Sunday, 17 January 2016

How to close a letter

Tonight we thought about the fact that Paul closes his magnificent letter to the Romans with a doxology (16:25-27), a clear reminder that we should focus on the greatness of God rather than on the abilities of the gifted Paul. The apostle himself would have desired such a response from everyone. What did he want his readers to experience from God? is a question we should ask because he does focus on several spiritual benefits in his doxology.
The answer to the question is that Paul wanted them to experience divine strength. There are different ways by which we can know God’s power, but the aspect stressed here by Paul is strength through the gospel being declared with the help of Jesus himself. Obviously he does this through his Spirit, but it is still an aspect of the prophetic ministry of Jesus. And this means that while listening to a sermon we can have confidence that we will experience the powerful effects of the gospel.
Paul also wants us to consider the wisdom of God, which is revealed in several ways through the gospel. He showed his wisdom by hiding the gospel throughout the Old Testament, so that when the gospel day arrived with the ascension of Jesus, his people could find him everywhere in the Old Testament. I hope we are discovering this amazing spiritual treasure trove. 
God also showed his wisdom by enabling the kingdom to spread out into the nations in fulfilment of the promise made to Abraham that through his Descendant the nations would be blessed. And that includes us, so we are examples of his wisdom being blest.
In addition, Paul wants us to consider the sovereignty of God. Responding to the gospel positively is an expression of submission to the wonderful fact that God has announced his Son to be Lord of all. Real faith is trust in Jesus as the One who now reigns from God’s throne, having been the crucified Saviour who bore divine judgement on the cross because of our sins.
Moreover, Paul wants us to consider the central role that Jesus will have forever as the Mediator in guaranteeing the eternal praise of the Father. As we think about him doing so, we should admire the endless capability that he will have in ensuring that the countless number of the redeemed will be equipped to participate in this service, and it is important to notice this because, as Paul says earlier, it is through Jesus that we receive strength for the here and now. So if he will never lose his strength in the future, we can be confident that we will receive such strength now through the gospel preached. And we can also remind ourselves of the celebratory nature of his future role as he and his people share in the fruits of his victory forever.

No wonder, Paul closes his letter with ‘Amen!’

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