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romans 8:12-39

10 February, 2007

Offline, we’re on Chapter 16 this week. Online we’re only on Chapter 7. So here is the first post in the quick-Nick summary of chapters 8-15. I’ll do my best to remember and express our offline discussion, but feel free to jump in with a comment if I forget anything important. If you want to, you can take a few minutes to review what we’ve said about the first 7 chapters before reading on.Romans 8:12-39 is one of the most inspiring passages in all of the New Testament. It is oft quoted, much loved, and there really is nothing I can say about it that will compare with reading it for yourself. What I can do is remind you of its place within the rest of Romans, and share some of our thoughts about it.Love, babyWhat did we fixate on in our conversation? Why, the love, of course. You gotta have the love, baby! This passage, especially the last 7 verses, is amazingly cool. God loves you. No, I don’t think you get it yet. He really, really, really loves you. Not in some esoteric, happy feely, candy heart sort of way, but in a way that has value. God wants to be with you. He likes you. And though we were once broken, He makes us whole. It’s one thing to say that “God loves everybody,” in a way that just means that He’s sort of warm, fuzzy, and thinks happy thoughts towards us, but doesn’t really matter. It’s another to say it the way Paul does, so sure God ’s worth it that even when we suffer and die, His love is enough. So sure that God is doing good in the world and healing the brokenhearted that even when things aren’t right you believe that you’re on your way to God. The best news of all is that you haven’t messed it up yet. No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, God’s dream for you is still to be a part of what He’s doing in the world. God’s dreams for you haven’t changed yet. They never will, and if you’ve found Jesus, then you’re on your way towards Him.ContrastContrast this with 7:1-8:11. If Chapter 7 was Paul the Hebrew, speaking on behalf of all Israel, making it clear that Israel, even with Torah, was still under sin and death, and the contrast is a big one. Check out how Paul was a slave to sin, unable to do what was right, but now he is set free. While Chapter 7 was not a description of the Christian struggle (contrary to much popular exegesis), Chapter 8 is. Without Christ making us whole we will never be the people God dreams of. But Jesus sets us free from sin, so that we can live life in the Spirit and presence of God.ExodusIf you’ve been tracking what we’re saying about Romans for the past 7 chapters, then you know that Paul has been retelling the Exodus narrative since Chapter 5. The Exodus narrative was Israel’s story of being taken out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, given Torah (the law), and promised a land that was yet to be conquered. Through all this God manifested His Spirit as a cloud by day and a fire by night, going before them as they journeyed, to remind God’s chosen people that they would one day receive all that He had promised. Chapter 8 of Romans is the promise part of this story, and it turns out that everything Israel had been waiting for is now God’s promise to all those who believe on His Son, whether Jew or Gentile. This promise takes in not just one land, but the restoration of all the created world, and the full and final realization of God’s Kingdom. This, of course, ought to remind us of the first 4 chapters, because the promise to Abraham always included all the nations of the world. With that in mind we start seeing some really cool stuff in Chapter 8. We get God’s Spirit as a guarantee that we will receive the promise. We have been chosen by God. We are part of God’s purpose for the whole world. We have work to do in seeing God’s promise fulfilled. We have to live lives that depend on and trust in the Spirit. We are, according to Paul, chosen by God, delivered from sin, on our way to the promise, guaranteed to receive it, yet likely to have a rough time along the way. Jesus came to bring the new Exodus and the return of Yahweh to dwell with His people, and Paul is telling us that we are the new people of God if we have passed through the waters to become followers of Jesus. The King has come, and the Kingdom follows close behind.

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