Beginning this Sunday we will spend the next five weeks in “Romans,” in many ways Paul’s definitive work. Paul understands that our relationship with God, either through the Sinai covenant, or the Jesus event, begins with God’s Righteousness. Is God righteous? Is God doing something new in the Jesus event at the expense of God’s covenant with Israel? Has Israel simply misunderstood God’s purposes? Is God moving on, or is there continuity in God’s redemptive purposes? Our work will not directly address each of these questions, but will point to Paul’s understanding of God’s work in God’s world through God’s people.
Paul seems to understand that the work God has done in Jesus Christ is not a new thing, but rather, is a fulfillment of the promises made to the Patriarchs, especially to Abraham, who was reckoned righteous through faith (4.1-25). In our passage for Sunday, 5.1-8, we’ll see how that righteousness through faith is manifest in our lives. God’s grace, mediated through Jesus finds us justified and standing in that grace. But, to what end?
Modern Christianity has flattened itself back to simple Gnosticism in many quarters. Being in relationship with Jesus provides us the “knowledge,” the golden ticket into heaven, if you will. Life in Christ resembles a secret handshake, turning heaven into a speakeasy. Life becomes simply not losing our ticket rather than showing forth the glory of the gospel. In our text from the fifth chapter, Paul argues that life in Christ provides a fundamental change in those of us who strive to follow Jesus. We become the very embodiment of biblical hope. Hope does not disappoint us, and hope changes the trajectory of human history. That is our call as we live lives of faith.
I look forward to our short journey into the world of “Romans.” We also will begin our survey of the Old Testament during the Faith Enrichment hour at 9:00 a.m.
See you Sunday,