Bible Passages

Dying to Change - Romans 6-8 (Part 1)

The first issue we explored from Paul’s letter to the Romans was the meaning and message of the gospel—in Romans 1-5.

In this study, I want to offer a reminder of Paul’s message about choices and behaviors of those who are following God because of the gospel. Romans 6-8 moves from the issues of salvation to the issues of transformation of a believer—since God’s purpose in salvation wasn’t simply to change where we go when we die, but how we live in the “here and now.”

Paul taught in the middle section of the Epistle to the Romans that believers are to be transformed because they have completed their old life, died, and now have a new life to live.

Let’s start by admitting the obvious: ”Death changes many things.” Finally, we don’t have to pay taxes anymore when we die. People can send whatever bill they want to us—and not only are we not going to pay it, no one expects us to do so. Death makes our old obligations null and void. That may sound so obvious that it is really stupid, but the fact is that the center section of Romans was dedicated to that single idea: When you surrendered to Jesus—you “died” as your own master and turned your life and direction over to Jesus, so you don’t have the same obligations you had before to serve self and sin.

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Got Milk?

The Bible sometimes uses the same imagery to teach a variety of things. For example, the lion is used to represent the Messiah (Revelation 5:5) and Satan (1 Peter 5:8). Jesus is the Morning Star (Revelation 22:16); He will give faithful believers the Morning Star (Revelation 2:28), and Lucifer means “Morning Star” (Isaiah 14:12).

Marriage is another example of imagery used to illustrate different relationships. The church is betrothed and will be married to Jesus (Revelation 19:7), Israel will be married to the Lord (Hosea 2:19-20), yet Israel will also be married to a destination, the Land of Israel (Isaiah 62:4). Revelation 21:2 suggests believers who are married to Jesus will also be married to a destination: the New Jerusalem.

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The Viewpoint of Ecclesiastes: Cynicism or Realism?

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2012. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Qoheleth, the author of Ecclesiastes,1 looked at the various areas of life and concluded that everything was vanity.2 He started (1:2) and ended (12:8) his writing by stating, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Is vanity, however, the theological message of Ecclesiastes? Or should it be understood in a more positive light? Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, co-authors of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, take differing views: “[one of us] understands Ecclesiastes to be an expression of cynical wisdom, which serves as a kind of ‘foil’ regarding an outlook on life that should be avoided; [the other one of us] understands the book more positively, as an expression of how one should enjoy life under God in a world in which all die in the end.”3 So is Ecclesiastes a warning to us of the vanity of life outside of a relationship with God or a message of how one can enjoy life despite its vanity?

Qoheleth, the Foil

Those who understand Ecclesiastes to be a foil (i.e., a contrast to the rest of the Bible’s teachings) interpret the majority of the book as “a brilliant, artful argument for the way one would look at life—if God did not play a direct, intervening role in life and if there were no life after death.”4 Ecclesiastes 12:13 and 14 is then understood as “a corrective, orthodox warning.”5 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.”

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