It’s good to regularly set our mind on who Jesus is, who Jesus is for us, who we are in him, and what we have in him. For those whose life and identity has been united to Jesus by faith in him, here’s the tip of the iceberg of some things we’ve received in him from Romans 1-8.
We have received grace (Rom. 1:5)
We are loved by God and called as saints (Rom. 1:7)
We have eternal life (Rom. 2:7)
We received God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:22)
We are justified and redeemed by God’s gift of grace (Rom. 3:24)
We are forgiven (Rom. 4:7)
We have peace with God (Rom. 5:1)
We have received the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5)
We are saved from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9)
We have joy in God because of reconciliation to him (Rom. 5:11)
We have grace to abound or eclipse every sin (Rom. 5:20)
We are united to Christ (Rom. 6:2)
We are dead to sin (Rom 6:2)
We have a new life and are raised to new life (Rom. 6:4; 8:11)
We are promised resurrection (Rom. 6:5)
We are alive to God (Rom. 6:11)
We are under grace, not under law (Rom. 6:14)
We have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:18)
We bear fruit that leads to sanctification (Rom. 6:22)
We died to the law so we might belong to God (Rom. 7:4)
We have the ability to obey and serve God by the Spirit (Rom. 7:6)
We have deliverance from the penalty and power of sin (Rom. 7:25)
We have been declared not guilty—no condemnation (Rom. 8:1)
We are sons and daughter of the Father (Rom. 8:14-5)
We are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17)
We are promised and awaiting eternal glory (Rom. 8:18)
We have more hope than suffering (Rom. 8:20)
We have the Spirit interceding for us (Rom. 8:27)
We receive the promise that all things will work for our good in Christ (Rom. 8:28)
We are given assurance that our salvation is secure in Christ from start to finish (Rom. 8:30)
We are loved by God with an inseparable, eternal, deep, and intimate love (Rom. 8:31-39)
Everyday Church is a great-read, both on what it looks like to live as a community feeding one another with the gospel and building “mission” into the normal day-to-day experiences in life, rather than it being an extra add-on we do. Here are a couple helpful quotes on what it means to be an intentional community.
This is a great “practical” quote from NT Wright, who’s not always known for such things. This comes from his commentary on Col. 3:5ff.
“If these vices are not, eventually, to kill the one who practices them, they must themselves be ‘put to death’. The old word ‘mortify’…has now acquired exactly the wrong sense, implying just such a regime of ascetic discipline as Paul has declared to be worse than useless (2:20-23). ‘Mortification’ like that avoids dealing directly with the sin itself. Paul’s recommended treatment is simpler and more drastic.
To put something to death you must cut off its lines of supply: it is futile and self-deceiving to bemoan one’s inability to resist the last stages of a temptation when earlier stages have gone by unnoticed, or even eagerly welcomed. This does not mean setting up a new hedge around the law, such as branding all theatrical performances (or whatever) as inherently ‘sinful’. Rather, every Christian has the responsibility, before God, to investigate the lifelines of whatever sins are defeating him personally, and to cut them off without pity. Better that than have them eventually destroy him.”
Put to death the old self by cutting off the lines of supply that pump the flesh into our being, and to put on the new man but opening such lines of supply so that the life-giving Christ might reach every part of us.
Over the last few years there’s been a few TV shows sparking people’s interest in America’s history. The new show Turn is a fictional story of spies in George Washington’s army. The mini-series from last year Sons of Liberty built on the success of HBO’s John Adams. Maybe these shows demonstrate a growing interest among Americans to realize we do have a history, and that it’s both more exciting and more significant than we imagined. With religious liberty being a regular subject in our news and media it’s nice to read the people who started our country and realize they actually did wrestle through many of these questions, our founding documents were thought out, and their words were picked with good reason. As someone who loves history in general, I’m excited to see the uptick in our interest in history, even if television is what stirs it.
Like any good narrative, the Bible uses literary devices such as metaphors, double-meanings, paradoxes, and irony. The New Testament authors often used irony to draw out the difference between how mankind sees things from their perspective and how God sees things from His perspective. Irony also helps create a sharp contrast between expectations and realities as well as between intent and effect. A third way authors employ irony is to highlight something the readers know that the characters in the story would have been unaware of.
In Colossians 2:13-15 Paul provides at least four ironies tied to the cross of Jesus Christ. We see stark contrasts between the purpose of man and the purpose of God, Satan’s plan for destruction and God’s plan for redemption. The cross reminds us things are often not what they seem in this life. Circumstances and the point of view of fallen man is not a reliable source for interpreting life because God is working in ways we cannot see. God’s economy is different than our own. It is in the darkest moments that the greatest light shines. It is in act of death that life is granted. We will briefly look at four ironies of Jesus’ cross from Colossians 2:13-15 in order to understand what was really taking place.
In our kitchen we have this framed chalk art in the image to the left. “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Psalm 104:14-15). It’s a reminder that food and drink are both God’s provision to care for us but also an evidence of his goodness in giving us food to add to our happiness. God wants us to enjoy our food, our drinks, and our feasts!
The Bible describes feasting in very positive terms—although there are obviously times where it’s corrupted or misused like all of creation. It seems God created us to thoroughly enjoy food as a gift but also to prepare our hearts and minds for something even more satisfying.
I found this quote by Calvin helpful as our church studies Romans 9 together. Calvin’s emphasis on union with Christ throughout his writings again pays dividends as he reminds us to look to Christ to know that you are loved by God…and will be so forever. If we have been united to Christ by faith then we have no need to look into the past and be puzzled if God chose us. Christ is our assurance so we look at him.
But if we have been chosen in [Christ], we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves; and not even God the Father, if we conceive of him as severed from his Son. Christ, then, is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election. For since it is into his body the Father has destined those to be engrafted whom he has will from eternity to be his own…we have sufficiently clear and firm testimony that we have been inscribed in the book of life if we are in communion with Christ. (Calvin, Institutes, 3.24.5)