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Both ONLINE and In-person.
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Theme: Romans 8.1 Foundations
Series: Romans 8 (2020)
Bible Reading: Romans 8:1-11
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Hybrid Worship, both ONLINE and in-person at the church
– 9am, Sunday 12 July, 2020
Watch the Live Stream at https://www.facebook.com/turramurrauniting/live
Offering Link – https://www.turramurrauniting.org.au/offering/
Over the next three weeks we are going to dive into one of the most profound chapters of the Bible – Romans chapter 8. One theologian described Romans chapter 8 as the “most dense” chapter in the Bible – that there is more profound wisdom and insight per verse than any other part of the Bible. And over the next three weeks we are going to explore this wisdom.
Today’s bible reading is the first part of Romans 8 … verses 1 to 11. But as we prepare to hear these words I want you to ponder two things and write your insights in the comment section.
1) If you are familiar with the book of Romans … what is a word that you would you to describe it or summarise it. Just one word (or two if you need to) – write it in the comment section. Maybe you can type “ROMANS = _________”
2) As Nigel reads the first 11 verses … what is a word or phrase or concept that jumps out at you. No explanation … just write it in the comments section.
Let’s hear the first part of this amazing chapter … Romans 8
Well, if we are going to spend three weeks looking at a single chapter of the bible, it might be helpful before we start to have a brief overview of the book of Romans just to put it into context.
If I was going to sum up the book of Romans in one word … maybe I should choose salvation … but I will choose the word “Foundations”. Paul was writing to the church in Rome with some foundational teaching about Jesus and the saving Grace that come through the cross because he was worried about the spiritual foundation of the church.
You see, the church in Rome was unique for unique for a number of reasons. Firstly, unlike most of the churches around the Mediterranean, it was not set up by Paul or another of the Christian missionaries. Rather it is believed that it was set up by Jewish Christians who were at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:10 tells us that there were visitors from Rome there, and we assume that they were part of the 3000 people who were saved that day, and ultimately went back to Rome and set up a house church there.
From putting pieces of the bible together, we assume that the original church leaders were Aquilia and his wife Priscilla but this church had some difficult times. Initially the church in Rome was made up of mainly Jewish people but as it grew some non-Jews were converted and joined the church. Then something happened in 49AD which turned the whole church upside-down.
The Emperor Claudius, out of total frustration in having to deal with squabbles with the Jewish population, expelled all Jews from Rome for a period of time. As Acts 18:2 tells us, that included the church leaders of Aquilia and Priscilla.
Remember that the Jews had started the church in Rome. All the positions of leadership at that point were probably held by Jews, and now they were all gone! Can you imagine what our church would be like if all the current leaders and past leaders of our church were to suddenly be sent away? The church barely survived. By the time the letter of Romans was written, the Jews had returned, but the foundations of the church were shaky. So Paul wrote this letter, clearly outlining the foundational beliefs – you can read about it in the first 7 chapters of Romans … that we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standards, that none of us can be made right with God through our actions, that God through Jesus work on the cross offers us a free gift of forgiveness and grace. It is a solid block of teaching on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.
And then we hit chapter 8. As I said earlier, this chapter is sometimes described as the “most dense” chapter in the Bible and we are going to step through this chapter and see if we can glean a little of this wisdom and insight. But I can tell you right now … I am not going to do this chapter justice. I am only going to be scratching the surface of its depth and of how this chapter can speak into your life. That is why I will encourage you to read through this chapter on your own and allow it to continue to speak to you and reveal its treasure.
Verse 1 – “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What a way to start a chapter. You are not condemned. The verse actually starts with the word “therefore” and whenever you see the word “therefore” you need to ask the question, “What is it there for?”
I think it points to the foundational teaching in the first 7 chapters … that God in love and through the cross and resurrection of Jesus offers us the free gift of forgiveness and grace. But I think it also refers to a struggle that Paul was having. In Romans 7:15 Paul confesses that too often he doesn’t do what he wants to do but ends up doing what he doesn’t want to do. In verse 23 he says it’s like a war raging inside of him and he desires to fully follow God but it constantly being distracted from that path and then overwhelmed by shame and guilt. I think we can relate to that.
