The big picture story of the Bible is more helpful than we may realize—it can encourage us to keep the faith, to love when it’s risky, and to keep going even when things get hard. Things aren’t right, at least not yet. But they will be.
Main Text: Romans 13:8-14
What is the Bible? This is a huge question with many possible answers. We’ll address it from a variety of directions in this series.
For the past few weeks, we’ve thought through Jesus’ statement that all God’s commandments hang on two: love God and love people.
This week, we see Paul pick up the same argument—but we see him bring up implications we haven’t yet considered.
Paul argues that we should love because it’s the summation of God’s law and will for us.
But he also argues that we should love because of our situation in time, in the history of the world.
A helpful way to summarize Paul’s concept of time is that of: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.
These categories can help us understand the big picture of Scripture.
And our awareness of our place in them, after the Fall but before full Restoration, can keep us from losing hope or wandering away from our path of love in the midst of an unloving, unforgiving world.
The scripture references promised in the sermon:
The creation, fall, redemption, restoration paradigm can illuminate the language and cosmology of the New Testament, including many texts we might otherwise overlook that reveal deep assumptions about the state of the world (the cosmos). Seeing all of these together might help us see how the earliest followers of Jesus saw “the time.”
The present world is a mess:
Warns of present evil age (Galatians);
Tells us fight not against flesh and blood but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians);
Warns that the days are evil (Ephesians);
Whole world lies in power of evil one (1 John);
Jesus’ kingdom not of this world (John);
But because of the work of Jesus:
Darkness is passing away and true light is already shining, so let’s walk in this light by loving each other (1 John);
Because of Jesus’ resurrection, God is making us alive. Because of Jesus’ cross, we have forgiveness for all sins—He canceled the record of debt that stood against us along with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. In doing so He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame—He is triumphant! (Colossians 2)
Delivered from domain of darkness to kingdom of the beloved Son (Colossians);
We’ve been called out of darkness into marvelous light (1 Peter);
Jesus now in the heavens w angels, authorities, and powers subjected to Him (1 Peter);
Christ now elevated above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name to be named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians);
Let’s humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that when the time is right He may exalt us. Let’s cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us. But let’s be alert and watchful because our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Let’s resist him, firm in our faith, knowing that this kind of suffering is far from unique. After we’ve suffered just a little while longer, the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. To Him be the dominion forever and ever amen! (1 Peter)
Praise God, the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To Him alone be honor and eternal dominion, amen! (1 Timothy)
Yes to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all times and now and forever, amen. (Jude)