Wednesday 13 April 2016

Bible Book:

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 1)

Romans 5:1-11 Wednesday 13 April 2016

Psalm: Psalm 71:1-14


Unless he was gifted with the most remarkable foresight, Pauldid not write his Epistle to Rome with the intention that twomillennia later people would read it in the privacy of their homes(or even on mobile devices on their way to work). He would haveanticipated that the letter would have been read aloud to theassembly. The reader would have taken the congregation through thecareful logical argument of the first four chapters; Paul nowsummarises the point that he has reached and asks what it means forthe Christian.

And what it means is that the Christian has a great deal tocelebrate (or literally to boast about - verse 3). What God hasdone in Christ has set us in a new position in which we can lookforward to sharing God's glory. That is the first cause forboasting.

The second cause for boasting might have surprised thelisteners. Paul talks about suffering as something to becelebrated. It is not clear what Paul means by sufferings - is itthe persecution that the early Christians would have known or amore general experience of pain and affliction? To those who are inpain, the idea of boasting about it will seem very odd if notoffensive. But what Paul seems to argue is that suffering canenable us to become stronger people through the patience that itengenders and that this increases our capacity to hope in God. Thisis not some counterintuitive stoicism that denies the reality ofpain; rather it is that pain is either insignificant or is apointer to something much more significant because we already havea sense of what hope in God means. That we are now in a lovingrelationship with God has been confirmed by the presence of theHoly Spirit in our lives (verse 5).

Paul reflects on the wonder of God's love in that Christ diedfor those who were living as God's enemies. This has achievedreconciliation; God took all the initiative in healing the breach.Paul also believes that what we now experience in reconciliationwill be fulfilled in our salvation: this new relationship is fornow and for the future. The final cause for boasting of thispassage is simply that God who in Jesus has done all this forus.

To Ponder

  • Paul uses the rules and methods of rhetoric in an age whenspeeches and public readings could last for hours to make hispoints in a memorable fashion. Try to summarise what God has donein Jesus in a tweet (no more than 140 characters).
  • Paul encourages the Christians in Rome to boast about theirexperience of God. How would you 'boast' about being aChristian?
  • The difficult part of this passage is the section in which Paultalks about 'boasting about suffering'; we note that he says "oursufferings" not 'your sufferings' (v. 3). Is it ever acceptable tosuggest that suffering is a cause for joy? Why, or why not?
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