I once read a story about a poor guy in the US who was a first time Dad. It was Mother’s Day but his wife was working a double shift at the hospital, so he went down there with their baby and surprised her with balloons and flowers and a huge banner. It was great and then he carried everything back to the car, stuffed everything back in and headed home.
On the way home, people began to honk their horns and flash their lights at him. He didn’t realize what was going on unti heard a long scraping noise go down the roof, followed by a loud thump. He watched in horror in the rearview mirror as the baby capsule slid off the roof of the car, bounced off the boot and onto the road. He screeched to a halt and ran back down the highway to the baby carrier. The baby was okay but that didn’t stop the waves of guilt and fear crashing over him.
While there’s a part of us that says, “How could he?” there’s another part of us that relates to this poor guy. We recognise all the mistakes we have made, the dumb things we have done born out of hurry or frustration or distraction. And that is what Romans chapter 5-7 is about. We all make mistakes, we all make dumb choices, we all have that experience of sitting there on the side of the road going, “how did I let that happen”.
And this is where the “THEREFORE” kicks in. Paul says, “THEREFORE … there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”. How can Paul say that??? Doesn’t Paul know about my stupid mistakes or the ways that I have tripped up because of frustration or boredom or distraction? Yes Paul does know about that … but says in verse 2 that “through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life sets … you … free!” The condemnation we deserve was placed on Jesus (v3) so that we might be made right (v4). That is why Paul can say, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
That is profound in itself, just sit with that for a moment. Because of Jesus – if you are in Jesus – you are not condemned.
But let’s go a little deeper into this. Paul in this beginning part of Romans 8 set up this dichotomy (is that the right word?) He is setting up a picture where there really is 2 ways to live. Let me explain on the screen.
|Those in Christ Jesus
|Those not in Christ Jesus
|Free from sin and death
|Bound by sin and death
|Condemned by sin
|Live according to the Spirit
|Live according to the sinful nature
Can you see how this works? But it goes on in verse 5…
|Have minds set on what the Spirit desires
|Have minds set on what human nature desires
|life & peace
|Controlled by the Spirit Spirit lives in you Dead to your sins Alive in the Spirit
|Hostile to God Rejects God’s law Controlled by sinful nature Cannot please God
|Jesus lives in you
|Does not belong to Christ
We will look more at this next week … but it is obvious that Paul is clearly setting up a choice … there are two ways to live, to live according to our human desires OR to live according to the Spirit. The choice is yours.
And it is a choice. It is not something that just happens. Actually, Paul would argue that our natural response is to live by our natural desires … it requires a choice to live by the Spirit.
Let me take this a step further by picking up on a phrase used numerous times in verse 5 to 8. The phrase in Greek is “phronema” which the NIV translates as “to have their minds set on” but that doesn’t convey the fullness of that Greek word.
Phronema is the basic direction of one’s life. It is your fundamental orientation, convictions and heart attitude. One commentator said it was like a boat rudder … your Phronema is the thing that steers the course of our life
So Paul is encouraging us to not just have the Spirit living in us … he is saying that we need totally have our lives and our minds oriented in such a way that they influenced and steered by God. That we are Spirit Orientated.
So how are we going with that? Are we totally Spirit Oriented? Are we completely living according to the Spirit? Anyone?
Or are we still struggling a little with a foot in both camps … sometimes being spirit oriented but sometimes slipping back into following our human desires? The good news is that Paul address this point explicitly. Do you want to know what Paul says? Oh … that is in the next part of the chapter. You are going to have to tune in next week to find out.
But I won’t completely leave you hanging. This word Phronema gives us hope … Paul was living this struggle between wanting to live God’s way and yet being distracted by human desires … but Paul did say that he had made the decision to turn the rudder of his life towards God’s way. He had set his Phronema on the spirit. There still might a battle, but at least he is heading in the right direction!
And … for the rest of Paul’s answer you will have to wait till next week.
So, to conclude … if I wanted to sum up the first 11 verse in Romans 8 it would be this:
- If you are in Christ … there is no condemnation. (Did you hear that … you are not condemned because of Jesus death and resurrection … we are made right with God! There is no condemnation).
- But in response … we need to live with the mindset of the spirit. Our Phronema – our life orientation, convictions and heart attitudes – the things that direct our decisions and steer the way we live – needs to be God … we have our minds set on life in the Spirit.
It is a choice … where do you set your mind on today?