September 5, 2011

Tuesday after the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.73, 2 Sam. 1:1-16, Lk. 22:1-13
Evening - Ps.78, Nahum 2, Rom. 8:28

Commentary
Romans 8:28-39

Reading this passage in Romans requires us to look back at Rom. 8:18: "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Everything in tonight's reading is written to support and prove the point stated in this verse.

It is to prove verse 18 that Paul makes the great statement in 8:28, "all things work together for good to them that love God." There are several reasons why all things work together for our good. First, they develop Godliness in us. The course of life shapes us into the people God wants us to be. As James puts it, "the trying of your faith worketh patience" (Jas. 1:3), and as Paul states it in Romans 5:3&4, "tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope." Second, the trials and disappointments of life teach us to look for our greatest treasures in Heaven rather than earth. In Heaven, moths and rust do not corrupt our goods, and thieves cannot steal them away (Mt. 6:20). But the greatest good that can come from our experiences on earth is the realisation that God is greater than all our problems, and even greater than all our worldly pleasures. They "are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." It is as we realise this more and more that we fix our hope and peace on God. In this way, all things work together for our good.

In support of the premise in 8:18, Paul offers the statements in verses 29 and 30. Many stumble over the word "predestination," but we need not allow it to cause us grief. It is, after all, a Biblical word. Some people see this word and make it the sum and total of their understanding of the Bible. Others ignore it altogether. Neither is correct. Obviously the God of all creation is moving the created order toward His pre-determined goal. That goal, equally obviously, includes people. Rather than letting this cause us heartburn, let it do as Paul meant it to do, assure us that our lives and souls are in the hand of God, who is preparing us to dwell with Him in Heaven forever. Compared to this, the problems and troubles of earth seem very small and trivial.

Romans 8:29 and 30 are simply more support for the conclusion of 8:18, and lead us to the question in 18:31,"if God be for us, who can be against us?" He gave His Son for us, will a few problems on earth prevent Him from giving us all the things He intends to give? (8:32) He has justified us, can any charges against us stand up in His court? (8:33). Christ died and rose again for us, is anything able to separate us from that kind of Divine love? (8:34). The answer is a resounding, "NO!" None of the sufferings of this present time are able to separate us from His love, or take from us our place in His Kingdom of grace.

Verses 35-39 offer a frightening array of the "sufferings of this present time." None of them can prevent God from completing the work He has begun in us. None of them can prevent those, whom He has justified and is sanctifying, from being brought into the full and final sense of the salvation Christ died to purchase for us. In all of these things we are more than conquerors, for Christ will infallibly bring us to the promised joy of Heaven forever.

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