Tuesday, 27 March 2012

New Perspectives and Extra Biblical Material

Well lifes been busy….. spent a week away at the Wales Evangelical School of Theology doing my last module for my MTh, and been trying to catch up ever since!

This time it was Christology and Soteriology, with a look at the New Perspective(s) – yes, there now appears to be as many perspectives as theologians – especially as per James Dunn and N T Wright. We had some good lectures and discussions – there’s something about learning together.

One interesting exercise was going down to the library and looking at the growing use of extra Biblical resources in commentaries in the last ten years – a shocking eye opener, with some ranging up to 10 pages of references!

How encouraging to hear that its a move in the wrong direction (contra Dunn and Wright), and the Old Testament is to be our base and guide to understanding the New. To do otherwise is to suggest that in a hundred or so years time people could gather from the writings of the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and any other cult and suggest that their understanding of the Bible should help people of the day know what Christians really believed back then! No way!

So, be encouraged, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have access to the Dead Sea Scrolls or the numerous other bits of literature only available to academia. Your Bible is inspired by God and fully trustworthy. Get to know the Old Testament and how it is worked out in the New – what a book; what a message!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Free in Christ - Romans 8

For many Romans 8 is something they aim at, but rarely get there. To often their experience is Romans 7, the wretched man, but that is to fall short of the gospel. Romans 8 is meant to be the normal Christian life. Some years ago after living as a Romans 7 Christian I studied Romans afresh, and realised I had missed something.

Frequently the realm of Flesh and Spirit is seen as interior, and so an inner conflict is set up (and I had many of them), but Romans reveals it to be two realms, and we are either in one or the other. Here is a paraphrase I wrote of Romans 8 that seeks to bring it out.

8:1,2. So, the conclusion of it all is this: that there is now absolutely no condemnation whatsoever (and neither can there ever be), for those who are in union with Christ Jesus. For, the law of the Spirit of life which is in and through Christ Jesus has liberated you from the law of sin that always leads to failure, defeat and death.

3,4. For what the law could never do (enable us to be right with God, and live righteously because of our sinful flesh) God did Himself, and He did this by sending His own Son in flesh just like ours under the domain of sin, and for sin itself. He then past judgment on sin in the realm of the Flesh, and condemned it once and for all, thereby destroying it’s power, so that now, the righteous requirements of the law might be accomplished in us who walk no longer in the realm of the Flesh (lives lived without reference to God); but now walk in the realm of the Spirit (lives lived in reference to God).

5, 6. For, those who live their lives according to the realm of the Flesh, their thoughts and affections, in fact their whole perspective is shaped by and set on the things of ‘the Flesh,’ but those who live their lives according to the realm of the Spirit, their thoughts and affections indeed their whole perspective is shaped by and set on the things of ‘the Spirit.’ For, the whole inclination and outlook of the realm of the Flesh, is death, but, the whole inclination and outlook of the realm of the Spirit, is life and peace.

7 – 9. The reason is this: the inclination and outlook of the realm of the Flesh is hostile to God, for it is not subject to the law of God, and never can be. So then, those who live in the realm of the Flesh can never please God. But, as for you, you are no longer in the realm of the Flesh and under its power, but in the realm of the Spirit, managed and energised by Him, since the Spirit of God inhabits you. Now if someone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they cannot possibly belong to Him.

10, 11. Now since Christ does reside in you, that means the body is dead because of sin, and yet you have life by the Spirit because of righteousness. Moreover since the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead resides in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to these mortal bodies because of His Spirit who dwells in you.

12 – 16. So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors and have an obligation – but it is certainly not to the realm of the Flesh, to live in keeping with the Flesh. For if you live in keeping with the realm of the Flesh, you are obviously still in the realm of the Flesh, unchanged, fleshly, and you will die; but, if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body by saying no to sin and not giving in to it, you will live. For those who so live are being led by the Spirit of God and show themselves to be true sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of slavery that leads again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of full sonship that enables you to call out with confidence “Abba, Father.” For the Spirit Himself testifies to our spirit that we are children of God.

© R. Burgess 2001 revised 2012