Sometimes I go back and read a book I meant to read in the past or one I should have read in the past. Such was the case recently with Derek Thomas’ How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home, an explanation and celebration of Romans chapter 8 which is without doubt one of the most celebrated and significant chapters in all of the Bible. If you know this chapter you know the heart of the Bible. If you know this chapter you know the gospel.
No chapter of Scripture reaches the same sustained levels or covers the same ground as Romans 8. It is a description of the Christian life from death to life, from justification to glorification, from trial and suffering to the peace and tranquility of the new heaven and new earth. It contains exhortations to persevere as well as reassurances of God’s preservation of His people. And no chapter has been cited more than this one in expounding the application of redemption in the life of an individual (the ordo salutis). In short, Romans 8 gives us a picture of salvation in its completeness. For this reason, I have titled this little book How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home.
Here are a few choice quotes that I hope will spark your interest in reading and studying Romans 8 and perhaps even picking up a copy of Thomas’s book:
- There are only two ways of salvation: by the law or by grace. If salvation is to happen by the law, perfect obedience is necessary. There can be no blemishes or shortcomings, for the law will never show mercy. It knows nothing of grace or forgiveness. It demands perfection, because whoever transgresses in one tiny detail transgresses the whole of God’s law. … It is vitally important to grasp exactly how much the law demands if we think we are going to be in a right relationship with God through law-keeping
- The law cannot put us in a right standing with God. It knows how to do only one thing: condemn us. It is relentless and unforgiving in this task. It is not because the law itself is sinful or desires our condemnation. The law says, ‘Do this and live,’ but we cannot. The problem lies in us, not in the law. The law is good but we are sinful. In other words, the law is ‘weakened by the flesh’ (Rom. 8:3). It is not the law that is at fault. The problem lies in our inability to do what the law demands.
- Even in the midst of worship, we find our minds wandering and our hearts engaged in something (or someone) else. Our greatest sins occur in church.
- Even as mature Christians, we need to remind ourselves continually of the basis of our acceptance—it is entirely because of what Christ has done for us. Thus, faith in Christ is not a onetime event; we must live by faith each day.
- Grateful law-keeping is the saved sinner’s response to received grace. The rest of our lives are a way of saying, ‘Thank you.’
- Grace must raise the temptation to think we can sin as we please; if it does not, we have not understood the true extent of grace.
- The key to subduing the downward drag of sin in our lives is to know the impulse of gratitude that follows the experience of forgiveness and reconciliation. Law-keeping out of love is the true path of holiness.
- A relentless anti-God energy is at work in the minds of unbelievers, distracting, deceiving, and dragging down every thought into a grave.
- There must be a radical destruction of sin. Kill it; strangle it; starve it of oxygen until it cannot breathe again. There is no other way.
- Unless our motivation in pursuing holiness is gospel-based and grace-centered, our efforts toward holiness become attempts to win God’s favor.
- The word legalism is overused. Sometimes I tell my students at the seminary where I teach that they may use this word once a year and no more.
- Being able to say, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6) is the heart of Christianity and our greatest privilege.
- Our faith is not the ground of God’s love. God’s love—eternal love—is the ground of our faith.
- Nothing can blow you over when you are inside the walls of Romans 8:28. Outside of Romans 8:28 all is confusion and anxiety and fear and uncertainty.
- Our salvation is bound up not in something intangible and impersonal, but in a person-in Jesus Christ.