There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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 sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 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. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1–8)
From where I am sitting, a book by Thomas Jacomb (1622–1687) stands proud in the bookcase. It is taller and deeper than it’s neighbours, being almost square, and runs to almost four-hundred pages. If you open it up, you find two columns of print on each page. If you read you discover that this a collection of fifteen sermons on the first four verses of Romans Chapter eight. That’s just over four sermons a verse.
Oh, you might think, that’s just the Puritans for you! There was no television, and people didn’t get out much. Ok then, let me take to London in the 1960s and to a chapel a couple of hundred yards from Buckingham Palace. On a Friday evening, a congregation gathered to listen to their minister go through the Book of Romans and further down my shelves sit some of the collected volumes of those sermons. Turn to Romans chapter eight and you will discover a total of seventy-two sermons. It took from the 5th February 1960 to the 25th May 1962 to complete. (Mind you, it took a staggering thirteen years to cover just the first fourteen chapters!).
I’m telling you all this to emphasise how important Romans, and especially chapter eight, is to the church. It contains a rich feast of comfort and encouragement. Over the next few days (and I mean a week or so, not years) we will look at the chapter together and discover why it is so important. In fact, whilst you are waiting, you might like to read it through first.