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Bible Studies For Life
July 26, 2020
WE ARE JOINED TOGETHER
Ephesians 1:20-23; 2:8-10,19-22
The book of Ephesians is Paul’s primary exposition of ecclesiology…the doctrine of the church. The first three chapters present the doctrinal teaching. The final three make practical application. The foundation of the book is laid in chapter 1. It consists of the sweeping plan of God for the ages (worked out “according to the good pleasure of his will”), and the revealing of that plan (“having made known unto us the mystery of his will”) to His redeemed, the church.
In the focal texts, three elements of the church are presented.
Church headship (1:20-23). The church rightfully belongs to Christ. He died to save her (Eph. 5:25 et al.) and will return to claim her (1 Thess. 4:13 ff). In the meantime, He is the head of the church (see 5:23). These verses highlight the authority Christ has establishing Him as such. The pronoun “He” refers back to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,” mentioned in verse 17. Hence, God the Father raised Christ from the dead, seated Him at His right hand (v. 20), put all things in subjection to Him, and appointed Him as head over everything, all for the church’s sake (v. 22). Verse 23, then, describes the church as His body. Just as the physical head of a person directs the physical responses of his body, so Christ, as the spiritual head, directs the spiritual life of His body, the church. This is done by means of the Holy Spirit, reflected in Paul’s poetic description as “the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.”
Church membership (2:8-10). Ephesians 2:8-9 captures the indisputable truth of salvation apart from works. Salvation is God’s work, wrought entirely by grace. Our entrance into His body—the church—is through faith. I have always said that saved people make the very best church members! My former pastor, Dr. Adrian Rogers, once said, “You can be a member of a church without being saved. But you can’t be a member of His church without being saved.” The oft forgotten part of this text, however, is the verse that follows. Works are indeed a part of the Christian life. While works do not contribute to our salvation, they certainly indicate our salvation. The purpose of a church congregation is not simply to sit, soak, and sour…but to serve! So important are these good works, that God has prepared them in advance. The idea of walking in them (v. 10) indicates not a category of activities (like a list of chores) to accomplish, but rather a lifestyle of service. So, church membership consists of saved people who are also serving people.
Church fellowship (2:19-22). In a flurry of words, the apostle Paul pulls out all the stops to welcome all genuine believers (especially gentile believers) into the faith. We are not foreigners in His kingdom, but citizens; not strangers in His household, but part of the family (v. 19). In verse 20, Paul returns to the metaphor of a building. The church is not a building; but it is like a building. The foundation was set by Old Testament prophets and built upon by New Testament apostles. And unlike the physical temple that could not contain Him (see Is. 66:1; 2 Sam. 7:5-7), the living church is a sanctuary for Him (v. 21), and a place for His Spirit to dwell (v. 22). For this reason, Paul wrote to the congregation at Corinth, “Don’t you know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). Unlike 1 Corinthians 6:19 (which refers to individual believers) this verse refers to the church, the body of Christ.
August 2, 2020
WE PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
Scholars have identified more than forty Pauline texts that deal with prayer. Some are prayers of thanksgiving (1 Thess. 1:2ff; 1 Cor. 1:4ff). Others pronounce blessings (2 Tim. 4:22; 2 Thess. 3:16). Some are quite personal (2 Tim. 1:3ff). But others, like this one written to the church at Ephesus, is just that: a prayer for the congregation as a whole. Here is Paul at his best. Regarding these verses, the 19th century Scottish expositor Alexander Maclaren said, “In no part of Paul’s letters does he rise to a higher level than in his prayers, and none of his prayers are fuller of fervor than this wonderful series of petitions.”
The position of Paul’s prayer (vv. 14-15). Paul wrote sentences at a time seemingly without catching his breath. His thoughts—that are interrupted by other thoughts—often make for long sentences with few definite breaks. So, when he says, “For this reason…” (v. 14), it’s hard to figure out what reason he is referring to! He may be referring to the encouragement he offered in verse 13; or he may be referring all the way back to verses 1-3 and the grace and revelation that had been entrusted to him by God. In any case, the picture of his submission is both vivid and intimate. Paul’s humility is displayed in his kneeling before the Father. This is Paul’s position. The Father’s majesty is described in His headship: He is the One from whom every family is named. While some debate whether this includes the lost as well as the saved (or even angels), this matters not. The focal point of verses 14-15 is the solitary, humble servant in absolute submission to the grandeur of the Father, the One who has the authority to grant his requests.
