For the last two months, I’ve been working on memorizing the book of Romans. It’s become the lens through which I look at the world. So here at the end of 2017, this is what Romans tells me will happen next year. Some of these predictions are rosy, some of them aren’t, but all of them flow from the massive realities of the book of Romans:
The wrath of God will continue being poured out on this nation.
2017 has been a rocky year, to say the least. We might be tempted to throw our hands up in the air and wonder where God is in all the chaos. But Romans challenges us with a difficult answer: God is in the chaos, and not in a good way. The upheaval, the embrace of evil, the love of many growing cold, the falsehood ascendant in our politics and our churches, is the wrath of God. It’s not just a reason for God’s judgment, it is God’s judgment. In response to our evil exchange of God’s glory and truth for the fake news of our preferred idols, God’s judgment is to give us what we want. “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind, to do what ought not to be done.” (1:28) Tremble when you turn on the news. This is us getting what we deserve. And it will continue in 2018.
I will have undeserved access to grace.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (5:1-2) Against the backdrop of judgment, this is unspeakably good news for a sinner like me! I have peace where there was once enmity, access where there was once alienation, confidence where there was once condemnation. Come what may, this won’t change next year. Praise God!
Creation will continue groaning in the pains of childbirth.
Earthquakes. Floods. Wars and rumors of war. The angry thrashings of an out of control world are evidence of “the creation subjected to futility.” (8:20) The whole world is groaning under the chains of the curse- do you feel the futility and brokenness? But Romans 8:22 says that the world’s groaning isn’t hopeless, but hopeful. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” The groaning is “the groans of childbirth,” the birth pains of the new creation, the old order of things passing away. The groaning will continue next year. But I have confidence that the groaning is leading somewhere good.
All things will work together for my good.
No matter what happens next year, I know that the banner of Romans 8:28 will fly over all of it: “We know that for those who love God, all things work together for good.” Suffering, tragedy, disappointment, frustration… all of them will be woven into a tapestry of grace that is working everlasting good for me. What a promise! We can confidently enter an unknown year with this knowledge as an anchor for our souls: “We know all things work together for good.”
Nothing will separate me from God’s love.
Neither life or death. Neither angels nor demons. Nothing from my past and nothing the future holds. No political or spiritual power. No height. No depth. Or anything else in all creation. None of it will be able to drag me out of the hand of my Father and Savior. 2018 will not separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Good news indeed!
The only wise God will get glory.
“To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (16:27) This prayer will most certainly be answered. In 2018, God will be guiding history towards its end, calling sinners to himself, building his church, pouring out judgment and extending mercy. In and through and over all things, God will be glorified in Christ. In this we can be absolutely sure.