Hovering over a couple of verses in the last part of Romans 15 this morning. Coming to terms with some terms of salvation.
But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience — by word and deed . . .
(Romans 15:15-18 ESV)
Offering and obedience. Hmmm . . . those aren’t terms we often lead with when we share the good news. Believe the gospel and be an offering to God. Receive Jesus and be obedient in word and deed. Doesn’t have the same ring to it as God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
I’m not saying God doesn’t love the sinner and that He doesn’t have a plan which is wonderful, for all that God does is full of wonder. I’m just noodling on the fact that I think we’ve tended to shy away from language related to sacrifice and submission over the past generation and thus perhaps have weakened the gospel by trying to remove some of the offense of the gospel. Naturally speaking, I’m more likely to sign up for a wonderful life than for being an offering to God and obedient to God.
And I wonder if we haven’t sought to be “seeker sensitive” and “seeker friendly” — and downplay taking up a cross, dying to self, and becoming a bond servant for Christ — because, before that, we may have hammered too often on sacrifice and submission as the responsibility of believing rather than the natural, supernatural response of believing. That somehow, we communicated that now that you’re saved you gotta buckle down and be sanctified.
But the reading of today’s text indicates that being set apart as an offering, that being sanctified, happens by the Holy Spirit. That to be brought to obedience is something that Christ has accomplished. That far from being the burden to bear when we come to faith in Christ, it is the fruit that is born because of faith in Christ. Sacrifice and submission being less something we need to make happen and more something we are to let happen as the Son of God lives through us by the Spirit of God in us.
Let happen, but not as in do nothing and passively wait for holiness to take hold. Instead to see myself as an offering to God, recognizing up front that I have been purchased with a price and I’m no longer my own. And to know that, having already obeyed the gospel by receiving and believing the good news by the grace of God, I’ve been saved to continue to obey by the grace of God. By faith, wanting to do in the Spirit what I could never do when controlled by the flesh. Pursuing the knowledge of Christ, abiding in the love of Christ, and living for the glory of Christ, because it’s how I’ll flourish in Christ. Offering and obedience viewed as part of the benefit of believing and less as a burden of believing.
Terms of salvation are important. Offering and obedience, by the Holy Spirit and through the Risen Son, are to be embraced. They are the fruit of salvation, the logical outcome of new creations being conformed to the likeness of Christ. Not something we must do to stay saved, but something we want to do because we have been saved.
Only by His grace. Only for His glory.