So I haven't written for a while. Things have been a bit crazy and I needed some time to rest from how busy life had gotten.
But I thought to start back on the blog I might share with you in three parts my sermon notes on Romans 8 which I was going to preach on in July, but in the end wasn't able to.
The topic for the women's conference I was going to speak at was 'God as our Refuge'. I prepared to talk about God as our refuge in the present as part of a three part series with two other speakers who were doing 'past' and 'future'. And as I was thinking about what passage to look at when thinking about taking refuge in God and I thought about one of my favourite passages which I have personally found to be important in reminding me to trust God and take refuge in Him in difficult times, even bring me to tears of joy at some times (and I just realised that I included it in my post about contentment too!) - Romans chapter 8. So here we go.
I have three points which I'll write about in separate posts (which I have made all start with 'S' like a good Presbyterian. Apparently they love alliterations).
We can take refuge in God because we are;
- being Sanctified
So our first stop is;
We can take refuge in God because we are saved.
We’re going to start looking at this by looking at where we are in history, more specifically where we are in the Bible’s timeline for the world.
In the Bible’s narrative we fit in some time after the New Testament, and before the promised return of Jesus when the world will come under its final judgement and the new heavens and new earth are created. We are in an ‘in-between’ time. And this has implications for how we take refuge in God.
If you come with me to our passage, chapter 8 of Romans starting at verse 1, we can begin to see this.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” ~ Romans 8:1-4
And down to verse 13.
“For if you live according to the Sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.” For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” ~ Romans 8:13-16
We see here that now because of Jesus we can be set free, saved, from the sin and death that had us as slaves (something the law could not do) because Jesus was a sin offering for us. He died in our place and we are no longer condemned by our sin. We also see that those who are saved are led by God’s Spirit to life, and we are His children, which is pretty incredible!
Now, although we are now children of God, there is also a sense in which are still waiting for our adoption as His children to be complete. This is how we are in the 'in-between' time.
If you come with me to verse 19 we’ll look at this closer;
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” ~ Romans 8:19-25
So we see that not only are we now the children of God because we have the Spirit, but we also look forward in the hope of our salvation for adoption as God’s children and the redemption of our bodies, as well as for the whole of creation to be renewed. Our salvation is both already effective, and being put into effect as we hope for the future.
To use a imperfect analogy, it's kind of like having a mortgage on a house. You own the house, you've put down the deposit, you're living in the house, but it's not fully yours yet.
In a similar way, we are now saved by God, through Jesus, and we have the Spirit of sonship now (verses 14-16). But at the same time we are waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, and we wait in hope (verses 23-25). We are saved and adopted as God's children now, but we are also waiting in the imperfect world we live in for the coming time when our bodies will be redeemed, made new, and our adoption as children of God will be made complete. (Although, different to the mortgage analogy, our salvation is already fully ours through Jesus. I did say it was imperfect!).
So what does being saved mean for us to have God as our refuge?
It means that the hope that we are waiting patiently in is a sure hope, because we already are adopted as sons and have the Spirit who testifies to this, at the same time as we are waiting for our adoption as sons.
It means that we can take comfort in the present time, even though we 'groan inwardly as we wait eagerly' for the time when God will make all things new.
This can be especially comforting when we face all kinds of trials and difficulties in life, whether it is bodies which fail us, people who fail us, systems which fail us, when we fail other people...the list goes on.
We can take refuge in God by knowing we can call him 'Abba, Father' (verse 15) because we are His children now because we are saved. And we can take refuge in Him knowing that the sufferings we experience in this world are temporary in light of what is to come. What a wonderful reality!
Well, that was the end of part one, keep an eye out for part two: suffering.