Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

Awaiting the New Day
Introduction

Dear ones,

God's Peace to you all!


Last week and over the weekend, we had the privilege to spend time at the annual convention of the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America in Upper Michigan. It was a blessed time during which we were exposed to the hearing of the Word of God for a number of days, spent time in prayer with others, had opportunity to renew acquaintances as well as to make new friends, discussed various topics in meetings which relate to the ongoing as well as future operations of our ALCA, and all in all, came back from there thankful, encouraged, optimistic and inspired toward the future. Thankful to be a part of our ALCA, encouraged by the Word which pointed to the unity that we have in Jesus Christ, optimistic towards the future of the larger group of which we are a part of, and inspired to consider as to how I/we may continue to be a positive and fruitful part of the beloved heritage that we have been reared and nurtured in. This meditation gives us opportunity to reflect on that which the Lord has done for us, how He lives in us by His Spirit and how hope lifts us over the struggles and difficulties that are with us in this present world. Therefore by seeing ourselves through God's eyes, we live individual lives of faith, lives that are connected to Jesus Christ by this faith and which are connected together with one another by and in the Holy Spirit. Our meditation is from Romans 8:12-25.


Our Present Life in the Spirit

The word "therefore" causes us to look at the previous verses so that we will understand what has been said to this point in previous verses and thereby keep our meditation in context. As the Apostle struggles with the warfare that goes on in his life between the spirit (the new man, born/renewed of the Spirit) and the flesh (the old man, fallend, carnal nature), at the closing part of the 7th chapter, he cries out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" and he answers his question with "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (7:25) He then goes onto say, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (8:1-2)

The presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit indicates that we are free from the law of sin and death, and in fact, have been freed by that "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." We might say the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed us from the guilt and the power of sin, the law. The law accuses us and condemns us, for we cannot do that which it commands, but the life-giving Spirit ministers grace and truth to us through Jesus Christ, the Gospel. In Him we have grace and forgiveness, a revelation that comes from God through His Spirit through Jesus Christ.. In the next verses which lead up to our text, he contrasts the life in the Spirit and the life in the flesh, and pointing out very clearly this: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (8:9)

"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." 8:10-11)

So, therefore, since we are indwelt by God Himself, by Christ Himself, by the Holy Spirit Himself, we do not owe anything to the flesh, for it is as Paul says in another place, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world".(Galatians 6:14) The world, our flesh, and the devil have lost their power over us, we do not owe them anything, and therefore, we do not give anyone our allegiance but Christ, our King.

Living after the flesh, i.e. living in an attitude of compromise and acceptance into our hearts and lives of that which is contrary to God's written and revealed will, living in our carnal nature will bring death, but if through the power of the life-giving Spirit we deaden the deeds of the body, we will live. That is what it says, period. This is a difficult passage to interpret and to understand in the light of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. For one could easily draw the conclusion that one is justified through personal obedience. That is not the case, for this verse must be understood more from the context of result rather than a condition. What does this mean? "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (8:12-13)

Since we have been freed from the law of sin and death (8:2) by the life-giving Spirit of Christ, we are no longer under the power of sin and death, for we "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. "(Galatians 2;20) As a result of Christ's work on the cross, (grace); through our acknowledgment of sin (repentance); and our believing of the Gospel (faith), we are indwelt by Christ's Spirit, the same Spirit by which He arose from the dead, and which now lives in us. (8:11) Therefore, as a result of God's grace toward us, we are no longer a slave to self, to sin, to the world, to the devil, but we are a slave to Christ, called to to His bidding and will. This is what is meant by result and not condition. We mortify our members because we are in the Spirit, but we do not mortify our members to get the Spirit. This brings us to the next thought of this meditation, that our being indwelt by the Spirit is evidenced inwardly/outwardly by four characteristics:


1) A life that is set apart from one who lives in the flesh
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

2) Sonship
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

3) Living in the spirit of freedom and not of fear as adopted children
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

4) As children of God, we have an inheritance which is characterized by suffering
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.



Our Future Glory as God's Children

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth (like labor pains of childbirth) in pain together until now.

Suffering is the pathway to glory, and even as Jesus suffered for the glory of the Father, we also are called to suffer with Him through being united in Him and being identified with Him. We will suffer in this present world but he greatness of the glory that awaits us is so great that to compare the two is not possible, but rather our suffering in this life is to be contrasted with the glory that will be revealed in us in heaven.

Paul then uses the natural created order to to illustrate the concept of suffering and glory.
He addresses the past, the future and goes back to the present. He does this for a reason as we will see, but before that we must recognize and understand that the earth runs just like God wants it to run. He writes that the creation was made to be subject to vanity by God for his purposes, (The creation did not impose the curse on itself) so also God subjected the earth to hope of the new creation, the new heaven and the new earth. For the earth is now slave to rot, to decay, to falling down.

We see signs of the new created order in the growing season, in perennial plants, in trees, in corn crops, alfafa and in soybeans. They remind us that a better day is coming, when we will be living in total glory, and that forever and forever. The earth itself preaches this new day to us. In our verses, we are told that God caused the earth to be a dying planet, that this will not always be the case, for there is a new and brighter day coming!!! The earth groans for the Sons of God to be revealed, for that is its purpose, to serve as a means by which God brought forth into existence His plan of salvation through being born in the flesh, i.e. Christ in the flesh, God with us. The earth has no existence for itself, but serves its creator.

He now applies the lesser to the greater, from the natural to the spiritual, by pointing out five things that should encourage as we live the life in the Spirit in the here and now but awaiting "the bright and glorious day." Here are the verses:

23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan/sigh within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.


1) We have the First fruits of Spirit (first gleanings of the harvest, with the promise that more is to come, or, like an earnest money, a down payment on the house, which is a promise for the final purchase), which means that there is more to come, the greater realization and experience is to come!!

2) We groan inwardly, which reminds us of our incompleteness on this side of glory as we experience pain and uncertainty, as we sigh both in our pain and long for the relief in glory.

3) We wait for the final adoption, the ultimate adoption. Here everything is a foretaste, a teaser we might say, for the best is yet to come. "For our conversation/life is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Philippians 3:20-21

4) We live in hope, an expectant hope. We believe in and we trust in the promises of God. May we be reminded that we are not there yet, but God's promises are true and steadfast!

5) We live in patience for the fulfilment of our hope in Him. In the midst of our trials, our health issues, our family troubles, our worries and fears, we are to wait patiently for the timing of God in bringing all things to His glorious end, From first fruits to harvest, From bbondage to freedom, from decay to incorruption, from labor pains to birth, and from suffering to glory.

May we be in peace today, being reminded that we are not yet there, that God is totally in control of the world and its events, and He will bring all things to His end. We have the promise of the Spirit to keep us focused on the future, we have the natural creation around us to remind us that we are not there yet, (but yet in the midst of decay and rot, we see new life the spring) and we have His promise that there is a better day coming.

May the amazing grace of God be upon all this day through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.

Together in Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala


Posted on 17 Jul 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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