The petitions of Paul’s prayer (vv. 16-21). In the remaining verses, we see the prayer requests that Paul makes for the church at Ephesus. Notice that the prayer is for the congregation as a whole. But since churches are made up of individual people, the prayer applies to individual believers within the church as well. Notice too, that while most of our praying is done for outward physical things (like the health and wellbeing of our church members), Paul’s petitions are for inward spiritual things that would build up the body of Christ from within, before spilling out to others. Three main requests are made:
- That they be filled with power (vv. 16-17a). The first request is for power. The emphatic is clear: to be strengthened with power might be better expressed “to be built up with the bursting potential of power.” Knowledge is a great thing (as we will see below); but power activates that knowledge, putting it into motion. Again, the starting point is the inner man, through the agency of the Holy Spirit that dwells within. Verse 17 reminds us that the entire Trinity is at work within us, and that all of this is accomplished by faith. The word “grant” sounds fancy, but it is the simple Greek word for give. The Father has it; it is found in the storehouse of the “riches of His glory” (v. 16). And He is willing to give it as an act of His grace.
- That they be filled with love (vv. 17b-19). The second request involves love. There is a clear progression here. The body must be rooted (initially) and established (over time), in love. Only then can believers grasp (comprehend) the love of Christ that, ironically, surpasses all understanding. There is a spiritual principle here: understanding His love only comes by experiencing it. Paul suggests that being filled with the fullness of God is contingent upon experiencing the outpouring of love demonstrated in the redemptive work of Christ.
- That they be filled with awe (vv. 201-21). Paul ends his prayer with a rich benediction that draws all attention back to the kneeling servant and the majestic God of verse 14. He alone is able to do over-and-above, not only what we ask, but over-and-above what we can even think about asking! In these words, Paul draws the church into adoration as well. To God alone is all glory due, in the church (His family) and in Christ Jesus (His Son) for all eternity.
August 9, 2020
WE SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16
Whether referred to as a bride (Rev. 19:7-8), a building (2 Pet. 2:4-5), or a body (1 Cor. 12:27), the church has a unique relationship to Christ, and shares a unique relationship among fellow members of it. Regarding Christ, the church is to be submissive. Regarding fellow members, the church is to be cooperative. Our text this week focuses on how church members function together as a community. Paul highlights three key areas.
We move together (vv. 1-6). In this case, Paul was a prisoner for the Lord in two ways. Physically, he was in a jail cell during his first Roman imprisonment (see 3:1). Spiritually, Paul was fully under the Lordship of Christ. What the world considered shameful, Paul considered a high honor. His opening exhortation is to live out the doctrinal teaching of the preceding chapters in a practical, tangible way; that is to walk in a way worthy of their position in Christ (v. 1). Verses 2 and 3 describe how this is to be done: with humility, gentleness, patience, and love. The verses that follow then tell whythis is to be done: for the sake of unity (v. 4). While “uniformity” means that everyone looks alike, “unity” means everybody moves in the same direction. The same Spirit that gives us peace, gives us a sense of oneness in presence and in purpose. So what are those essential things that unify believers? In verses 4-6, the apostle lists seven common elements that all true Christ-followers share: one body (the true church); one Spirit (the Holy Spirit that all believers possess); one hope (eternal life in heaven); one Lord (the Lord Jesus Christ); one faith (the pure doctrine contained in His word); one baptism (all believers “immersed” into the body of Christ); one God and Father (who is sovereign over all things).
