[Sept 21]—To The One. . .

            Well we did it. We got through 16 chapters of the book of Romans. As I’ve stated before, if you held a gun to my head and told me to pick my favorite book of the Bible, it’d have to be this one. Let’s see what Paul has to say to them (and us) in these last few verses.
            I know that I ended yesterday’s verse with vs. 20, so I guess I shouldn’t include it with this one, but I love it too much to exclude it. He starts with a wonderful promise (“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”), then with an intended blessing: “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” That’s the essence of the Good News—God’s unmerited favor shown towards us through Jesus Christ. Sorry if you've heard this before, but someone told me a long time ago that grace stands for “God’s riches at Christ’s expense,” and that’s a great way to put it.
            He takes a moment to send greetings from the people who are living and working alongside him. There are just a few that I’d like to note: Timothy (whom he considered a son, about whom he said “I have no one else like him), Tertius (who was Paul’s amanuensis for the letter), and Gaius (with whom Paul and others were staying).  Even though he wrote the letter under the inspiration of the Spirit, behind him were countless servants who (humanly speaking) made it possible.
            Per usual, Paul squeezes 10 pounds of theology into a five-pound bag. These last three verse summarize (or at least touch upon) the main points of Romans. What do we learn about God and ourselves?

·         He is able to establish us. That means we’re safe and secure, not just safe in the arms of Jesus, but as safe as an arm of Jesus. Even though we might fall from time to time, we don’t fall very far or very long. Not because of our strength (duh!), but because of his.
·         He establishes us “according to” the Good News about Christ. It’s in line with, and empowered by, the Message. This Message “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” It’s how God saves us, not just from the penalty of sin, but from the daily power of sin, and ultimately from the very presence of sin.
·         It was a “mystery hidden for long ages past.” Remember, the word “mystery” isn’t referring to something we figure out on our own like a detective novel. No, it’s something so deep and so beyond our understanding that any human endeavor to unwrap it only ends up in frustration. It’s something that God’s hidden from us, but has now revealed it to us.
·         Tense is important: It was hidden, but now it’s been revealed “through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God.” There are lots of things that we’re never going to figure out about God, such as the nature of the Trinity, the human/divine nature of Christ, how his sovereignty interacts with human choices, etc. But the Good News of Christ has been revealed to all humanity—at least in the sense of being available to all—and is now being spread to the furthest reaches of the earth. We certainly don’t understand everything about our salvation, but we know enough. 
·         Why was the Message given to us? Why were we saved? Well, yes, God loves us and didn’t want to see anyone perish. But another big reason—which we tend to overlook—is obedience.  Depending on how you translate it, you could render it “the obedience that comes from faith,” (which is certainly biblical) but literally it says “the obedience of faith,” meaning that the Message is not just an offer to be accepted but a command to be obeyed (like here).
·         The Greek language didn’t have parentheses, but if it did, Paul would've used them. He started verse 25 by saying “Now to him who is able to establish you. . .” and finally closes his thought in vs. 27 by answering who this “him” is: The only wise God. To him be glory forever and ever through Jesus Christ. It all started with him in eternity past, it’s sustained by his grace, and the end of it is to give him glory through his Son forever and ever. That’s what it’s all about.

Father God, what else can I add to this? It all started with you, and everything rolls back around to give you the glory you deserve. With everything I am and everything I do, I want to add to that chorus of glory. In Jesus’ name. 

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