N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 73 (Putting to Death the Deeds of the Body)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:12-13

(Rom. 8:12-13 ESV)  12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 

This is a warning against falling away. After all, those who are in the Spirit live by the Spirit and fulfill the Torah of the Spirit of Life. Up to this point, Paul has spoken of two realms, two kingdoms, one in which Sin and Death reign through our fleshly natures and one in which Jesus is King and the Spirit is possessed. If we live according to the flesh, we have changed realms and rulers — and eternal fates.

Paul doesn’t go into much detail as to what living according to the flesh might mean. He instead speaks positively of what it means to live according to the Spirit: it’s to “put to death the deeds of the body.” That is, it’s to grow in holiness. As we allow the Spirit to defeat sin in our lives, we become more and more like Jesus and remain in the Spirit’s realm — saved. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 72 (the Indwelling Spirit)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:8-11

(Rom. 8:8-11 ESV)  8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead [will not be granted immortality] because of [Sin], the Spirit is [eternal] life because of righteousness [God’s faithfulness to the covenants].  11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give [eternal] life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Paul continues to describe the world in stark terms. Either you have the Spirit and so have immortality or else you are “in the flesh” and so mortal. That is, the saved and those who possess the Spirit are the same people. The damned and those who don’t have the Spirit are the same people.

Beginning in v. 9, Paul introduces the concept of the Spirit dwelling in the Christian. The Greek is oikeō, meaning to reside in a place. Some translations use “live,” which adds unnecessary ambiguity. The thought is one of taking up residence, not merely being there. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 71 (Submitting to God’s Torah)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:7

(Rom. 8:7 ESV) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

(Rom. 8:7 NET) because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so.

(Rom. 8:7 HCSB) For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so.

In this verse, Paul simply summarizes what he’d already said in chapter 7. The “outlook of the flesh” speaks to the lost, those not “in Christ Jesus” (8:1).

Wright insists that we should read “law of God” as the Torah of God, to be consistent with the earlier chapters, but we should understand Torah in a new way. Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 70 (a Mind Set on the Spirit)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:5

(Rom. 8:5 ESV)  5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

(Rom. 8:5 NET) For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.

(Rom. 8:5 NIV) Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

As the ESV translates, Paul seems to emphasize a decision by the individual to focus on the Spirit rather than the flesh. The onus is plainly placed on the Christian. However, the Greek doesn’t say that. Continue reading

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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Part 10

Aaron Earls has posted on global Christianity trends in an article at the Facts and Trends blog. We Americans have a tendency to assume that the USA is the world, and so we think that what happens here determines how the rest of the world thinks and behaves. But the fact is that we are but one nation out of many, and most Christians live somewhere else.

10. More non-Christians will have Christian friends.

As local believers grow in number, more non-Christians will be acquainted with or have friends who are Christians. In 1900, only 5.6 percent of the world’s non-Christians knew a Christian. That will climb to 18.4 percent in 2017 and near 20 percent by 2050.

Again, I’m just blown away by this information. Who knew? Of course, this only matters if the Christian friends care enough to talk to their non-Christian friends about Jesus. In the US, the post-modern mood makes this less common than it once was, but in foreign countries, the cultures are different and the social barriers to personal evangelism are sometimes much lower (and sometimes much higher). Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 69 (walking according to the Spirit)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Romans 8:3-4

(Rom. 8:3-4 ESV)  3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for [a sin offering], he condemned sin in the flesh,  4 in order that the righteous requirement [verdict of innocence] of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We’ve already considered Paul’s treatment of the crucifixion as a sin offering and God’s condemning of sin in the flesh of Jesus. We’ve also considered that the “righteous requirement of the law” refers to the verdict of “innocent” that the Torah demands and which is met thanks to the crucifixion.

What we haven’t yet covered is “who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Anyone who’s read much of the Bible knows that “walk” is a conventional Hebrew idiom for one’s manner of life. How we live our lives is how we “walk.” After all, the First Century, horses were for the military and the very wealthy. Most people traveled by walking. If you went to market, to your job, to visit relatives, or even across three Roman provinces to be counted in a census, you walked — and so tying one’s daily life to walking made sense in those days. Continue reading

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10 Key Trends in Global Christianity, Part 9

Aaron Earls has posted on global Christianity trends in an article at the Facts and Trends blog. We Americans have a tendency to assume that the USA is the world, and so we think that what happens here determines how the rest of the world thinks and behaves. But the fact is that we are but one nation out of many, and most Christians live somewhere else.

9. Missionaries are growing slowly.

In 2017, there will be 430,000 international missionaries—up from 420,000 in 2000. While up dramatically from 62,000 in 1900, the growth rate (0.54 percent) is less than half the population growth rate as a whole (1.21 percent).

It’s astonishing that international missions are doing so well with so (relatively) few missionaries. What’s the likelihood long term? Well, the economics point to more missionaries, I think. Continue reading

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