July 29, 2008

The Sinner's Favorite Letter

Every chapter of holy writ is inspired. Every chapter is vital for our Christian existence. Every chapter is lovely, and can usher us into the presence of our Savior. But, I think we would all agree, there are some chapters and sections that seem, especially, to take us by the hand and lead us heavenward – the 23rd Psalm, the parable of the prodigal son, the sermon on the mount, and so on. But if we were to take a survey of the most seasoned Christians, asking: ‘Which Bible passage has been the sweetest, the most oft-returned-to, the most favorite in your Christian pilgrimage … I would venture a guess that we’d get a lot of slips of paper returned with Romans 8 written on them. Here we have some of the most famous and heartening turns of phrase in all the Bible:

Ø “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (v.1).
Ø “A spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (v.15)
Ø “The sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (v.18)
Ø “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (v.26)
Ø “God causes all things to work together for good” (v.28)
Ø “If God is for us, who is against us” (v.31)
Ø “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” (v.36)
Ø “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer” (v.37)

And then there is, perhaps, the most comprehensive promise of God’s goodness is all the Bible “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (v.32).

If the whole Bible is like an enormous treasury of the richest jewels, Romans 8 is like the golden chest, placed on a pedestal in the midst of it all, crammed full of million dollar diamonds. And beginning on August 20, I am going to attempt to pop open the lid, put on my jeweler’s eye-piece, and admire these precious gems with our congregation for several weeks’ worth of Wednesday nights. I do not know how long we will take, or when we might finish. But I want us to work slowly, holding up each individual diamond of truth and grace and looking at it from every angle – maybe only a verse or two per week. Would you pray for us ... and maybe join us online (the sermons are posted Monday afternoons)?

To whet your appetite, let me tack on a quote by Octavius Winslow, a godly pastor of an age gone by, whose congregation spent 34 weeks in this most precious of chapters, and who preached and wrote far more loftily and effectively on these verses than I ever will:

It would, perhaps, be impossible to select from the Bible a single chapter in which were crowded so much sublime, evangelical, and sanctifying truth as this eighth of Romans. It is not only all gospel, but it may be said to contain the whole gospel. In this brief but luminous space is embraced an epitome of all the privileges and duties, trials and consolations, discouragements and hopes of the Christian. Commencing with his elevated position of No Condemnation from God, it conducts him along a path where flowers bloom, and honey drops, and fragrance breathes, and music floats, and light and shade blend in beautiful and exquisite harmony to the radiant point of no separation from Christ. And amid the beauties and sweets, the melodies and sunshine of this glorious landscape of truth, thus spread out in all its panoramic extent and magnificence before his eye, the believer in Jesus is invited to roam, to revel, and delight himself.

Would you join PRBC in prayer as we do a little roaming, reveling, and delighting on Wednesday evenings?

P.S. - Winslow's book is on sale now for $6.60 (an amazing bargain). Get it while you can.

No comments: