Reading Romans 8

Hello hello friends! Welcome to week 3 of your "homework" as we turn our attention to the study of Romans 8, 9, and 10 this week. Romans 8 is where this weeks memory verse comes from that Rev. Joyce shared in her wonderful message yesterday. As a reminder, we're encouraging you to remember: "I am convinced that 'nothing' will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." It's such a wonderful line from the Bible that I'm sure many of us have heard in our lifetimes. It's also a potent reminder that God is a God of love, even when the world throws around hate, God is love. In addition, Rev. Joyce has encouraged us each to begin our mornings with a simple prayer that goes: "Gracious Lord, fill me with your Spirit and renew my soul that I may live as your child and honor you in all that I do today." We'll say this one more time below in our closing prayer section as well. :) I want to affirm that Joyce's message did a really good job at breaking down Romans 8 into relatable circumstances so if you happened to miss that make sure to check out our YouTube page today around 3pm to watch it.


For me Romans 8 feels a little something like this: I'm not much of a morning person, nor am I a night person. I'm sort of just a perpetually tired bird, unfortunately. As a result, I struggle to get up early in the morning to go running even though I know that is when I'm most likely to get the mileage in that I need to properly train. This was especially true when I was training for Burning River and needed to get 30+ mile runs in that would take up a large chunk of my day. On the days when I got up and ran I could feel genuine difference in my person the rest of the day. I was proud, confident, eager to get more work done, and happier. On the days when I would sleep for another few hours and have to compromise my run I was bitter, ashamed, and lethargic all day. The temptations of the flesh telling me to sleep led to negative feelings, while the times I lived into the person I knew God made me to be - a runner - I was rewarded with positive feelings.


I assume each of you struggle with your own battles between temptations of the flesh vs the spirit. As Joyce mentioned some examples might be: drinking too much or saying a hurtful word when we're angry. Whatever your struggles are - I hope you know that you can turn to God and ask for a little help. Because guess what? "I am convinced that 'nothing' will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." <3


Take some time to read Romans 8 and gather your own thoughts, questions, and encouragements. I'll share some of the 'heady' aspects of it down below for those that are interested in that kind of thing.


~ Pastor Nick

 

Scripture to Read


Romans 8


This link will take you to the NRSV version but feel free to use any translation you prefer!

 

My Thoughts


Beneath and embedded in Paul’s letter to the Romans is the ferment of the empowerment of a new life brought about by God’s unconditional love.


The nature of God’s love is manifested in the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — this love is given full potency by the presence and wonder-working power of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus in John 14:26. Paul’s message in Romans 8:1-11 is focused on calling believers to have a personal experience of the Holy Spirit and to anchor their lives in the promised “advocate or counselor,” (John 14: 26). Thus, through Christ and the Holy Spirit, believers are propelled to live out liberated lives, free from the “condemnation,” by evil worldviews. Preaching and teaching on spiritual rebirth is always needed and pastors must not have an oversight on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within the church and among church members.


In Romans 7:14-25, the apostle Paul paints a graphic description of the tension between humanity’s ego and the Holy Spirit; of which he exhorts believers to choose a life of the spirit. The tension Paul portrays needs to be acknowledged because the human condition is indeed characterized by an in-between worldview. However, conversion is a much-needed process of every Christian believer. While good and evil dwell in the believer, Paul calls on believers to pray for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who brings health, security and transformation to the human condition (Romans 8: 1-39). Therefore, what we have in Romans 8:1-11 is Paul’s teaching about the power of the Holy Spirit in offering humanity a new life in Christ.


Being born of the spirit is not a case of being liberal or conservative but is the only way human beings can become transformed persons on their journey to becoming citizens of the Kingdom of God. In some way, Romans 8:1-11 is Paul’s theological defense of everything that Christ accomplished on the Cross to eradicate humanity from the power of the law into the power of the Holy Spirit. From this life of the Holy Spirit, “nothing can separate the believer.”


The message of new birth must be preached in today’s world; especially in main line denominations where a decline in membership has caused closure of some congregations that were once vibrant and life-giving centers of spiritual growth and transformation. Spiritual rebirth should be the position of every Christian believer, because standing in the church does not depend on past life but on what the Holy Spirit continues to do.


