This morning I’m sitting with Bill Watson and we’re going over the music and layout of the upcoming Life Celebration for Lenore Libbey. I’m going to meet with Lenore’s son Mark and granddaughter Anna early next week to finalize our plans. Lenore is going to have a joyful send up!
One of the things we’re thinking of including is a favorite Affirmation of Faith of mine, written by the Apostle Paul in Romans, Chapter 8. And it occurs to me, as I’m reading over this passage for what is maybe the 100th time or more, that most people probably don’t know or realize that a number of the Epistles attributed to Paul probably aren’t actually written by him at all.
Romans is considered one of the “authentic” letters of the Apostle Paul. Also on the list? 1 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians and Philemon. The rest of the Epistles attributed to Paul are certainly “Pauline” in their tone and feel, but most academics think that they were written by followers, students or others after Paul had passed. They carry no less weight in the canon; it’s just an interesting factoid. Dr. Jimmy Hoke, as a certified--bona fide--died in the wool Pauline scholar can no doubt fill you in on all the finer details.
One of my favorite quotes from my old prof, Brandon Scott, is “there is no substitute for reading the text—you’ll be amazed at how enlightening it can be!” Indeed. I hear and feel Paul’s passion in Romans 8.
As we make the turn into the final weeks of Lent, Paul’s deep passion for the Gospel impresses me. It challenges me. It indicts me!
Listen to the words—you may find yourself cheering with him!
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us…
For I am convinced 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 us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Right on, Paul!
Grace & Peace,