Romans 8, the Holy Spirit & Election

Romans logo ENG PART 2Romans 7 in my view is more or less the idea that we are not under the law and the struggle there would be that of someone attempting to keep the law by asserting our sinful human nature (flesh).  Take a pencil and mark all the uses of “I” and you’ll see what I mean.

Romans 8 turns the page to the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Mark the uses of the word Spirit to see the difference.

Now then Romans 8:26 – 30 seems to start with the idea that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” and then discusses three points.

  • Prayer v. 26-27 – “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us…”
  • Providence v. 28 – :… all things work together for good…”
  • Predestination v. 29-30 “…those whom he foreknew he predestined…”

The connection to the Holy spirit and Prayer is clear in the text and intuitively.  Prayer generally takes the shape of appealing to the Father in the name of the Son.  the Spirit enables, and so some extend prays for us.

Providence in verse 28 is God’s care over all the parts of our lives so that for the believer they come to a good purpose.  We generally think of this is a God the Father issue – Isn’t the Father the one who decrees and orders things? So then what role does the Spirit have in this?    This is a new perspective for me on this question. I have a few thoughts

  • The Spirit enables our response to hardship to be beneficial.  hardship can just as easily lead to anger or bitterness.  However, the internal work of the Spirit can be seen to work transformation in us, so we gain perseverance, empathy, hope and other virtues.  (See Romans 5; James 1 and 2 Corinthians 1).
  • The external ordering of things seems to be the Fatherly part. The internal transformation of us seems to be the Spirit’s part.

Election and Predestination again seem to be the work of the Father, who decrees all things.  Yet can see a role of the Holy Spirit in this.  I learned the difference between “eternal security” and “Perseverance of the saints” some time ago. I had tought of them as the same. However, the first idea seems to be that God says “what is saved will be saved.”  The second has the idea that God acts in us to cause us to persevere.  His care goes with his decree.  Now some thoughts of the Holy Spirit in this.

  • The Spirit walks us through foreknowledge, when we remember that to “know” in the Bible us usually a personal thing not just intellectual.  The Spirit knows us deeply (V. 27).
  • Predestination in the text is tied to “being conformed to the likeness of his Son”. This is a transformation, and are we not accustomed to see that the process of sanctification is spiritual?
  • Predestination is also linked to  Christ “being the firstborn among many brothers.”  This is the new birth (our part of it).  John 3 has Jesus telling Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit.
  • Calling of course reminds us of the decree of the Father, but how is the call accomplished?  Does not the Spirit of God draw, convince and convict us?
  • Justification is a legal status, where the work of Christ is applied to the believer.  How is that applied?  I think of the classic theology text, “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” by John Murray.  Is it not the work of Christ to accomplish redemption. He said, “it is finished.”  Yet is it not the work of the Spirit to attach that work to us?
  • Glorification is the final transformation to perfection. Then the struggle of Romans 7 is forever gone, as are the struggles of Romans 8 (which meet with more success.)  when we are transformed.  I Corinthians 15 speaks of being raised to a Spiritual Body.

These are just rumination at this point.  The main insight ist hat we can look at these words from the standpoint of the Father and his decrees, the Son and his finished work and the Spirit who lives in us and attaches Christs work to us.

As the Church Fathers (and probably some Mothers) said, “All the works of God are undivided.”   This means that in creation and is redemption the Father, Son and Spirit work as one.

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Atonement

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I am reading “the Reconciling Wisdom of God: Reframing the Doctrine of the Atonement” by Adam J. Johnson.  He suggests that Wisdom is an orchestrating attribute that best draws together all the aspects of the Atonement: penal substitution, reconciliation, sacrifice, victory, justification, propitiation, liberation, new creation, etc.

“Here the wisdom of the atonement has a decisive role to play. Attending to the fact that Christ’s atoning work was a work of wisdom brings powerfully to mind the way in which God, through one simple means, brings about a massive range of purposes. The means in questions is clearly the death and resurrection of the incarnate Son of God by the will of the Father and in the power of the Spirit, and the abundant range of purposes we have already seen in the previous chapter…”  p. 97

That got me thinking…

If Justice is the governing theory, why didn’t God simply judge? In love he sent his Son.

If Love is the governing theory, why didn’t God just accept us in an act of kindness?  To satisfy justice he sent his son.

If Honor is God’s reason, why did Christ accept humiliation for us?

If God’s Glory was rejected, why did he bother to send his Son? The heavens declare the Glory of God.

If Christ came to win a Victory over death, why did he die?  Sin brings death, but Christ brought the resurrection.

If Alienation is the problem, why didn’t God invite us to return, with no questions asked?  He sent his son as a Shepherd to seek and save the lost.

If Error is the problem, why didn’t God stop at giving revelation of the truth?  He sent his Son to be a teacher and a sacrifice and the Spirit to bring his word to us.

If Corruption of our nature is the central problem, why prevents God from purifying us?

If Enslavement to sin is the problem, why can’t he just set us free.  Redemption takes a price.

I am not sure Johnson gets it right to say that in his Wisdom God found the best, most complete way to work out salvation.  But He is right that the Atonement is not one simple thing – all the attributes of God are in play.  The Trinity is united in the multi-faceted work of Atonement.

United with…

lombardi 3

From a sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14:

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

We are born into the world in union with the human race. We are born in union with the creation. We are born in union with Adam. What that means is that we are born into “original sin.”  The sin that is in the world can be seen in two ways. First of all, the guilt and corruption of sin is attached to all people since Adam and Eve rebelled.  The Bible calls this our union with Adam.

