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.

Pappa Don’t Preach!

annunciationThat headline was just a way to draw Madonna fans into reading this blog….

I’ll be preaching on OT Characters with the title of “Profiles in Courage” and then from Advent to Summer I will be in the Gospel of Matthew.   Those items will most likely show the focus of this blog this year.

I enjoy the ESV Literary Study Bible, which noted that Matthew includes two stories in the Birth Narrative.  the first of which is a very simple Birth story. We usually read Luke 2 at Christmas events bc it feels more substantial.  What I noticed is that the long debates over the virgin births slightly miss Matthew’s point, which is that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit.  This is stated twice in such a way that the birth is seen as remarkable.  The theology of Paul or the later church were not inventing theology when they debated Christology.  The “Virgin Birth” puts the emphasis on Mary – who is a willing servant.  Matthew puts the emphasis on the Holy Spirit – that is God has done this unprecedented thing.

Matthew 1:18-25 – ESV

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.   ESV

If Jesus came to Church – John 14:15-21

What do you think would happen if we told people that Jesus would come to  your church next week?

If they believed us, then we would have a lot more people in church.  Maybe the people who see cold weather and feel warm in bed would come.  Maybe some curious people would come

 There was a crowd of 100s of TV reporters at the Super Bowl this week – that was just to talk to football players.  If Jesus came, we might see even more people than the Super Bowl.  We would have to give out tickets  by lottery because there would not be enough seats.

 The truth is Jesus comes to church every week.  Every time Christians get together he is with us.   Today the Holy Spirit is at your church, but he is also with all the other gatherings of Christians.  If there are 2 meeting in China at home, and 150 in Laos in the open air, and 5,000 at a mega-church in America, and 100os meeting in house churches in India – Jesus claims to be with each of those groups. 

John 14:15-21 ESV
    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, [17] even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
    [18] “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. [19] Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. [20] In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. [21] Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

 There are six things that the Holy Spirit does today, that Jesus did when he lived on the earth. 

1.  He is “another Helper”. 

2.  He is sent by God

3.  He will be with you forever

4.  He will bring the Truth

5.  He will give Life

6.  He will bring Unity 

I have been thinking about these things all week.  I wondered why it is that we do not experience these things in our lives all the time.  Why is the work of the Spirit not more powerful in our lives?

 This passage is like a sandwich.  A sandwich is usually something delicious between two pieces of bread.

 The Something Delicious is the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Do you see all that he does:  He is a helper, sent by God to be with us forever, to bring us the truth, and to give us Life and unity.

 What is the bread?  Look at verse 15 and 21.

 15“If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—

21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

 The Bread is obedience to Jesus commands.  These two verses say that we need to obey.  What has he commanded?

John 13:34
    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.