Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rambling through Romans: 1:1-7 (2)


Romans 1:1-7 (2)

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 

“Gospel” – a word badly misunderstood in the West for half a century now.  Gospel is a big, big word!  It’s about God achieving his “eternal purpose” (Eph.3:11), what he had in mind when he created in the first place.

The Gospel is about Jesus, according to Paul here.  The prophets pointed toward the coming of a messianic figure who would do for Israel and the world has God intended.  A Davidic figure who would rule the world.

Yet this Jesus, this messianic, Davidic figure, died a humiliating death as a seditious outcast, rejected by his own people as well as the Roman Empire.  He was not what any Jew expected the messiah to be!  He didn’t do the kinds of things messiah was expected to do and what he did (especially healing and exorcisms) were things messiah was not expected to do.

But it was just this Jesus who God raised from the dead by his Spirit.  Resurrection is God’s own validation and vindication of this dishonored and rejected man.  He truly is messiah, the Davidic ruler promised by God to achieve God’s big dreams for his world!

Through the raised and victorious Jesus the church has been drafted into a vital role in implementing and extending God’s original intentions for human life throughout the world. 

God’s eternal purpose from creation onward (actually from eternity onward) is to have a fully flourishing creation inhabited by human beings filled with his life with whom God himself may come and dwell in peace and fellowship forever.  That’s the gospel, the good news, we are called to share with the world. 

Paul sought the “obedience of faith” from the Gentile world to which he had been sent.  Whether this phrase means the obedience which is faith, or the obedience which comes from faith, either way it ties together what we too often keep apart.  Faith is a whole person response to God which reorders and reorients our priorities, passions, and practices (see the first post in this series) into alignment with God’s purpose for us.  In other words, Paul is calling the Gentiles to become a part of that people with whom God will dwell here forever.  

And to belong to this people is to be a “saint” (v.7)  -  a person set apart (like Paul, v.1) for God’s purpose and use, which is the fulfillment of the humanity God created us to be!

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