Romans 5:17 – For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 

Let me give you an example.  Suppose you played for a team that won the championship.  Let’s say this is the year Green Bay wins the Super Bowl.  You, however, while on the team, did not play.  You were the 2nd backup quarterback.  Aaron Rogers stays healthy, and they put in the 1st back up once or twice, but all you ever did was practice.  Yet even though you did not play, because you are a member of the team, you get a Super Bowl ring.  There is power in being united to a team.

We are born onto a losing team – Adam’s team. When we are in union with him, all the wages of sin are due for us.  But here is the blessing God chooses to unite us to Christ. So because we are one of His, we gain all the benefits of salvation. Our 3rd string quarterback  did not play a single snap to win his ring.  We did not do anything to earn  salvation.

Faith is more than Brain Activity

walking

I’m starting to read Romans in anticipation of a sermon series in 2019.

Here are some interesting verses on faith:

1:5 – “…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…”

  • Paul’s is seeking OBEDIENCE that is from faith.  The ultimate purpose is not faith without obedience, but faith expressed or lived out in obedience.

16:26 – “…according to the command of God, to bring about the obedience of faith…”

  • the 5th verse and the next to last verse form an “inclusio” on the obedience of faith.

4:12 – “…who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had…”

  • He does not say “think” or “feel” or “think” but “walk” which is a metaphor throughout scripture for a person’s way of living.  See Psalm 1; Proverbs 3:5,6; Deut. 8:1ff.

6:1-14 – Baptism, Death and Resurrection, Presenting your members to God….all ideas speaking of new life of obedience of faith.

This is Romans, the greatest source of understanding salvation by Faith alone (1:16; 3:23-25; 3:28; 4:1-8; 4:22-25; 5:1; 8:1; 10:5-13).  Yet the idea of obedience, walking a godly path, living a resurrected life, permeates this book from start to finish.

The Reformers spoke of faith as knowledge, then agreement and then trust.  We are on thin ice if we think of faith as only knowledge, only something that happens in the mind.

By Invitation

giftI was comparing Colossians 3:12-14 to attending a wedding.  the first half verse is about our identity.

  • as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved..   v. 12a

Weddings are by invitation.  You don’t show up uninvited.  Your admission is not up to you.  This is a way to think about being “chosen”.

We could get into a long discussion of election and predestination.  If I thought that I could work out that issue in a couple of minutes, I would. But as Christians have debated that issue for 2000 years, I will move over to the importance of it.

When you go to a wedding, it is because you are invited.  Someone chose you to come.  It would be very strange to walk into a wedding uninvited. Maybe you just love weddings.  Would you attend and stay for the reception?  No.

You belong to the wedding because the Bride and Groom invited you.

The same is true for you as a Christian.  You did not crash the gates.  You did not come and say, “Hey, this looks like fun! Let me in!”  The Lord made a way for you to come in Jesus.  He paid for your invitation. The Lord not only invited, but he persuaded you.  He persuaded you through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of others, through the truth of the Gospel.

Don’t think that you are better than others. You are in the family of God because the Lord chose you to come.

You were invited and then you were able to attend.  As to choice…well that takes us back to Augustine and Calvin.

a 5 star vacation

big8This is the sort of resort

That provides a view

And an escape

Where your needs

are met by the staff

A star for the location

A star for peace

A star for the food

A star for the staff

A star because it does it all

You are safe from the residents

And crime

And unsightly poverty

That could ruin your time.

How this resort elevates this place!

here is the church

This is the sort of church

That gives you a view

And an escape

Where you needs

Are met by the staff

A star for the campus

A star for the speaker

A star for the music

A star for the programs

A star to make a difference.

You are safe from the world

And its strife

And those who have fallen

Into poverty, addiction and despair.

How this church elevates this place?

 

Calm in the Canoe – a parable

canoeFrom the shore we can see the man in the canoe.  He is not paying attention to the danger he is in, because his eyes are closed.  What he does not see, we can see clearly.  Just down river is a quick succession of rapids through large boulders and then a 30 foot waterfall.  We call out, but he is not connected to the world.

I am in my canoe.  It is taking me on a journey.  I do not strive or turn, but am satisfied to follow the path of water and current.   I have closed my eyes and taken the position.  I have been breathing slowly, allowing myself to be completely in this time and place.  The flow of the river, the lapping of the waves, the gentle breeze on my face all are sensed, not as separate sounds, but part of one sound.

We start to shout, but he is not listening.

I heard chattering monkeys just then, but now they have receded.

We call out: Danger is ahead!  Turn to Shore!  Your life is in danger.

Quietly I flow, the water flows, the canoe flows, all time flows, we flow as one.
He must have fallen asleep.  We try tossing a stone against the boat, but it is hard to reach.  The first and second try miss, but on the third we hear the “clunk” of success. He stirs, but then returns to his sleep.

Nature and I are one. The river and I are one.  Time and I are one.  Words have no meaning.  All is at peace.

Just now we see the boat enter the rapids…he awakes at the third stone he hits, but not in time.  He starts to paddle, but will he get to shore in time?

What is that, the flow is interrupted. I open my eyes and the peaceful waters are shouting. The mirror water is mist.  There is a roaring just ahead.  Rapids!  Waterfall!

I grasp my paddle and pull deeply in the water, but the roaring grows louder.

Just as he goes over the edge, he reaches upward and cries out. Then he is gone.

It’s too late.  I’ve come to the edge.  Someone help me!

 

David Carlson

9/26/17