The Last Question: What can we say? - 29 July 2022

By Louise Gevers

When indoor plants which bring life to otherwise sedate rooms are gifts from people I love, I cherish each one as I tend it and think about the giver. Whether or not there’s more than one of the same kind, I love the uniqueness each offers through colour and perfume.

So I was sad to see, the other day, that all but two of my anthurium’s prolific heart-shaped red blossoms had died and were stark and brown on the stalk. I marvelled at how the plant itself was still green and vigorously healthy, and yet the flowers could change from red to brown as the anthurium moved into a different phase which would enable further growth.

Perhaps this is how the young church might’ve appeared to Paul as it grew, as he wrote to the Roman church to promote understanding and unite the different groups through the gospel. Fresh and growing, empowered by the Spirit, it was producing beautiful fruit that brought vitality and encouragement to new converts to Christianity, and as he preached the gospel, promoted the planting of new churches.

With sound teaching, and encouragement about its significance, Paul puts the new life in Christ into perspective. This eighth chapter of his letter to the Romans is a rich celebration of the triumph of God’s grace through Jesus. Through the cross of Christ, God simultaneously dealt with judgment, as Jesus paid the price for sin, and showed His mercy to sinners so that all human beings could find salvation by His grace.

So, it’s with great triumph that Paul begins this chapter and proclaims, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

As a Pharisee, Paul appreciated what God had done from the beginning in providing the Law for the common benefit; but he celebrated that even when man was too weak to keep it, God had fulfilled His righteous purpose by bringing freedom from sin and new life in the Spirit, through Christ.

“You… are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you… But if Christ is in you, although 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,” this same Spirit “will also give life to [our] mortal bodies”. (Romans 8:9-11)

Through this we are able to live in hope; we are released from slavery to sin and need no longer fear death. Instead, we receive “the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ because we become “children of God.” (Romans 8:15-16) “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Through His sacrifice for us, Jesus has given us everything possible to live, work and suffer triumphantly with Him, and for Him, as He constantly intercedes for us at God’s right hand.

We can share Paul’s absolute certainty, “No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am 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 us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)

Prayer: Father God, our hope through Jesus Christ our Lord, You love us as individuals and call us by name. You have graciously given us everything we need to be your children. Help us to honour You as we live victoriously through your Spirit’s power. Amen