Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Victory in Jesus

READ: Romans 8
KEY VERSE(S): Romans 8:38-39
An old hymn goes:
"I heard an old, old story
How a savior came from Glory
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning
Of His precious blood's atoning
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory
O victory in Jesus
My Savior forever
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood
He loved me 'ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory
Beneath the cleansing flood"

Romans is often called the fifth Gospel, because it (like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) tells the story of Jesus' sacrifice and the way of salvation. There is very little unique information in Romans, but Paul consolidates some of the most important truths of the Bible in fantastic logical and rhetorical style. As we hit the halfway point in our study of Romans, we will do well to recall that Gospel means "good news" and despite all of the bad news about our own sinful state Paul gives us, this is fundamentally a story of redemption and reconciliation to an holy God. Hopefully we will all know much after this study of Romans, but none of it is more important than Christ and Him crucified. With that being said and the hymn being quoted, this is a lengthier study than most, but I ask that you bear with me in my abuse of your time.

The Bible tells us in verse 1 that we are free from condemnation because of Christ. The Law could not set us free, because our flesh was too weak to keep us; in Jesus we have a better way made for us. When Paul says that the fate of the "carnally minded is death," he simply means the unsaved. When we are saved, a new mind is made in us - a mind not after the flesh but after the Holy Spirit, as we studied yesterday. Verse 8 says very plainly that no number of good works will please God if we have not found his salvation.
We are not still bound to counting good works, but will be shown mercy because we are children of God. We can cry out "Father!" in any language and God himself will hear. That great promise of secure salvation means that the worst tribulations we experience will be negligible in Heaven, like subtracting the weight of an electron from a beautiful mansion (v 18).

When man sinned in the garden, God placed a curse on all of creation. It was a curse of death and a curse of decay. But the Bible tells us that this curse was so that, by a small shadow of the true consequence of sin, we might fear it. Our spirits, indeed all creation, groan with anticipation for the day when the Lord will separate the tares from the wheat and replace the chaff with perfection. In fact, Paul goes on to tell us that the Holy Spirit of God comes into us and allows us to pray in ways too deep for words. The Holy Spirit, God, intercedes for us, even in our own prayer.
But it gets even better. God carefully manipulates every circumstance to our benefit, promising the saved that all circumstances will be our ultimate good (recall Romans 5:3-5).

Verses 29 and 30 have led many astray with the false doctrine of predestination, but I ask you let that simmer for now. After the study on Romans, I will give a separate devotional on free will. This one is long already!

But verse 31 brings nothing but good cheer: If God is with us, who is against us? God Himself died for our sins, how can we doubt He would give us anything else? The rest of this chapter is a beautiful herald of our victory in Jesus. He has come from Heaven to death, the highest to the lowest, to make us a way. Once we are in His hand, nothing can remove us, not even the choices of our own lives. With the power of God made manifest in us, we completely conquer any trial that comes our way. Death was the last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), and it has been defeated for almost two millenia.

Go through life tomorrow overflowing with the joy of what God has done for you. A smile is contagious and a laugh can turn someone's day around.

(1) Can you sing "Victory in Jesus" and really understand it personally? Its not a head knowledge that brings about salvation, but a real acceptance in your heart. It only takes a choice.
(2) All creation groans to see who has really accepted God and who does lip service. Have you shared your faith lately? There's plenty of room in Heaven for company.
(3) When you face trials, do you let them get you down? If you do, you're doubting the power of God! They're all conquered for you and work together for His glory.

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