Friday, April 14, 2017

Romans 8:18-27 Suffering for Christ

We left off last week with a note about the suffering we are bound to endure if we indeed walk and talk as children of the living God. This paragraph builds on that, opening with one of the most encouraging declarations in Scripture. Romans 8:18 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. There will be suffering because the world hates us and we must be on guard that we do not fall into a trap set by the enemy. Peter wrote that we should live in such that our conscience is pure, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:16-17) Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves when dealing with the world (Matt 10:16). Here’s how not to follow this instruction:

When I worked for Compaq Computer, they celebrated “Gay Pride Week” every year. During one such week, a fella in one location made a poster with Leviticus 20:13 on it - If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. Some people complained that they were uncomfortable and his boss told him to take down the poster. He refused and was fired. He appealed to the EEOC and they ruled against him, saying he had contributed to a hostile work environment. Christians that I worked with were outraged at this report and asked me if I was. I told them I was sad that a brother was so dumb. Our message for the world is the gospel, not the law. We cannot bring a sinner into the kingdom by the law, but YHWH has given us the gospel for that very purpose. The Holy Spirit will convict His people of their sins and grant them repentance. If we suffer for the cause of Christ, let it be on account of us being unashamed of the gospel.

There’s another type of suffering that is common to all folks. Some people think life is hell, or some particular trial is hell. You hear people talk like that all the time. Business meetings are hell! These statements tell me those so speaking know nothing about hell. All of these things – and lots that are worse – are normal suffering that are the product of the Fall. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Romans 8:14-17 Slave to a new Kingdom

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh, you are being led by the Spirit – and this is the sign or evidence that one is a child of God. There are those who claim all people are children of God, but this is not true in the sense spoken of here. Unredeemed sinners were made in the image of God but must be born by the Spirit of God to become His children. There are some who claim a specific sign or gift must be in evidence of all of God’s children, such as speaking in gibberish tongues or having a second baptism in the Holy Spirit. But Paul says elsewhere, There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6) The universal church, the total number of redeemed saints, are THE body of Christ, each and all are indwelt by THE Holy Spirit, subject to ONE Lord in ONE faith, ONE baptism, belonging to the ONE God. This baptism that ALL children of God participate in is not the water baptism that characterizes Baptist churches. It is the same thing as the circumcision made without human hands spoken about elsewhere – the invisible yet undeniable work almighty God does on each person ransomed from hell and death by the all sufficient work of Christ Jesus. In Christ there is no Gentile, Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, or female. It’s not that we lose those characteristics when we get saved (slaves are told not to worry about being free since they are free indeed in Christ); it’s that these things which matter so much to mortal man do not make a difference in the kingdom of God.