We minister together (vv. 7, 11-13). In these verses, Paul moves from the unity of the church, to the diversity within the church. By grace believers are called into the body as one. By grace as well, believers are gifted differently to preserve that oneness. And that giftedness (like the salvation mentioned in chapter 1) is appropriated by Christ alone, according to His good pleasure alone. Whereas the apostle Paul addressed the multiplicity (and subsequent abuse) of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians, here he points out their functions in broad categories. Sometimes called “offices,” these categories demonstrate the roles given to various believers in the church. But rest assured, Christ does not appoint offices in the church apart from gifting people to fill them! Apostles are those who are sent out. While the original twelve come to mind, the term could still apply generally to missionaries. Prophets are those who speak on behalf of God. Evangelists are those especially gifted to share the gospel witness among the lost. The phrase pastors and teachers might be separated into two or taken as one. Arguably, the nuance of pastoral ministry is one of shepherding the flock, while that of teacher is training the flock in God’s word. Both roles are assumed by—and expected of—today’s local pastor. The purpose of these offices is equally important. Those who are specially gifted are not to assume all the work! Rather, the purpose of those gifted is to equip the saints for the work of ministry, ultimately building up the body of Christ.
We mature together (vv. 13-16). In every case, God’s desire is that the body of Christ mature. This is done by the exercising of spiritual giftedness among the body of believers. When is that maturity reached? When we all are unified in the faith (beliefs) and knowledge (understanding) of the Son of God and can genuinely reflect all that is represented in the fullness of Christ (v. 13). And what is the result of that maturity? A body that is steadfast in the faith (v. 14), loving among the brethren (v. 14), submissive to the headship of Christ (v. 15), and functioning as a living, moving, healthy, coordinated, and growing body (v. 16).
August 16, 2020
WE ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER
Christ-followers are more than just saved; they are different. Jesus called us to be “salt” in a bland world and “light” in a dark one (Matt. 5:13-14). In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul called those in Christ “new creations.” That principle—newness—must be displayed by those who have been born anew (see John 3:3) in legitimate, tangible, and noticeable ways. A changed life provides ample assurance of salvation to those who are in Christ (John 15:4-5), and a powerful witness of salvation to those without Him (Matt. 5:15-16).
In this week’s text, Paul reviews three areas where Christ’s teaching can be summed up, “out with the old…and in with the new!”
A new walk (vv. 17-21). The contrast that Paul offers in verse 17 was introduced in verse 1. To “walk worthy of the calling you have received” demonstrates a change from the previous walk of the world (see also 2:1-2). Ironically, the ungodly walk of the world begins in the mind. Notice the progression: apart from the transformation that God’s Spirit brings (see Rom. 12:2), the mind is empty of meaningful, eternal thoughts (v. 17); understanding is darkened; devoid of the any spiritual light (v. 18), leading to an ignorance of the things of God, and a hardness to the inclinations of God (v. 18). The hardness of the lost heart leads then to a callousness toward anything related to God, and an openness to every type of immorality (promiscuity), impurity, and reckless abandon (v. 19). Hence, an unregenerate mind will always lead to ungodly behavior. The “but” of verse 20 reminds the church that things are different for followers of Christ. Believers learn a new way…a true way…because Christ embodies the truth (v. 21).
A new worldview (vv. 22-24). Not only do Christ-followers adopt a new walk, but their entire worldview changes. In class at BCF, I define worldview as “the lens through which we see, interpret, and respond to our reality.” Whereas the old self—that former way of life—is corrupted by entertaining desires that never truly fulfill (v. 22), God’s children have put on a new self (v. 24). Our corrupt desires have been cleaned up by a renewing of our minds. The word renewed here literally means “a return to youthfulness,” and the verb tense is continual, pointing to both the need for continual renewal as well as to the reality of continual renewal. What does this new self look like? A lot like Jesus! How does this new selfunderstand the the world? A lot like Jesus does! Believers have a new worldview that sees, interprets, and responds to reality like Jesus does. Why? Because we have been re-made in His likeness, one of righteousness and true holiness (v. 24).
A new word (vv. 25-32). In these verses, the particulars of this new self are clearly (if not harshly) laid out. While actions may indeed speak louder than words, words speak plenty loud! That Paul needs to mention these examples in the form of commands indicates just how harmful vicious speech in particular can be for the body of Christ. As well, it indicates just how prevalent destructive speech was (and still is!) in the church (see also James 3:1-12). Because “we are members of one another” (v. 25) we need to encourage one another. Hence, lying, anger, unwholesome (or foul) language, shouting, and slander are all specifically targeted as part of the old self, and associated with that which grieves the Holy Spirit; whereas truth, edification, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are commands aimed at modeling the new self, the one forgiven by God through Christ’s redemptive work.
