January 2022—are you doing things that no longer require doing and are possibly hindering your change for the better? I’m not just thinking about all the adjustments we’ve made for Covid, but the routines that have become automatic. The beginning of the year is an excellent time to consider why we do what we do when we do it. “Having a routine isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can help you stay organized, be productive, or even, according to some researchers, find meaning…However, not all routines are created equal, and failing to examine or alter our habits can have a limiting or deadening effect on our lives…Moving through a series of them can set us on autopilot throughout our day, which can lead us to lose touch with ourselves and our immediate experience—be it sensory or emotional. For example, scrolling through our phone on our morning train commute can seem pretty innocuous, but we may be missing out on sights, sounds, or even smells that would enliven us in some way, inspire a specific feeling, or spark our imagination. Similarly, the list of items we pressure ourselves to include in our evening routine may be taking up time we could use to connect with loved ones. Whatever our habit patterns may be, it’s worth considering the ways in which they may be cutting us off from a more vital way of engaging with the world [or with God]. A particular routine may make us feel more secure or unchallenged, muting some of our fears around uncertainty. However, it may also be closing us off to our sense of awe, curiosity, or excitement…There are tangible ways to strike a balance between making our daily life feel calm and stable and opening ourselves up to new and energizing experiences…We may explore what it would mean to break out of a fixed identity or a role we impose upon ourselves.” (1) The author of this article refers to routines in our functional roles as father, mother, wife, daughter, son, boss, student, business owner, or minister. But what about our roles as children of the living God—the son or daughter of Jesus Christ? Do our lives and routines reflect our blessedness in “Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever” (Romans 9:5)?
Jesus is God
The apostle Paul opens his letter to the believers in Rome with a confession of Christ’s deity… “who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ…” (Romans 1:1-6) If we are going to ascribe God’s blessedness to Christ, we must first recognize that he is fully God. James Boice helps us understand why this is not more explicit in Scripture. “There is an obvious reticence among the New Testament writers to say starkly that ‘Jesus is God,’ and for good reason. Without explanation, a statement like this might be understood as teaching that God left heaven in order to come to earth in the person of the human Jesus, leaving heaven without his presence. Each of the New Testament writers knew that this is not an accurate picture. Each was aware of the doctrine of the Trinity, according to which God is described as being one God but existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Since Jesus is the Son of God, it was customary for them to call him that, rather than simply ‘God,’ reserving the unembellished word God for God the Father. This is why Jesus is not often called God explicitly. Yet, although it is unusual to find Jesus called God for the reasons just given, it is not the case that he is never called God. We think of the Gospel of John, for instance. At the very beginning of that Gospel…’the Word’ is identified as Jesus…(1:1-2)…[and] in Thomas’s great confession, which is the Gospel’s spiritual climax. ‘Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”‘ (20:28).…Hebrews 1:8 calls Jesus ‘God’ by applying Psalm 45:6–7 to him: ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’…[and] in Titus 2:13–14, where Paul writes, ‘We wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ’…Like many other commentators and Bible teachers, I find Romans 9:5 to be one of the most sublime testimonies to the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ in all the Bible.’” (2)
Christ is Blessed Forever
In Romans 9, Paul expresses his deep sorrow for his Jewish brothers and sisters who do not know Christ. After all, “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever.” (9:4-5) Paul not only affirmed the blessed and eternal deity of Jesus Christ but lived as a man who was blessed forever by Jesus Christ’s divine saving grace, wishing that others would also be redeemed in Christ. John Piper was tremendously affected by Paul’s testimony in Romans 9:5. “I was on sabbatical from teaching at Bethel College. My one aim on this leave was to study Romans 9 and write a book on it that would settle, in my own mind, the meaning of these verses. After six years of teaching and finding many students in every class ready to discount my interpretation of this chapter for one reason or another, I decided I had to give eight months to it. The upshot of that sabbatical was the book, The Justification of God. I tried to answer every important exegetical objection to God’s absolute sovereignty in Romans 9. But the result of that sabbatical was utterly unexpected―at least by me…what I did not expect was that six months into this analysis of Romans 9 God himself would speak to me so powerfully that I resigned my job at Bethel and made myself available to the Minnesota Baptist Conference if there were a church who would have me as a pastor…As I studied Romans 9 day after day, I began to see a God so majestic and so free and so absolutely sovereign that my analysis merged into worship and the Lord said, in effect, ‘I will not simply be analyzed, I will be adored. I will not simply be pondered, I will be proclaimed. My sovereignty is not simply to be scrutinized, it is to be heralded…The God of Romans 9 has been the Rock-solid foundation of all I have said and all I have done in the last 22 years.” (3) We, like Paul and Piper, are to live as those who are are blessed forever by Jesus Christ’s divine saving grace.
The Blessedness of Christ is Ours
“That which establishes souls, is, the plain preaching of Jesus Christ. Our redemption and salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, are, without controversy, a great mystery of godliness…the gospel is revealed, not to be talked of and disputed about, but to be submitted to…all the glory that passes from fallen man to God, so as to be accepted of him, must go through the Lord Jesus, in whom alone our persons and doings are, or can be, pleasing to God…Remembering that we are called to the obedience of faith, and that every degree of wisdom is from the only wise God, we should, by word and deed, render glory to him through Jesus Christ; that so the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be with us for ever.” (4) Through humility and submission to Christ, we live as those who are blessed. Do we? Or are we moving through these first days of 2022 on autopilot? “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)
Related Scripture: Psalm 102:27; Romans 1:24-25; 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Colossians 1:16-19; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; Revelation 4:11; 5:12; 7:9-12.
- Firestone, Lisa, “Why It’s Important to Break Routines, Psychology Today,” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201910/why-it-s-important-break-routines
- Boice, James, “Boice Expositional Commentary Series,” Romans 9:5 , Baker Books, Software version, 1998.
- Piper, John, “The Sermons of John Piper, The Absolute Sovereignty of God: What Is Romans Nine About?” Romans 9:1-5, 2002, http://www.desiringgod.com
- Henry, Matthew, “Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, Romans 16:25-27, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/romans-16.html
January 13, 2022