Personalized Promises From Romans 8

John Piper personalizes the promises of Romans 8 . . . let Paul preach the gospel to your heart:

Romans chapter eight is so dense and so constant with good news — good news that is so great and so glorious and so vastly superior to all the good news in this world — whether health good news, or family good news, or church good news, or job good news, or political good news, or international good news, or financial good news — so vastly superior to all earthly good news and so relentless, that you can scarcely feel the full force of it until you take virtually every verse and restate it as the good news that it is.

That’s what I would like to do for you and with you now . . . be in an attitude of hungry readiness to hear the Lord himself speak kindly and deeply and powerfully to your soul. I have tried to restate these truths as if God himself were speaking them to you—his children.

8:1 In Christ, you are free from eternal condemnation.

8:2 You are free from the damning curse and power of sin.

8:3 I executed the penalty for your sin in the crucified flesh of my Son.

8:4 The Holy Spirit is fulfilling in you the demands of my law summed up in love.

8:6 The power of the Holy Spirit in your soul gives life and peace.

8:7–8 Apart from the Holy Spirit, you are in bondage to the flesh and cannot please me.

8:9 But you are not in the flesh. My Spirit is in you, and you are the possession of my son Jesus Christ.

8:10–11 My Spirit in you will one day give life to your mortal bodies in the resurrection.

8:12 Your only debt in life is to live by the power of the Holy Spirit.

8:13 That power is the only means by which you can kill your sin.

8:14 All who are thus led by my Spirit to kill sin show that they are my sons.

8:15 My indwelling Spirit is the spirit of adoption, wakening the cry from your heart, “Abba Father.”

8:16 This is my witness with your spirit that you are my children.

8:17 As my children, you are my heirs and will share my glory after a life of groaning with me in this fallen world.

8:18 But that groaning is not worth comparing to the glory that you will see and share.

8:19 The whole broken creation waits to receive its glorification when you receive your glorification. Yours will be hers, not the other way around.

8:20 I subjected the creation to its present futility with a hope-filled purpose.

8:21 One day, this entire creation will attain its own freedom and glory after and from and for my glorious children.

8:22 It is as if the whole creation were heaving with the labors of immanent birth.

8:23 Even the Spirit-indwelt followers of my Son groan in your aging, disease-ridden bodies with these same hopeful birth pangs, as you await the fullness of the privileges of your adoption, the resurrection of your glorified bodies.

8:24–25 Since you are saved — not fully already but only in hope — you wait with patience through all of your sufferings.

8:26 When you don’t know how to pray in your sufferings, my Spirit prays for you through your very groanings.

8:27 I never mistake my Spirit’s meaning, but respond always for your good.

8:28 But one thing you do know: I work everything for the good of those who love me and are called according to my purpose.

8:29 From eternity I took note of you, acknowledged you, chose you, and destined you infallibly to magnify my Son by becoming like him as the great firstborn.

8:30 I forged in eternity the unbreakable links of the chain: predestined, called, justified, glorified so that at no point is any of my elect ever lost.

8:31 Manifestly then, I am for you! No one can successfully oppose us.

8:32 I gave my own Son to save you. And so, with the hardest act behind me, nothing can stop me from giving you everything you need to enjoy me forever.

8:33 When I, the judge of the universe, count you righteous, and acquit you in the court of the universe, no charge, from any adversary, can stick.

8:34 To secure this vindication, Christ Jesus died, rose, reigns, and intercedes for you before me.

8:35 Therefore nothing can separate you from the love of Christ — not tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword.

8:36 You may be slaughtered like sheep — indeed somewhere in this world you are always being killed.

8:37 But no. Even in your slaughter — or any other demise — your loss becomes your gain, and your enemies become your servants.

8:38–39 Therefore you may be sure — you should be sure, how can you not be sure — that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [you] from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

From John Piper’s excellent message “Greatest Book, Greatest Chapter, Greatest Joy”

Crisis in Biblical Literacy

From Michael S. Horton in a recent White Horse Inn email . . .

There’s a crisis of biblical literacy on three levels:

1. The basic storyline – including famous episodes and characters in Scripture – meet blank stares, even with young people raised in the church.

2. Many who can identify key names and events express confusion about how it all fits together. They might have pieces of the puzzle, but they don’t know the big picture.

3. Still fewer of those who can put it together can explain it to someone else. And because they don’t understand the drama of redemptive history, they unwittingly revise the entire story.

We Need More Cruciform Churches

work_226Those grand and glorious cathedrals built in the Middle Ages may have something to teach us about the way we live the Christian life today.

The medieval church ministered to a culture that had no direct, personal access to the Scriptures in their own language. The church leaders of that era were faced with the challenge of teaching biblical truth to a Bible-less people. One creative way they taught key doctrines was by building object lessons into their church facilities. The cathedral served as “The Poor Man’s Bible,” as historians now call it. Everything about the way a cathedral was built—firm foundations and transcendent towers, storytelling statues of stone, tile mosaics and stained glass windows depicting central biblical stories in full color, and even the way sunlight streamed through those windows—was designed to help folks discern, delight in, and declare the great, biblical doctrines concerning God and the gospel.

The art and architecture of these sanctuaries taught two central biblical truths: God’s just judgment against the sinfulness of mankind; and God’s gracious provision of salvation from his wrath through the life, crucifixioaerial-amiens-cathedral-2-2n, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Cathedrals were intentionally built to teach theology to the people in the pews. And not just random bits and pieces of biblical teaching, but a consistent curriculum of repentance from sin and faith in Jesus as he is offered in the gospel. Indeed, the most distinct feature of these cathedrals was their cruciform or “cross-shaped” floor plan. The central doctrine the church building communicated was the gospel, the message of the cross. And since these church buildings were the most prominent and prized buildings, the hope was that through the preaching of the gospel inside the church building and through the presentation of the gospel in its art and architecture, the surrounding population would both see and hear the message of the cross.

Here in the 21st century we need more cruciform churches. Not lavish cathedrals but living communities of disciples being shaped by the cross into the shape of the cross for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors, the nations, and the next generation. Our best hope is to cooperate with The Architect, who promised he would build his church (Matthew 16:18) as we join him to form our families, small groups, and churches into “cruciform communities.” Such communities visibly show and verbally share the message of the cross because they are made up of people who have been vibrantly shaped by that message.  

Unlike the cathedrals of the Middle Ages, this construction project requires both the building and its building blocks to be cross-shaped. The Apostle Paul taught that both our individual bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19) and the corporate Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) are temples in whom the Spirit and glory of God dwell because of what Jesus did on the cross. The biblical blueprint for a cruciform church calls for every Christian to live what I’m calling “the Cruciform Life,” a life shaped by Christ crucified (Galatians 2:20; Matthew 16:24).

Let us pray with Jesus that through the preaching of the gospel in and by our church communities, and through the presentation of the gospel in our vertical love for God and horizontal love for others, the world would both hear from us and see in us the message of the cross (John 17:14-21).

[This post was adapted from the Introduction to Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life. To learn more about the Cruciform Life read Cruciform and this blog.]