Power on the Shelf?

To noodle on the idea of power is one thing . . . to meditate on the power of God takes it to a whole next level. You might consider the power of God as exerted in Creation. The world spoken into existence. Or you might consider His power displayed in Egypt as He delivered His people from heart-hardened Pharaoh. Commander of the elements . . . Protector of His people. From staffs turned into serpents . . . to hailstones called down only on certain geographic locations . . . to an angel of death directed to pass over those covered by the blood . . . to the Red Sea being parted for the people to pass . . . the presence of God was known through magnificent, awe-inspiring power. And this morning, as I start into Romans, I am reminded of perhaps the greatest portrayal of the the power of God . . . the gospel.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”   (Romans 1:16-17 ESV)

The original word is dunamis . . . referring to something with “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its very nature.” The gospel of God (1:1), by it’s very nature, is power. The gospel of His Son (1:9), at its very essence, possesses a mighty dynamic. It is power manifest in a righteousness made known to those who are unrighteous . . . who, in their own strength, are incapable, or powerless, of being righteous. Thus, their just standing before a holy God is no standing at all. Dead in sins apart from God’s power . . . enslaved by the passions of the flesh unless delivered by a stronger master . . . they are without hope. But the dunamis of the gospel, a righteousness through faith, makes alive the dead and frees those in bondage.

It is a power sourced in the substitutionary work of Another. A might found in the abundant grace of a God who loved the world to such an extent that He offered His Son as the once-for-all atoning sacrifice for our sin. And it is the power of God for salvation. And yet I wonder how often we leave power on the shelf.

I think it’s because often we have such a limited view of salvation. A view of it being a once-and-done decision that occurs in the past of the Christian. Having received Him by faith, we were saved by the power of the gospel. Having secured eternal life we move on from the gospel. But what if our salvation is something more than a past event? What if it is an on-going dynamic? Then isn’t the gospel the power of God for those aspects of salvation as well? I’m thinkin’ . . .

If, just as we WERE saved from the penalty of sin, we are now BEING saved from the power of sin through the Spirit’s active work of conforming in us the image of the Son, isn’t the gospel the power of God for that too? Isn’t it the dunamis, available by God’s overflowing grace through faith, for us pilgrims seeking to walk the walk worthy of our calling? And, isn’t there a sense in which we WILL BE saved from the presence of sin when we meet the Lord? And isn’t our hope, as His Bride, that the Bridegroom will present us to Himself without wrinkle and spot through the power of the gospel. Through the might of His finished work . . . through His Sovereign determination . . . a determination founded on a risen Savior, mediated by a forever High Priest . . . the God who loves us and has called us to be saints will, one day, bring us to Himself? Again, I’m thinkin’ . . .

So why would we leave power on the shelf? Why wouldn’t I read Romans this morning and embrace the power of the gospel for working out my salvation today as much as I clung to it when I secured salvation (or when salvation secured me) in the past?

The gospel is the power of God for salvation . . . yesterday, today, and forever. Off the shelf . . . into myself.

For His glory . . .

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