My reading and interpretation of Romans 8 is that the ‘flesh,’ is not negative, but like many other God given gifts the flesh must cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit so that glory will be given to God. In some sense, I am not negating the power of reason and intelligence but am advocating for the central role of the Holy Spirit as Paul teaches us in all his letters. Similarly, clergy must expand their interpretive theological horizons and be able to help parishioners grasp the width, depth and vastness of the teaching role of the Spirit. Among other things; the Holy Spirit opens human minds to new worldviews, insights and strategies. What Paul exhorts believers in this pericope is to be open to the guiding role of the Holy Spirit whose work is to teach, sustain communities of faith, and guide believers along their faith journeys.


In essence, Romans 8:1-39 functions as a model prayer for every believer who finds oneself in challenging situations. Having been indwelt and believing in the Holy Spirit, the adopted believer is invited to enjoy the blessings of God and the victory that proceeds from one’s relationship with God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In other words, Paul in Romans 8:1-11, introduces believers to ‘Trinitarian,’ theology and in particular to the ministry role of the Holy Spirit.


In Romans 8:26-27 Paul returns to the first characteristic of humanity’s hope elaborated in Romans 1-11. The transition of the human soul into what Paul calls, “in Christ,” through baptism, is guaranteed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit whose sole responsibility is to continue absolving, praying, regenerating, and forgiving the human soul torn between the life in the flesh and spirit. Therefore, in moments of human desperation and on the crossroads of life, God’s breath is always at work, whispering, directing, and sustaining hopeless lives (Romans 8:26-27). The Advocate promised by Jesus in John is consistently operating within the interior of believers, propelling them to new heights in seasons of sliding backwards.


n some way, Paul is asking the question: “Do we know how to pray and what to pray for when we are on the crossroads of life?” The answer to this question is that no one knows, and therefore we rely on the Holy Spirit. Whether we teach people how to pray or not, Romans 8:26-27 is a call to believe in the intercession of the Holy Spirit — this truth is no longer held in most denominations. As a result, the Holy Spirit is treated like an artifact in a museum. What a blessing and an encouragement to know that the Holy Spirit prays for Christian believers. This should not be a surprise to Christians because the Holy Spirit is Jesus himself and we know that Jesus had a track record of prayer life and miracles, as recorded in the Gospels.


Because of the inability of persons to perfect themselves, God provides the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s creation plan. The word predestination has some icky connotations that Methodists have rejected since our inception, but in this chapter, Paul uses the concept in reference to God’s original intent: the salvation of humanity. In other words, salvation is not ours but rather, it is located in God’s five-fold plan, which is: “called, provided, acquitted, justified and glorified.” (Romans 8:30). Thus, the journey of Christian perfection is conceived by God stretching from conception to eternity.


All humans experience frustrations, life challenges, ministry mountains, tragedies, and moments of desperation. Yet, the Apostle Paul assures us that God through the Son and the Holy Spirit has guaranteed victory, and that all can be assured the Sovereign Lord will not let them down. What is called for among all believing Christians is faith, trust, and obedience in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. These three are divine attributes that make the Pentecost a reality and allow it to be an everyday experience.


 

Praying the Hymns


I lift up a favorite of Mack, a member from my last church, as our prayer for Romans 8 - Blessed Assurance. What a good and perfect song to capture the saving and affirming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives! If you would prefer to say a spoken prayer instead of music I encourage you to say the prayer that Joyce wrote for us in her message:


"Gracious Lord, fill me with your Spirit and renew my soul that I may live as your child and honor you in all that I do today."


Traditional:

Lyrics in video and below!

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.


This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long.


Perfect submission, perfect delight,

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;

Angels descending bring from above

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.


This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long


"Contemporary"


V1

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine

O what a foretaste of glory divine

Heir of salvation, purchase of God

Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood


Ch1

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my Savior all the day long

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my Savior all the day long


Tag

All the day long

All my life long


V2

Perfect submission, perfect delight

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight

Angels descending, bring from above

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love


V3

Perfect submission, all is at rest

I in my Savior am happy and blessed

Watching and waiting, looking above

Filled with His goodness, lost in His love


Ch2

This is our story, this is our song

Praising our savior all the day long

This is our story, this is our song

Praising our savior all the day long

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Hello friends - bit of business up front and then we’ll dive into the topic for the day. My final day at Chagrin Falls is Easter Sunday and the blogs will be suspended after that. Thus, the final blog