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Boasting is received in the world as acceptable. We almost expect it in may circles – business, sports, etc. We almost laud those who are confident and self-assured so much so that it bleeds into every area of our lives, including our relationship with the Lord. Boasting, however, is dangerous in anyone, but none more so than in Christians. Whether Jew or Gentile all stood guilty in our sin before God. We were not just guilty, however. We were guilty and without a way in ourselves to be otherwise. For such people the wrath of God is certain (Romans 1:18). Having established this fact Paul, now, with the darkness of humanity clearly pictured Paul makes a shift in his language about the beauty of gospel.
THROUGH FAITH (Romans 3:21-24)
Paul starts this section off with the contrast of “But now” (Romans 3:21). There was a moment when all, even the Jews were without the saving hope of the gospel. They were lost and trapped in their own sin and its eternal implications. But now, in Christ, the righteousness that God demands has broken through and is now accessible; not through works, but through faith (Romans 3:22). Having faith means that our eyes must turn away from our achievement, effort, work and activities as the basis for our being one with the Lord. Instead we must focus on the need to place our faith in Christ. Jews have no greater advantage than the Gentiles in this way even with their history of faith. “For there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift…” (Romans 3:22b-24). While we must live holy lives that reflect the glory of God we must never be led to the false belief that our actions establish our relationship with the Lord. Faith, alone does this. Our actions simply prove our faith (see James 2:14ff). As in the Latin orthodox phrase sola fide (faith alone) we have our sins washed away and our eternal destiny shifted from damnation to glorification only when we shift our faith away from self and, singularly, toward Christ.
IN JESUS (Romans 3:25-26)
The anger and wrath of God is a serious reality for those who do not believe in Christ. One might also call this a serious matter to God! The major question Paul is answering in these verses is this: How can God be righteous and at the same time reconcile sinners to Himself? In other words if man is actually in the sinful condition we have read about (Romans 1-3:18) and God is righteous, how can a sinner ever be one with the holy Lord? The answer: Christ Jesus. While the language Paul uses here is rich and beyond the scope of our space let us sum it up in this way. Christ has come to demonstrate what the sacrifices only symbolized in an incomplete manner. Because they were incomplete, in that they did not remove sin, God’s acceptance of them was an expression of divine restraint. Thus Paul says “in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed” (Romans 3:25b). Now, God has “presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time” (Romans 3:25a). In this way, with Christ being the Perfect sacrifice as the God-man, God remains righteous when reconciling sinful men, because their faith in Christ has removed their guilt.
FOR ALL PEOPLE (Romans 3:27-31)
The power of the work of Christ is that it completed the mission of God to have a people who would be from every nation on the globe (See Genesis 12:1). In this way no one, not even Jews, could boast about their relationship with the Lord. Boasting was only to be done in the faith the Lord provided (Romans 3:27-28). This language of Paul would certainly cut to the heart of Jews who saw Gentiles as dogs and second class people. Yet Paul pushes even deeper the implications of the gospel. He says that God is the God of all people and there is a path for the circumcised “by faith” and for the uncircumcised “through faith” (Romans 3:30) in Christ alone. This is a driving text for the priority of missions. God is the God of everyone and therefore, everyonemust hear the gospel!
INCLUDING ABRAHAM (Romans 4:1-3)
This is a shocking truth for Jews to hear. Abraham, the father of the faith, is now counted as one with Gentile believers in that he is said to be justified, not by circumcision, but by faith! Not even the giant Abraham could boast. When he responded to the call of God in Genesis 12:1ff he did so by faith. Circumcision would not happen until later, but Paul says that Abraham became the patriarch of it all, by faith! Now, with this established, it is clear that nothing that has ever been of value has been such because of action. It has all been because of faith.
