In Romans 1 and 2 Paul concludes that God’s wrath is against all of sinful humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike. Romans 3 and 4 Paul concludes that God’s grace benefits all humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike. Romans 5 unifies us under peace and righteousness with God through work and life of Jesus. Romans 6 because we are unified under peace and righteousness, we are also unified in Christ’s death and life. Romans 7 gives Christians a unified basis for our relationship with God. And Romans 8 continues Paul’s motivation to see a Jew and Gentile church united under the banner of faith in Christ.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8
In spite of the evil desires that still tear us away from the desire to love and seek God, we are all considered righteous because of Jesus. In spite of our wretchedness, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What does this mean for you?
Take a look at the Brethren of the Feast logo. You will notice the cross at the middle. The knife and the fork represent the spiritual nourishment we receive from Jesus’ sacrificial life and death. The circle looks like a plate, which is fun, but there is a deeper meaning. The circle represents us. Christians. So lets ask the question. What is a Christian?
Is a Christian someone that has less than 3 drinks a month, less than 10 slanderous thoughts, someone that uses foul language at work and someone that makes it to a Sunday morning service 3 out of 4 weeks? Is a Christian someone that knows exactly where to strike the line between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will? Is it someone that never drinks and never eats sugar?
Like our logo. We believe that a Christian is someone that has put Christ at the center of his or her life. That is why the circle represents us. Is this messy? Yes. People around that circle will have all kinds of beliefs, perspectives, values and baggage. The only true consistency is the movement toward the center. Whether Jew or Gentile, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8
The Spirit of God is always moving us closer to Christ. That is, closer to the center. And if you are being led, you are a child of God. You have brothers and sisters in various denominations, countries, social classes, economic classes, races and nationalities (as we will learn when we study Jonah).
This messiness makes us nervous, especially church leaders. If we are Christians because we are moving toward Jesus by the work of the Spirit, then we may identify ourselves, by what kind of music or what english translation of the scriptures we use. It is fine to have preferences. I’m sure Jesus had preferences towards certain Psalms and worship styles. But is life was defined by giving up some his preferences because of his compassion for us.
When we become less concerned with our own preferences and more concerned with compassion for others, then we will finally be moving closer to Jesus.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8
This movement toward the center is not easy, but it is worth it. Because as a Christian we become heirs. The movement toward the Jesus will take self-sacrifice, but all of our crosses will be barren when we are lifted in with Jesus in Glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8
I had difficulty understanding this verse, but during my recent open heart surgery it became my mantra. To compare suffering with glory is hard to grasp. But he is comparing the level of both. If I suffered for the rest of my life, for every minute with burning sensations in all of my limbs, it would seem like a pin prick in view of the glory of a Christ-filled eternity.
And that was my focus, everyday. No matter what happens. When I’m with Christ in glory, I will think back and try to remember all the pain I went through, in the same way I try to remember First Grade. You know it happened, but its vague, shrouded in loss and forgetfulness.
The beauty of this verse is that Paul never trivializes pain. For those in it, it would be a stabbing wound to great to overcome. Paul never trivializes pain, he only magnifies the future glory in Christ. This was crucial to me. Suffering is horrible. Glory is awesome.
How do you deal with people in pain? Never trivialize the pain, but magnify the glory.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8
By viewing this portion of scripture in light of Paul’s desire to unify the diverse Church in Rome, we see that he has a vision of God working for the good of the church even with the upcoming persecution at the hands of the Romans rulers. That God has a plan for everyone that ends in magnificent glory.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8
For nothing can separate us from God. AMEN.
How have you defined Christian in your past? How have you validated your faith?
Some people believe a Christian is someone that does this or doesn’t do this, how does this view impact your view of others? of yourself?
Is this definition of Christian comforting or uncomfortable? Why?
Paul’s outpouring at the end of chapter 8 is an overflow of the way God has worked for all of us.
With all the denominations, the definition of a Christian can get muddy. But my hope is this will restore the attitude that Jesus exemplified. If a Christian has nothing to do with church status or legal status, but has to do with Jesus, then focus our lives on Jesus and in humility and trust walk under the caring wing of God. We can oppose the proud and give grace to the humble.
Also, that we can have strength in situations that cause others to crumble. Magnify glory. All the time. It is the greatest gift you ever get to share with others.