Book:

But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (v. 8)

Romans 5:1-11 Monday 30 May 2022

Psalm 103


This is one of the richest theological passages of the New Testament. It is part of St Paul's message to the church in Rome, thought by many to be his masterpiece. This short passage seems to touch on every major theme of Christian theology, and then quickly move on to the next. You can sense Paul’s excitement as he writes to the Roman-Christians, many of whom previously had no relationship with God whatsoever, or lived as enemies to the ways of God.

In the previous verses (Romans 4), Paul has tried to explained that Abraham was given a right relationship with God through ‘faith’ rather than ‘the law’ (obedience to the commandments and other laws of Israel). Faith is described here as trusting in God’s promises. Hence Abraham was ‘justified’ with God. He was in a right relationship with God. Paul likens that to our relationship with God ‘through Christ’ – our right relationship with God is based on trusting in all that Christ is offering and the love of God he reveals.

When Paul was writing, some were saying that new converts from outside the Jewish faith first needed to accept the whole Jewish law. Paul argued that the law is not the basis of our relationship with God; it is based rather on trusting in Christ (‘faith’) and Christ's faithfulness (he has done all that was necessary).

It is this state of being put right with God by trusting in Christ, which gives us a sense of peace with God. Those who were once outside the Covenant (ie were not Jewish) have been welcomed into this relationship through Jesus and the New Covenant, represented by Jesus' blood.  It is not achieved by our good deeds or obedience to the commandments (although these things should follow as we grow in our relationship), and even less is it to do with any religious badge or ceremony (although ceremonies such as baptism and confirmation can help us express our new relationship).

In this relationship, we might go through suffering, but suffering can lead to other things, developing our character and giving us a heightened sense of hope for what God can achieve. At the centre is the love of God for the world, which is the basis for the hope that we have. And we can see all this with a new perspective, with the help of God’s Spirit alongside us.

When we have entered into this relationship with God, we need not fear God’s anger or condemnation, because Jesus has died and risen again: and he takes us with him through death into new life. Baptism is the sign for this action – this new relationship – this inclusion in the family of God.

At the centre is the assurance that all of this is God’s doing. Verse 8 tells us that even while we were ‘sinners’ – outside the relationship altogether – it wasn't anything we did that brought God near, only God’s ever-reaching grace and love, revealed through Jesus going all the way for us.

To Ponder:

  • What does this passage mean to you, and how do you make sense of what Jesus achieved by dying for us?
  • How would you explain your faith to someone who had no previous knowledge or experience of Jesus?
  • Have you experienced times when suffering has produced endurance, character or hope? How did God help you through this?
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