Bent Out Of Shape – Romans 8.28

Romans 8.28 is often used on social media in posts like this: 

It looks nice, sounds nice, and gives us a warm fuzzy feeling, right? God is working out everything, so everything is gonna be alright. When this verse is misunderstood we can be left feeling that we will have a hassle-free life, a trouble-free life, and a pain-free life. Sadly, this is never promised to us when we put faith in Jesus. 

But, what is promised is that even though we will endure present sufferings(Romans 8.18), each and every experience in our lives, both good and bad, is working together to form the whole. 

Our experiences and challenges together with our sufferings and our losses are never isolated from each other. God has Sovereignly ordained everything to work together for our ultimate good.

“…we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.”

(Romans 8.28-30)

Life is hard, there is no doubt about that. We will experience pain, we will experience loss, and we will experience suffering. But, at the core, we can rejoice even though that may feel so unnatural. We can do this because, ultimately, God is over all, God is directing our steps, and although we may not be able to see it, feel it, or experience it this side of heaven, He is working all things work together for good for those who love God

Romans 8.28 doesn’t guarantee you a a hassle-free life, a trouble-free life, and a pain-free life. It does, however, show us that God is leading us in a good life, a life that Jesus lived, died, and rose to secure (vv.29-30). 

Ecclesiastes 5 – Religion and Wealth

Yesterday at Saar Fellowship we looked at Ecclesiastes 5. The teacher, the main voice we are hearing in the book, talks about religion and wealth: trying to change ourselves from the inside and the out. Will it work?

You can watch the message replay here:

If you’re a podcast person, Ecclesiastes 5 will be on the Saar Fellowship Podcast in a day or so:

Bent Out Of Shape – Ephesians 5.22

In Ephesians 5 Paul has been setting before the church some principles of Christian living. Now, in 5.22, we see a statement that is often bent out of shape:

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,”

Straight away, we see this verse ends with a comma, so it cannot stand by itself. What does Paul go on to say then?

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church (he himself being the savior of the body). But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body, but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

(Ephesians 5.22-33)

Instead of a statement that can be used to buttress and back-up an un-Christlike marriage structure where a husband rules and reigns in his very own house-sized kingdom, here in Ephesians 5 Paul is applying the principles of Christian living to particular situations. In marriage, he says, there ought to be such a high level of mutual love and respect (vv.22-23, 25) that a beautiful circle of selfless love emerges. Wives are to acknowledge the truth that the marriage relationship is an earthly example of a heavenly reality (v.32) and therefore submit to [their] husbands, and at the same time the husband is to love [their] wives just as Christ loved the church. Both parties are to practice selfless submission. Both parties come together in a power union, not a power struggle. There is mutual love and mutual respect in the Christian marriage (v.33) that ultimately points towards the spiritual truth of Christ and the church. 

We see Jesus in almost every verse in this passage, don’t we:

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church (he himself being the savior of the body). But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body, but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

(Ephesians 5.22-33, emphasis added)

This passage in Ephesians 5 is really about what Jesus did for you and how it works itself out in particular situations, here specifically marriage. The bigger picture here is that we are called to submit to Him as our head, and we already know that He loves us, don’t we? We know that He couldn’t have proved His love for us in any greater or more spectacular way. When we know we are loved like this, we have no problem submitting to the leading of that person. Paul is saying, simply, as in the church, so in the home. 

Bent Out Of Shape – Mark 11.24

In Mark 11.20-25 Jesus is following up on something that happened back in vv.12-14. A fig tree that bore no fruit was found to be withered and the disciples were shocked (v.21). Jesus then explains and says, simply, that everything is possible for one who truly believes and lacks doubt (vv.23-23). He then says this:

“For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

(v.24)

So is this a name-and-claim, have-all-you-want kind of verse?

Perhaps it is when detached from context. That’s not how we read the Bible though, is it?

The kind of faith Jesus is talking about in vv.22-23 is an unwavering trust in God that includes His goodness and His provision.

The kind of faith Jesus is talking about in vv.22-23 already knows that prayer and petitions (v.24) must fall in line with God’s revealed will to us (Mark 14.36, Matthew 6.9-10, for example).

The kind of faith Jesus is talking about already knows that God exists for His own glory, not yours, and will pray accordingly ¹.

What do we do with Mark 11.24 then? Is it name-and-claim?

No, but it is a great promise that when we have the kind of unbending trust in God’s goodness and provision that Jesus is talking about here, then we do know that whatever we pray for will be ours.

If we’re praying for new opportunities, help, healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, or more faith, then we know that a good, loving, Sovereign God who works all things together for His glory and our good will move in such as way as to prove His Word true (Romans 8.26-30).

Today then, pray as if you know that God will answer!


¹ – https://jamestravis.net/2020/06/17/pray-big-prayers-glory/

Bent Out Of Shape – 1 Peter 2.9

 1 Peter 2.9 is another great verse. Perhaps you’ve heard it used to try and back up some views on local church leadership (I know I have). Is that what Peter was talking about? 

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

Being bent out of shape here is the phrase “…you are…a royal priesthood…”.

Does this mean that all believers now are to have the role of a priest?

Does this mean that all believers now need to fulfill the role of priests and pastors (Ephesians 4.10-13)?

I don’t think it does. 

1 Peter 2.9 begins with the word but, doesn’t it, so we know he is drawing a contrast. Peter is saying that believers now, both his original readers and you and I, are called to live a life that is different to those who do not believe (look back to v.7). But you, he says, do believe and therefore you have some roles and responsibilities to fulfill. 

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

(emphasis added)

You are chosen by God to have access to Him by faith in Jesus

(Hebrews 10).

You are chosen by God to live a holy, separate from the world, kind of life (1 Peter 1.16).

You are chosen by God to bear His name

(1 Peter 4.16b).

Why are you chosen to do all of this?

“…so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

You are chosen by God to have the access of a priest and the roles and responsibilities of a believer so that you can proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. All that God has chosen you to do is for His glory, His name’s sake, and to fulfill His good and perfect will. 

Yes, we’re called to be a royal priesthood, but you can put down the sacrificial shears and simply focus on living a life that proclaims His virtues!