How powerful a word this is for a busy people who measure our value in achievements? This may be the way of the world, but it is not the way of the Lord. The only achievement that matters to the Lord is that which was accomplished on Golgotha. May we rest, by faith, in that.
One lyrical theologian rapped the following lyrics: “It feels so good to be justified…” (Shai Linne). Wait a minute! Justification is something I can feel? In truth, yes. To be justified means to be made right with God and, if that truth does not produce all kinds of joy and delight in the soul I am not sure that soul is justified. We make Christianity out to be singularly about what we think, etc. Paul shows us in this session that justification produces affections consistent with it. When we truly know what justification we, ourselves, will say: “It feels so good to be justified.…”
JUSTIFIED WITH BENEFITS (Romans 5:1-5)
As I look at this section we can identify these benefits in two categories: relational and character. Relationally, we have and should rejoice in the peace, access and hope of glory we have in Christ (Romans 5:1-2). Peacerefers to the absence of eternal conflict between God and those who have faith. Access speaks to the removal of barriers that once prevented us from nearness to the Lord. Hope of glory pertains to this newfound eternal joy that is now, but not yet fully yet. Now, to understand Paul at times we need to read him backwards. In this light Paul is saying this: because we have a sure and steady hope of glory opened to us through Christ (Romans 5:2b), we now have access to Him at all times (Romans 5:2a) because anything that prevent our peace with Him was crushed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). These benefits are the foundation for our character benefits: afflictions and endurance (Romans 5:3-5). Afflictions relate to those experiences we go through because of our faith and endurance is the internal resolve not to quit or give in. Again, let’s read Paul backwards: because you know that endurance is being fueled by your afflictionsrejoice and do not give up in the tough times. Rather, let the hope, access and peace you have with God in Christ be your focus and joy.
JUSTIFIED THROUGH HIS DEATH (Romans 5:6-8)
What is amazing about the gift of God to us in Christ Jesus is that He gave Christ to and for us “while we were still helpless” (Romans 5:6). Helpless refers not simply to our weakness to do anything that pleased God but also to our resolved will to only do that which offended Him. We are never so weak as when we willingly go against the will of God. That God did this at the right time (Romans 5:6) is not because there was ever a wrong time. Paul’s language speaks to the Lord’s sovereign design to rescue men when He wills; at the time that He determined to do so. To do die for the ungodly is amazing when it is contrasted against the reality that, as Paul says, “For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die” (Romans 5:7). In other words, people would rarely give their lives for another individual who is morally good and doing the right thing. So, who would give their life for those who are actively and aggressively going against them? God Himself!; and He did so without condition – “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8) and by demonstration – “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We should rejoice, not that the Bible says God loves us, but that He proved it!
JUSTIFIED EQUALS RECONCILIATION (Romans 5:9-11)
Paul begins with a shocking truth: “How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath” (Romans 5:9)? What is both shocking and compelling in this verse is that Paul is saying this: “We are saved by God from God”! How incredibly mind blowing is this thought! God the Son’s blood was shed for us so that we could be saved from God the Father’s wrath! All of this “while we were enemies” (Romans 5:10). It is the life of the Son that saves us as He lives His life through us (Galatians 2:20). If God would go through such extraordinary lengths to reconcile us to Himself, while we were in the heart of our sin, it is assured to us that He will keep us to the end. The Lord has done this for you and I. He has come to the place of our depravity and rescued us who were not seeking rescue. He came and got us and then, in peace, showed us our pit of depravity crushed under the weight of His cross. We can truly be at peace.
What sin are you struggling with now? What thought(s) or past event(s) shake you to the core at the very thought of it? Christ wants you to know that He has won and conquered death and sin…yes, even that one that seems to always shake you. Be at peace in Him.
