“Now to Him who is able to establish you according to the gospel … to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:25a, 27)
It’s Saturday; the day between Friday and Sunday; the quiet day between death and life; the day of preparation and expectation. And we come to the last three verses of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome.
What powerful words to close this liturgical season. “God establishes us. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
Paul’s epistle ends where it began.
Romans 1:1-2 starts with “the gospel promised beforehand through the prophets in the Holy Scripture.” Romans 16:25-26 wraps it up with reference to “the gospel revealed by the Scriptures of the prophets.” Good news, from start to finish. In between, we deal with sin and death and covenants and conflict. But the bookends of the epistle — indeed, the bookends of our lives — is Gospel. The Gospel gives everything meaning. It changes our perspectives, our lives, and our destinies.
God uses the Gospel to establish us. Gospel is how we live on Saturdays. Gospel makes sense of Friday deaths and Sunday hopes. Gospel provides confidence. Gospel lifts us from despair.
When we feel beaten, defeated, and broken, there’s Gospel. When everything around is shaking, wobbling, or collapsing, there’s Gospel. When we fail, fall, or fumble, there’s Gospel.
It wraps around this powerful letter to the Romans. It courses through the letter. And it does the same for our lives.
Gospel everywhere; light breaking into darkness; good news transforming despair.
What is this life-giving, life-shaping, life-changing Gospel? It is the powerful message that those who trust Christ with all of their lives for all of their lives, rest securely in the hands of God; that we are the beloved children of God and nothing can separate us from that love (Romans 8:38-39).
Whether we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, or wander aimlessly on the paths of apathy; whether we face opposition and persecution, or find ourselves touched by the demons of depression; good news abounds. Nothing can quench it, minimize it, or change it. And as we respond to this good news, God establishes us.
Saturday people are in process. Saturday people are recovering from Friday’s grief and preparing for Sunday’s glory. God is reforming us, transforming us, and establishing us. Despite appearances, the grave has not won. Christ is not defeated. The future has not collapsed. Hope must not be abandoned. Sunday’s coming.
All glory to God now…and then…and for eternity. Amen.