Advent devotions: December 21st
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
The book of Romans is a beautiful explanation of the gospel, written as a letter to the Christians in Rome. At the end of the letter, the apostle Paul concludes with a word of glory to God. This final praise recalls many of the letter’s major themes. Paul begins by saying that God is the one “who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ” (v. 25). Paul began his letter with a desire to encourage and strengthen the Christians in Rome, and now he makes it clear that if any strengthening is to come, it will come through God, who alone can bring strength to his people.
Are you in need of strength? Then this message is for you. How do we receive this strength? The Lord strengthens his people through the gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ (v. 25). The gospel strengthens us because it is the “power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16). We can be strong only “in the Lord and in the strength of his power” (Ephesians 6:10), but we cannot come to him until peace with him is established. Only Jesus can establish peace between us and God, and when we believe the gospel message that Christ alone can forgive our sins, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Beloved, if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then this peace is yours. Receive it with gladness and be strengthened.
All of this takes place through “the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed” to all people (vv. 25-26). In the Old Testament, the gospel was taught in symbols and foreshadowing, but now with the advent of Jesus, the gospel is now seen with full clarity. Through Israel, the Messiah came, uniting Jew and Gentile in one body. Today, we are all one body, regardless of race or ethnicity. Through Jesus, we are the family of God in Christ.
Prayer: Father, glorify Thy Son that Thy Son may glorify Thee. Holy Spirit, do Thine office and take of these things of Christ and reveal them unto us. We gather up all our prayers in that salvation through the blood of the Lamb. Amen. (Charles Spurgeon)
Chris Marquez is a seminary student and pastor, currently planting Reformed Church of Los Angeles in Lynwood, California.