Thursday, 8 June 2017

From the Greater to the Lesser

Preaching Daily to The Soul

We have had occasion recently to think upon one of the more famous passages in the Pauline library: namely Romans 8: 31-39.  This is one of those passages which demands it be firmly anchored into its context, lest it be twisted by perverted minds.

The reason why context is so important is the otherwise unqualified, open-ended nature of the initial promise:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  [Romans 8: 31-32]
This is a favorite text of the Prosperity Gospellers.  "Look, mate.  You want that swanky car?  God will give it to you if you believe with faith of sufficient quantity and quality.  Does it not say that God will give you all things?  Oh, and since God is going to give you all this, you are freed up to give me what you do have."

Since old-style theological and biblical liberalism has departed to the plains of Moab whence it came, and is left bubbling in the cauldrons of radical pomo agnosticism, the Church is left to contend with idiots who preach the gospel of money.  The Prosperity Gospellers are a great curse upon our times.  Their avarice and distortion of texts such as the passage in Romans above must be exposed and utterly rejected.

But before we move on to let the context tell us what Paul has in mind when he penned these words, it's worth noting the logical argument he employs to force the truth into our hearts.  He uses the device of reasoning from the greater to the lesser.  Since God did not spare His own Son in working our salvation, it is impossible that He would fail to give us all (lesser) things.

This represents a "four square" meal to every Christian struggling to keep hunger from the door.  We can construct all kinds of applications that are relevant to our afflictions, turning the argument back to our Lord in faith and prayer.  "Since you have not spared your only Son in saving me, I know that you will provide all that I need to live and serve you."

But the wider context here is affliction, persecution, and suffering.  To be sure, this includes the affliction which comes from within--our grief and bitterness over our sins and unfaithfulness--as well as the sufferings which come from the lingering influences of a fallen world, such as sickness, disease, and death.  We face a whole cluster of enemies (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and the sword) which are gradually being beaten down and conquered.  The last enemy which will be utterly spent and broken is death.

In these afflictions, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, despite the fact that many people, authorities and circumstances bring charges and accusations against us.  
Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

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: 33-39]
Now, to reinforce the point, Paul goes on to describe one of the realities he faces which causes deep anguish to him (and also to us).  The blindness of his Jewish brethren to Christ causes him "great sorrow and unceasing anguish" [Romans 9: 1-3].  Yet the knowledge that through Christ God was constrained and bound to love him forever comforted him and kept him going.

Such truths need to be proclaimed by us, to ourselves, daily.   It is as we believe such unbreakable truths that we are enabled to persevere, amidst much weakness, suffering and opposition.

The Prosperity Gospellers are a fraud.  Our advice is to have nothing to do with them.  They have their reward in this world . . . only.

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