INTRODUCTION: This devotional series is based on J.I. Packer’s classic work, Knowing God. There is no greater quest, no more important activity, nothing that should be a higher priority than getting to know God. Too many Christians know about God without making their time with him personal. These devotionals are designed to challenge you to ask questions of yourself, bring these questions before God, make you think, and transform your relationship with God. My prayer is that your study will overflow in emotion, in touching your heart, in connecting with God, and sharing your relationship with others. The book consists of 22 Chapters, thus this series last 22 days. Dig in!
Reflections on Chapter 22: The Adequacy of God
How would you summarize the gospel? Packer finds Romans the premier book to describe the message of the gospel (as did Luther, Calvin, and Tyndale). Why? Romans presents both doctrine applied and application instructed.
1. Doctrine. Romans teaches the truth about God, directly from God, covering nearly every possible spiritual theme – God, man, sin, law, judgment, faith, works, grace, creation, redemption, justification, sanctification, plan of salvation, election, reprobation, Christ, the Spirit, Jews, the church, the meaning of the OT, piety, ethics, Christian duties, etc.
2. Life. Romans instructs us on how to find God’s grace, then serve and live in the grace of God.
3. God's People. From Abraham through the Jews then to those who find salvation in Christ, Romans describes how to live in God's presence and how God lives in us.
4. God’s Personal Letter. Romans is intensely personal. Paul explains how God understands my personal habits, hypocrisy, faith (lack of it), self-righteousness, self-reliance, unbelief, shallow repentance, worldliness, fear, half-heartedness, spiritual conceit, and insensitivity. In Romans, God also shows us how to experience joy, assurance, boldness, liberty, and love for the Spirit.
Why is it that not everyone appreciates the message found in Romans? Who appreciates Mount Everest more - a person who takes the helicopter up Mt Everest or the one who climbs the mountain? In the same way, the struggles of life and the strains of working to understand God help you to appreciate the power of what Romans teaches. In other words, as we grow in our faith, we appreciate the message of Romans in a much deeper way.
Romans 8 is the peak of the mountain. It can only be understood after wrestling through Romans 7: 1-3 to understand your sinfulness; v4-5 to understand Jesus in relation to Abraham and faith; v6-7 to understand the implications and the struggle of the new life. Romans 8 answers the questions raised in Romans 7 about how to overcome sin and the consequences of the law.
Understanding God's Gifts
Romans 8 starts with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation.” In the first 30 verses, Paul demonstrates God’s ability to overcome sin (1-9), death (6-13), slavery to sin (15), despair in suffering (17-25), difficulty praying (26), and purposelessness / hopelessness (28-30). Paul describes four gifts in Christ:
1. Righteousness (8:1)
2. Holy Spirit (8:4-27)
3. Sonship (8:14-17,29)
4. Security (8:28-30)
Understanding the Giver
The second part of the chapter turns from describing the gifts to understanding the giver. The giver is able to help those in suffering, moral lapse, disease, life/death, tragedy, and pain.
What shall we say to these things? Paul charges us to THINK! Think your way out of emotional problems by remembering the gospel and its implications:
· We have the Holy Spirit
· We are sons
· We are confident in God’s ultimate delivery – we are more than conquerors!
Where does this lead us? Romans 8:28-38 helps us:
· Overcome fear. If God is for us, who can be against us? God is our protector. Therefore, no opposition can defeat us. We have God’s covenant commitment. Psalm 56:4 conveys the same principle – what can flesh do to me?
· Overcome unbelief. Will he not give us all things with Him? God didn’t spare his son, what then would he spare to protect us? God’s example in sacrificing Christ for us gives us every reason to put our faith in him now.
· Overcome fear of rejection. Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? No accusation can disinherit us! We are God’s elect – he chose us before we chose him. God is the sovereign judge and Christ intercedes for us. Rejection is not an option!
· Overcome fear of the unknown. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? God is our sovereign keeper who has a divine (unconditional) love for us. God loves us and Christ loves us – “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” Paul emphasizes this teaching with his assurance, “I am convinced.”
Packer closes out the book with a charge to live the Christian life – be a disciple! Quoting Oswald Chambers, “the best measure of a spiritual life is not its ecstasies, but its obedience.” The most vital issue of the Christian faith today is not political, social, philosophical, or ecclesiastical (about church). Many Christian books present things in this manner. No, the most vital issue of Christian faith today is obedience to the God we Know. Disciples must follow the God they Know. Christians must imitate the Christ they Know. God’s people must live as God’s people because they Know God.
May we with David pray, “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalm 27:8)
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:17-19