DEAD TO SIN (Romans 6:1-7)
Sometimes the truth that our eternity is secured by faith in Jesus can lead people to think and behave as if what we do, now, does not matter. If I am saved and secured and if where sin abounds grace super abounds (Roman 5:21) doesn’t my sin bring about more grace? Paul answers this rhetorical question by saying, “Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:2). Another way to say it is “May it never be!” Paul is literally saying that it cannot be that one who is justified by faith would live ungodly. It cannot be since our souls have been united with Christ in a powerful and transformative way such that our lives must follow this newness of life (Romans 6:3-4). This union with Christ is not simply experienced with His death but with His life as well. Yes, Christ died for my sins, but by faith in Him, I – the old self – died too! When Christ rose from the grave (symbolic of death) with life, so too I, when I believed, rose with him in new life. That’s Paul’s point when he says: “For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). To die to something is to have its life taken. When, by faith, we died to sin, we were freed its life and the power of its penalty. Christians cannot (will not) live in that which they died to (Romans 6:7).
ALIVE IN CHRIST (Romans 6:8-11)
To be alive in Christ is to be dead to sin because the power of sin’s penalty, symbolized as death, no longer rules (Romans 6:9). This should not be mistaken to mean that sin no longer has the power to influence our actions and thinking. It does and it can. So being alive in Christ means that the life of God now resides within us but the choice to live by it is ours to make every moment. This is why Paul says that we should “consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). This is a powerful statement that deserves our attention. To consider means to reckon or to think a certain way as something that is really true. Paul is saying that believers have the life of God in them and yet we must always keep in the front of our minds: “I am dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” This is not motivational, pump yourself up gimmick to face the challenges of the day, ritual. It is the mindset that believers must always have in order to choose the life of God in the face of sin. What is instructive is that Paul calls us to look at Christ’s example: “because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over him” (Romans 6:9). In other words when Christ died, He died once. Death would not take Him again. So, with us, Paul is saying you cannot die to sin multiple times; you died to sin once with Christ. Now we are to live like we are dead to it. So, Christians are not called to die to sin daily. We are called to kill it (Colossians 3:5). If sin is ruling, Christ is not reigning; death is.
TOOLS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 6:12-14)
When I consistently remind myself that I am dead to sin and alive to God I set before me the distinction of right and wrong, sin and righteousness. I call my mind to live in a way that reflects and honors the life of God in me through the powerful witness of the Holy Spirit. I empower my choice for God over my choice for sin and self. That’s why Paul now commands us: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires” (Romans 6:12). Sin is always present in the heart of a believer but its presence in the life of a Christian is based on our giving it permission. We are in Christ with the power of God within us therefore we have control over what has prominence in our souls and, consequently, our actions. Pay tells us to not let sin have a control that your faith in Christ killed. To do so is to wage war against oneself and soul when we use our bodies for things that bring death (Romans 6:13). That is not what believers do. We are alive to God and as such we live our lives as weapons of righteousness. Not the righteousness that comes from the law but that which is from grace. In other words, we live righteous not in order to be saved but because, by grace, we have been saved (Romans 6:13-14).
An old hymn that used to be sung my church when I was younger had these words: “I am free, praise the Lord I’m free. No longer bound. No more chains holding me. My soul is restin. It’s just a blessin’. Praise the Lord, hallelujah I’m free.” May that be our daily anthem!
Chapter 8 of Romans is simply majestic. It is filled with wonder and glory in ways, perhaps more than any other chapter in the Bible, that capture the essence of God’s purpose. It is a tightly packed argument. It sets in context the necessity of a life lived for God to see the salvation of the Lord. It is all by grace, but grace empowers an ethic that reflects His glory. That is the heart of Romans 8.
ETERNAL FUTURE (Romans 8:12-13)
Paul has just masterfully dissected the idea of the mind set on the flesh, in comparison with the mind set on the Spirit (Romans 8:5-11). The flesh leads to condemnation and the Spirit leads to a life of peace. Therefore, Paul says “we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh” (Romans 8:12). The flesh will push and pry and try to figure its way into our lives but with this push, know that you are not obligated to give it expression. Sin shouts so loudly at times arguing its necessity in our lives, but we must hear Paul’s word: we are no longer under its obligatory power! It is not simply that we are no longer under its power that is the reason, however. It is our eternal future that should guide our living. Paul writes that “if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die” (Romans 8:12). Spiritual death and eternal separation from the Lord is the end of those who simply cannot live without satisfying the passions of the flesh. He adds, “But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:12). Standing in the balance of our lifestyle is the truth of who we are and the proof of whose we are. Our eternal future demands our present holiness.
ETERNAL INHERITANCE (Romans 8:14-18)
Jonathan Edwards’ work, Religious Affections, makes the masterful point that genuine believers will show signs that prove their union with the Lord. Those that do not, prove their allegiance lay elsewhere. When Paul says the “all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons” he is saying what Edward’s said before Edward’s was born: Christians look like Christ! (Romans 8:14). We cannot expect to receive the inheritance that the Son of God will receive if we are living in opposition to the Father. Paul says the we “did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father! ” (Romans 8:15). It is intimacy with the Father that we share because of Christ (Romans 8:16) and, therefore, those who profess to be in Christ and live intimately with the flesh will not receive God’s inheritance. Living according to the flesh is often a temptation when we desire to escape suffering that comes with our confession of faith in Christ. Paul says as children of God we are “also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:17). Paul is reminding them and us, that our inheritance, however crazy and odd it may seem, is connected to our endurance in suffering. Heaven is granted to us who believe at the moment of our belief. Heaven, however, will not be entered without pain and struggle and trials. We are encouraged with these words, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Our endurance to gain the eternal inheritance comes, not by looking and focusing on the momentary and light challenges, but in contrasting them with weighty and eternity glory.
CREATION RESTORED (Romans 8:19-22)
The finality of reconciliation - that time in which all will be restored - is not simply related to humanity. Often time we think that reconciliation is about man and it is. But reconciliation is about the whole of God’s creation. Nothing the Lord created should be given over to the flames of evil or eternal hell. All parts of creation were created good but, Paul says, and as such should be seen as worthy of our efforts to bring the kingdom to bear upon it. Everything is awaiting change. But the whole “creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). Creation is waiting on the children of God to be the children of God; to bring the reality of the kingdom upon all aspects of life “that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Romans 8:21). It was Adam whose sin brought chaos to the world and it was the last Adam that brought redemption to it. Now it is the sons of this Adam whose purpose in life is to live in such a way as to bring about the consummation of all things when true, and ultimate reconciliation will take place. Creation groans for this with labor pains, ready for the birth of renewal when Savior comes.
For what do you groan or long? The answer will prove so much. Our lives always reflect and move in the direction of that for which we groan and long.
During her 30 years as Florida Baptists’ director of communications, Barbara ventured across the state — and to Cuba and Haiti — to report on Baptist witness and, amid natural disaster, Baptist compassion.
Barbara and her husband, Dick, are currently enjoying spending time with their first grandchild, Finley, along with Finley’s parents Ashford and Chantal and Barbara and Dick’s daughter, Addie.
Keila earned a B.S. in Communications from Florida International University in Miami. She writes news and stories about Florida Baptist churches, creates and posts social content to the FBC’s social media channels, and is a Baptist Press contributor.
When she’s not working, Keila enjoys bike rides and spending time with her family.
Barbara, a member at Eau Gallie First BC, Melbourne, and a graduate of Florida State University, B.S., Speech Pathology/Audiology, taught Pre-K/VPK for many years. While living and serving in Maine, she wrote articles for the NEW ENGLAND BAPTIST, and currently writes for the Brevard Baptist Association’s newsletter, THE BRIDGE. She loves serving alongside her husband Mike (Associational Mission Strategist, Brevard Baptist Association), spending time with their three grandchildren, sewing and reading.
David Moore has been writing and editing for newspapers and magazines in Florida for more than 20 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. A proud member of First Baptist Church of Ocala, David serves in the worship, deacon and NextGen ministries. He and his wife Beth have three children.
Jessica received her B.S. in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She contributes to Florida Baptist Conv, Biblical Woman, Baptist Press, The Devotional for Women, and Daily Devotional Bible for Women. Her greatest joy is serving beside her husband who is the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church.
Brandi is a writer and editor for N2 Publishing, a community magazine that honors God. She and her family attend Fishhawk Fellowship Church and are a Host Family for Safe Families for Children, Bethany Christian Services. Her background is in Healthcare Management, Policies & Procedures.