Theme Week – 1 God, 1 Messiah: Romans 5
Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 11 & 12
Psalms Reading: Psalm 82
Today we move out of the Gospel accounts into some of Paul’s reasoning in Romans 5. Paul explains / rejoices in how our relationship with Jesus benefits us, including by creating / allowing a relationship with God.
Early in the chapter Paul says some things about suffering and what can be gained from it (v. 3-5) that can remind us of the text near the end of Matthew 16 on those who gain from self-surrender. Though believers have been saved, they have not been saved from all suffering, they are saved from sin and guilt. We are servants of God, and our growth may sometimes depend upon what we experience.
Verse 5 says “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit”. It is by sharing in God’s love that we can do what God desires. God wants us to open our whole hearts to Him, but that is not the end. Then God can fill us with His own goodness and love and thus permit us to achieve a level of purity and grace which otherwise would be beyond us. But to really achieve this God needed Jesus. The separation between sinful humanity and holy God was too great for God to give the kind of gift He wished to make, until Jesus opened the way.
Those are the terms of the discussion when Paul discusses Jesus’ death in verses 6-11, and it explains why so much of the talk is about God’s credit for Jesus dying (did you notice that part when you were reading the text?). The plan came from God, and at the right time “while we were helpless” God provided the lamb for the sacrifice (Genesis 22:8).
God likes to promise things and have people look forward to them. We will not just live, we will share with Jesus in blessings. Verse 2, in a line that could remind us of John 17:22, says “we exult in hope of the glory of God.” In verse 10 Paul said the believers were no longer enemies but were reconciled to God through the death of Jesus – and “much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”. In verse 17 Paul said “death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Getting to live more isn’t just about having more life, but better life. We can’t really grasp at this point what that life will be like, but we know that God thought it worth taking thousands of years to prepare for, and that He let His only son die to bring it about. I bet it will be excellent.
Lord, you are awesome. You are so holy and so merciful that it is hard for me to figure out how you bring them into balance together but somehow you did so that your plan could work and we could live. You wanted more from us and for us, and you made a way to achieve that, and I love you. You saved our lives through your son, Jesus, even though you love him so much and the plan caused him so much pain. And you are reshaping our lives. Please reshape the ways that we treat each other as believers to let us be more of what you desire, and let us provide a stronger witness together for you and your son to the world around us. In the powerful name of your son Jesus I pray these things, Amen.
- On the whole, would you be willing for your life to be more difficult if it meant it were also more purposeful, more useful for God and the people He loves?
- Paul several times refers to a “gift”, or a “free gift” in this chapter – do you tend to think of what you expect to receive from God as a gift, or do you think of yourself as owing something?
- Verse 11 uses the language “Not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Look up the word “exult.” How frequently, or to what extent, do you think that you do “exult” in God? Is this something you think you should do more? Do you see it as a group activity?
- As a reminder, verses 2 and 3 also refer to exulting – how often have you engaged in these types of exulting?
- Romans is sometimes thought of as more “theological”. Do you read Romans very often for devotional purposes? It may be that a longer chunk will allow the flow to come across, or perhaps a smaller chunk at a time will allow a morsel of meaning to come through. Thinking about what Paul actually wrote in this chapter, do you find his passion here surprising?