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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 53

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Preservation: Kept Securely in Christ Jesus - 8:1-39

In a real sense the eighth chapter of Romans is the conclusion, the consummation, of the apostle Paul's treatise on salvation, answering the question, "how does God save sinners?" The climax is in this chapter.

In chapters 1, 2, and 3 the whole world was shown condemned and lost in sin. In chapters 3, 4, and 5 condemned sinners were seen as justified and declared righteous, if they believe on Jesus Christ. Then, in chapters 6 and 7, the method of sanctification was explained.

Now then, the end of chapter 7 completed the treatment of justification and sanctification. There remains just one more question that can arise: will this divine method of justification and sanctification last? The eighth chapter of Romans was written to answer that question, and the whole burden of the chapter is this: "if you are in Christ Jesus, you are safe!" Justification and sanctification in Christ will endure.

So then, we might say that the theme of Romans 8 is  "security", or to put it broadly, "preservation."

There is a peculiar phrase which occurs in the opening verse of this chapter and also in the last verse. That phrase is "in Christ Jesus." If those two ideas are put together, "preservation" and "in Christ Jesus," this statement results: "preserved in Christ Jesus." Moreover, this very phrase occurs in the first verse of Jude. Speaking of the saints, he declares, "You are preserved in Christ Jesus."

The roots, so to speak, of the teaching of this chapter may be found in the saying of our Lord Jesus Christ while He was upon earth. Those who like to criticize God's Word and are  not in sympathy with the faith often say that Paul was in conflict with Jesus Christ. They say that Jesus Christ gave us truth while Paul gave us theology. But the germ of this chapter can be seen in what Christ taught and said while on earth. At least three passages from the gospel of John can demonstrate this. The gospel of John is preeminently the gospel for the Christian. The Lord says: "He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

This chapter of Romans starts out with those two ideas - first of all that there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus. Christ taught this truth, and Paul developed it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The second verse says, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death,"  and that idea is developed down at least to verse 11, dealing with the passing from death unto life.

When Christ prayed concerning His own, He said, as He spoke to His Father, "The glory which thou gavest me I have given them" (John 17:22). He spoke in the past tense, "I have given them" - not, "I will," but "I have". The whole central section of Romans 8 (from verses 18 - 30) is permeated with the idea that Christ expressed in John 17:22. Paul begins with reckoning "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory," down to verse 30, where he says, "whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified."

One other statement of Jesus, "They shall never perish" (john 10:28) contains a concept worked out in Romans 8. Practically the whole chapter in germ form, is contained in what our Lord Jesus Christ taught in the three passages.

Somebody has called Romans 8 the brightest jewel in the setting of the Bible, and surely it is only as you examine the diamond closely, as does the expert, that you can comprehend its beauty and glory! It is impossible to mention, let alone explain, all the truth that is in this chapter of Romans. That would be a hopeless task in one chapter. When we come to form an outline of the chapter, again we almost despair - not that one cannot find an outline, but the trouble is to find one that is suitable for the study and comprehending all the truth that is in it. I have tried a dozen or two, and all were good, but somehow each outline seemed to leave out about nine tenths of the truth!

I want to suggest four or five and then go more deeply into one I have decided on.

Possible Outlines of Romans 8

Security

First, a simple outline emerges from the viewpoint of "security." The chapter starts with the phrase, "In Christ Jesus." I want to state it like this: "Jesus Christ is around us." Of course He would be, if we are "in" Him (vv. 1-4). Next, the Holy Spirit is "in" us (vv.5-27). God is "for" us (vv. 28). In this chapter is stated very beautifully the relation of the Triune God to the believer.

Ministry of the Holy Spirit

The second outline can be made from the standpoint of the "ministry of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of Life" (vv. 1-13); the Spirit of adoption (vv. 14-17); the Spirit of glory (vv. 18-25); and the Spirit of intercession (vv. 26-27). That does not exhaust His ministry by any means, but that is all here in this chapter. However, some of the chapter is thus omitted.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 54 - "Series of Contrasts")

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