The Good Book Club

Week of January 28

This week: Romans 8:9—10:4

Paul continues his letter with an emphasis on our obligation to live in the Spirit – bathed in the rivers of living water. When we live in the Spirit, Paul says, we live as a child of God. To help explain this idea, Paul offers a metaphor of adoption. Commentators say that in biblical days, a son once adopted no longer had claim to his old life (and family) but gained all the rights and privileges of the new family. Any debt was wiped clean, all past forgotten. So too when we are adopted by the Spirit, living anew as children of God, all debts are wiped clean. That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. We will. But in joining Jesus in suffering, we also are able to join him in glory as all creation awaits. In other words, life won’t be easy but God’s help in difficult days is an enduring promise: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

In Romans 9, Paul moves a bit off his main theme of God’s love revealed to us in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit and into problems with Israel—once the beloved chosen and now rejected and cursed. He discusses both sides of the coin: this is God’s will, and this is the fault of the Israelites, who stumbled, who did not seek God’s goodness by faith. In the following week, we’ll dive deeper into Paul’s response about Israel but for now, I urge you to read and re-read Romans 8:38, which I think could be considered the entire letter’s “nut graph”—what journalists call the heart of the story, the main point in a nutshell.

Paul writes, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Nothing. That is good news, indeed.

For Discussion:

How do you know if you are living in the Spirit? How can you invite the Spirit into your life?

Where is the Spirit leading you? What is keeping you from following?

What does it mean to you to be a child of God?

Do you think Romans 8:38 is the heart of Paul’s letter? Why or why not? What does this verse mean to you personally?

(forward day by day)