Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Chapter 8 of Romans is all about how to live a life dedicated to loving and serving God while living in a fleshly body in a world opposed to Him and facing an enemy bound and determined to thwart your efforts and God?s to change you from your image into His.
Seems like the cards are stacked against us. The good news is that we have God?s secret weapon, His own Spirit, placed inside of us like a wonderful positive virus that slowly but surely takes control of our spiritual DNA. It?s like we got a spirit transplant. In a physical transplant, when someone gets a new heart for example, the recipient?s DNA slowly replaces the DNA of the transplanted tissue. For the believer in Jesus Christ it?s like that, only in reverse. Slowly over time and experience, the DNA of God?s Spirit takes over for our pre-programmed, fleshly DNA, and we become like Him.
But the Spirit of God in our lives is so much more than that. While He is at work on the inside, He has done things for us on the outside and will continue to work on our behalf?and that?s what chapter 8 of Romans is all about.
- Setting us free & making us alive (from the law of sin and death to the law of the Spirit of life, vs 1-12)
- Welcoming us into a new family (live like a son or daughter, not a slave, enjoy a close, intimate relationship with your Abba, which the Spirit urges us to do, vs 12 ? 17)
- Transforming us (while we wait patiently, and watch God work on our behalf, vs 18 ? 30)
- ?Providing for us (advocacy, provision, intercession, protection, victory, and an unbreakable connection, vs 31 ? 39)
?Last time we saw our position as uncondemned, free from the law of sin and death, able now to focus on setting our mind and lifestyle on the law of the Spirit and life, and belonging to a loving Father to whom we cry ?Abba.? But in the day to day struggle against the flesh, sometimes we lose sight of the end goal and despair that God can?t really make us perfect, can He? Aren?t we just too damaged to repair? The good news is that there are five truths we will uncover in this portion of Romans?truths that show us God is at work for us and in us for now, and for the future.
In the 12 verses in the middle of this chapter, Paul brings us some hope that not only can God do it, He is doing it. We come out of a verse where Paul says we will suffer if we belong to Jesus. But the good news is that the suffering we endure here has eternal ramifications.
18 ? You aren?t going to stay the way you are
There is a wonderful section in 1 Peter that this section in Romans reminds me of:
1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!? According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God\'s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith?more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by? fire?may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him.? Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Every time you find yourself trusting God with a little bit more of your life, the more gold he is creating in your soul. You can?t really see it, though you might sense the changes, but one day you are going to burst forth with such incredible glory that?ll even surprise you! And not just in us.
19 ? 25 You aren?t the only one hoping for something better
We are part of something awesome that God is doing?His big story: creation, fall, redemption, restoration. We are in the redemption chapter right now, but the restoration chapter is right around the corner, a preview happening in our hearts but ready to come out all around us, not just us, but in the creation. God will renovate the entire creation to be something that once again brings beauty fully.
Right now the second law of thermodynamics rules?things tend to go from order to disorder, from wholeness to decay. That?s a symptom of the fall. God told Adam that the ground which had once produced only good things to eat and see, would produce weeds, good for nothing except choking out the good stuff and reproducing.? God subjected the creation to this law knowing that it was not the end of the story.
Can you feel it in your heart as well? We groan while subjected to the same decay in the world system around us and in our flesh. We want to break free of it but are held in bondage to its proximity until that day when His glory is fully revealed in us. Right now the Spirit in us that groans for God?s glory, but also groans in another way to help us get through right now.
26 ? 27 You aren?t the only one praying
Luke 22:31-33 \"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.\"
The Holy Spirit is called Paraklete, which means ?one called alongside to help.? The Spirit helps us have an intimate relationship with our Abba Father, and he helps us when we don?t know what or how to pray. You have someone in you who always knows the will of God for you and is willing to pray for you to God towards that end.
That doesn?t mean we stop praying. God wants us to be part of the process of transformation. It isn?t ?Invasion of the Body Snatchers? where we wake up and are changed despite us. We are to be a willing part of that effort, including prayer. It?s because God is into relationship, not robots. But there are times when words fail, and then Spirit takes up where we leave off. You have a prayer partner.
28? You aren?t on the wrong path if you belong to Jesus
There is an important textual matter with this verse that can change its meaning. Some manuscripts make ?all things? the subject of the verse. In those renderings, mainly older versions of the Bible, the verse reads ?all things work together for good for those who love God.? More modern translations, including the ESV, make God the subject of the sentence, and so ?we know that in all things God works for good for those who love Him.?
What?s the difference, you say? Well, the former almost suggests that we live in a fatalistic universe where everything is predetermined and we are merely acting out a part that is scripted for us. And it doesn?t deal with the fact that some things that happen to us are purely evil.
The way the ESV and others render this verse is actually pretty wonderful. God is simply so good and so powerful that no matter what evil the world or the enemy throws our way, God can work good in it.
One of the main reasons we humans get ?stuck?, unable to move on in the transformation process, is our inability to accept the reality of a bad situation. We want to escape, blame, deny, bargain it away, ignore it, philosophize or religify our way out of dealing with it.
But if we simply acknowledge that God is working good in every bad situation for His children, then we can move on from avoidance to acceptance of the bad, and to seeing God at work in it. Bad things happen to good people. But God?s goodness is more powerful than evil?s badness in every situation.
For the person who has an active ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no wrong path. There are paths that will stunt your growth and make the journey harder, but God?s goodness is even more powerful than your disobedience. If you put bad gas into truck, it?ll still run, only you?ll lack power and have a really bumpy ride. The more you cooperate with the Spirit, the better decisions you?ll make, and the better the gas in your spiritual engine!
29 ? 30 You aren?t the only one working (in fact, you aren?t the one really working)
This section here could be several teachings all by themselves. The big question here is this: are our actions predetermined or not? Some would argue that God simply or even arbitrarily chose some to go to heaven and some to go to hell. Not only do I disagree scripturally with that, but it doesn?t follow the character of God revealed in Scripture.
1 Timothy 2:3-5 God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Matt 11:27-29 ?no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.? 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
From this and other scriptures we see that God doesn?t pick and choose among humans. A relationship is available to all, but not all will receive it.
John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
God knew before it all began what the end would be like. He?s that powerful. He ?foreknew? those that would answer His call, and those that would reject it. Like buying a plane ticket to Hawaii then, He ?predestined? us ? or ?predestinationed? us. We know we?re going to Hawaii, even if we haven?t boarded the plane yet because we have a ticket.
We are in the process of being ?conformed? or ?transformed? into a new race of humans, the Jesus race. The three steps in that process are ?called?, ?justified?, and ?glorified.? Jesus calls us to come into relationship with Him. We answer, and we are cleansed and made ?just as if I?d? never sinned by reliance on Jesus (Rom 5:1). Then comes the glorification part?which is the transformation from our old useless character into His character, into a Jesus person.
You aren?t going to stay the way you are
You aren?t the only one hoping for something better
You aren?t the only one praying
You aren?t on the wrong path if you belong to Jesus
You aren?t the only one working (in fact, you aren?t the one really working)
Wait with patience for God to transform you into something wonderful, knowing that while we are still here we have Someone who is working inside us, praying for us, and orchestrating events around us so that nothing bad is really bad because God is really really good.