Through the Bible in a Year – February 28

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Exodus 37-38; Romans 8; Psalm 76

The announcement of the Gospel is writ throughout all of scripture – but the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, puts it as well and completely as anywhere else.

Here we discover the announcement that God has done what the LAw weakened by sinful flesh could never do, sending his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to condemn sin in the flesh, that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in those who walk not according to the flesh but the Spirit.

The Christian life is announced as Life in the Spirit – the Spirit of Christ – who makes us God’s children. That as Christ comes to us in the likeness of sinful flesh – so our true likeness, our true image is restored. He took upon himself our nature – this is no mere ‘incarnational’ theology, in the sense of him coming among us, no he took upon himself our condition – being like us in every respect, yet without sin. Thus his Life is the condemnation of Sin in the flesh, and the power of God for all who believe.

The evidence of this is our being led by the Spirit of God – living lives that seemingly are like the wind, whose direction is strange to those amongst whom we live, blowing seemingly where it will, and yet always with our eyes on the one who is our Father. And Paul goes further.

This life will see the future redemption of our bodies -and indeed all of Creation – that the two are inextricably linked.

Whilst we flap around trying to come up with solutions to the ecological crisis, no one is heard to cry, ‘but our true need is a renewed humanity’. The true freedom of Creation is inextricable linked with the true freedom of the children of God.

Finally Paul announces the complete and utter triumph of God in his exultant poem to Divine Love – that which is like a great Wind – coming to rearrange the landscape of all creation, and even now living and active amongst his children, the Church.

Through the Bible in a Year – February 2

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Job 20-21; Acts 8; Psalm 41

Out of death comes Life. As the early church readily testified, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. And at first it seems that everything is getting darker. Although the Life of the Risen one is so manifest amongst them, death is still a tragedy – loud lamentation is called for. The Resurrection stands before the tomb of Lazarus and weeps.

We live in an age which so seemingly devoid of Life, that often people will quote ‘death is nothing at all’, but this is chloroform to the senses and the Life in the Spirit.

And so the blood of the first witness (martyr), scatters the seed of the gospel – and as it is one of the seven set apart to serve at tables who has been chosen first to follow Christ in death, so another of the servants Philip who spreads the word in Samaria. In the early church, the ordinary table waiters are those who are also called to bold witness. And we have the dramatic encounter between Simon the magician and the apostles.

After the apostles discover that the word is bearing fruit Peter and John are sent and pray over those already baptised in the name of Jesus (perhaps those referred to in John 4:1?), that they might receive the Holy Spirit. But Simon is captivated by the signs – and money. For him money and magic are closely related as they are today – more precisely power and money. Money confers Power, money buys power – but the sharpest of divisions is drawn between the Life of God and that conferred by Mammon – Silver and Gold have I none. The destitute apostles are full of the Holy Spirit. As with Ananias and Sapphira, our values are so distorted by our culture that we find Peter’s response to Simon harsh. But Peter divines truly – those captivated by money and its power are still in chains of wickedness . . . there are perhaps few amongst us to whom the Lord would not say, ‘Unless you give up your possessions you cannot be my disciple’.