A Whole New World!
Gracious Father, I pray for a pure heart, a humble heart, a heart of faith, that I may serve You faithfully.
Read Romans 5:12-21
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Before (the lost image of God in humankind) can be restored, that true human reality into which humankind is to be transformed must be visibly set forth…that was accomplished in the life and death of Jesus” (Bishop Stephen Neill).
At school I always loved the moment when we were given new work books. The pristine, unspoiled pages contrasted sharply with the grubby, smudged and dog-eared pages of the old books. Of course, after being lugged around and shoved in lockers day after day, it would not be long before the new books would become just like the old!
In the second part of the summary, ch. 5, Paul is contrasting two stages in the history of humanity. There is a clear sense of symmetry in the contrasts: in place of sin there is righteousness; in place of guilt there is acquittal; in place of death there is life (18-21). But there is also a clear sense of asymmetry: the “upward” direction of what has happened through Jesus the Messiah is so much more than the “downward” direction of what had happened because of humanity’s sinfulness as the race of Adam. New life in the Messiah is so much more than a simple restoration of the original intention of creation; a friendship, broken by hurt and healed by forgiveness, is so much richer than what went before.
Paul here is not concerned with the doctrine of original sin or even the status of the law—a theme he will revisit later in the letter. This new world of humanity is a new world for each individual who is “in the Messiah” (“in Christ”). Thus his language of a new age for humanity parallels his own language of “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17) and Jesus’ language in John of being “born again.” (John 1:13; 3:3). And all this is “gift … gift … gift” (15,16), an expression of the super-abounding (20) grace of God.
What language would you use to describe your experience of God’s grace in Jesus? What language might you use in order to explain this to those who have not experienced it personally yet?
Truly Lord, I was lost, but You found me, I was spiritually blind, but You gave me sight. How I praise You for Your saving and transforming work in my life.