Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Seventy-three: Paul writes Romans - Part five   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
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Chapter Seventy-three:

Paul writes Romans - Part five

                        NEW TESTAMENT

                         BIBLE STORY

                          ACTS #27

               Paul writes Romans - Part five


CHAPTER EIGHT

     With all that Paul has laid out in the preceding chapters it
is with confidence he says at the start of chapter eight, "There
is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,
who live not after the flesh, but live after the Spirit."
     The law of itself could not save you, it was weak in that
regard, all it could do was reveal to you what sin is. But God
had another law so to speak, a way or a law of the Spirit of
life, to free us from the way or law of sin and death. That way
was to send Jesus in the flesh, to overcome sin in the flesh, to
live a perfect live, a sinless life, and so sin itself was
condemned to have no more power over us. Jesus took our sins upon
Himself and so the power of sin and death was lifted from us. It
was not lifted so we could freely go on sinning, but it was
lifted so the righteousness of the law might be performed and
activated in us, for he says again, that we Christians no longer
walk in accordance with the sinful desires of the flesh, but we
walk, live, after the Spirit, and we know the Spirit of God leads
us to serve and obey God (verses 1-4).

     Paul now moves into a somewhat deep discussion of our nature
before we repented, were baptized, and received the Spirit of
God, and the nature we now have as converted Christians with the
Spirit of God. He really looks at the two mind-sets, the one
BEFORE becoming a Christian and the other AFTER we are a
Christian. He shows that after knowing the correct way to
justification, forgiveness, through Christ, we must be led
on to live a different life (in thought, body, words, and deeds)
than the one we lived before we received the Spirit of God. He is
again answering the argument that being saved by grace does NOT
mean we can go on sinning and live our old way of life, that
was so often filled with sin and transgression of God's holy,
just, good, and righteous law.

     He says that if you do not let the Spirit of God lead you,
then you will follow the natural mind-set of those without God
and Christ in the world. If the Spirit of God is leading you then
you will live the correct godly way.  The two ways are opposite
to each other. Living without the leading of God's Spirit will
bring DEATH, but to have a mind led by the Spirit will bring
LIFE, and peace of mind here and now. This is all so, for he
states to just have a mind without God's Spirit influencing it,
is a mind that does not think about God's ways, does not make any
note of what is right or wrong from the Lord's perspective
of things. The natural mind just does what seems right in its
eyes. It is not focussed on God's law per se. Yes, the natural
mind may not sit down and say it hates God and His laws, the
natural mind may at times do some of the laws of God. Many people
know that to murder someone just because they said a nasty word
to you, is not going to end in a nice way for you. 
     But overall the natural mind, does not seek and desire to
serve and love and obey the laws of God, for its thoughts are not
thinking about God and His law as such, for the natural mind is
not being led or influenced by the Spirit of God. So in this
respect the natural mind cannot be God's friend, the natural mind
is then in an overall position of being against God, and so as
Paul said, an enemy to God, for it does not seek to be subject to
the law of God.
     In a salvation sense then, those who are in a state of only
having a natural mind, a mind that really does not think about
God or His law or His correct way to live, cannot, as for
salvation, please God.
     We need to remember that if such persons have never been
called by God, never having their spiritual blindness removed,
then that is God's doing, and so the Lord understanding that, can
give them good things pertaining to this life. It is only in
relation to being saved and having salvation that such carnal,
natural minded people, cannot please God. Certainly He can be
pleased with them if they do not murder other people, or do not
commit adultery, or bow down before some wood or stone idol, or
disrespect their parents. Many people lead a "good life" as we
put it - they do not hate God but do not think about Him either -
still their natural mind is NOT WITH God, hence you will perhaps
remember Jesus saying in the Gospels, "He that is not with me is
against me." So in spiritual salvation matters they cannot please
God (verses 5-8).

     What Paul is getting at is that his readers should NO LONGER
be in this condition, living the natural mind-set without
guidance from the Holy Spirit. He says, "But YOU are NOT in the
flesh, but in the SPIRIT, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells
in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ they do
not belong to Him" (verse 9).
     He once more says Christians who have Christ are dead
because of sin, they have as we have seen died in Christ who took
our sins, but are also alive again through the Spirit because of
righteousness, because the Spirit working in Christ the righteous
one saved them from death to give them life, and so the Spirit of
power that raised Christ from the dead, will also give eternal
life to whom that Spirit dwells in (verses 10-11).
     And what is Paul's deduction for all the grace given to
Christians? It is that they are to live NOT after the ways of the
natural flesh that does not know or does not acknowledge God and
His way of life. For to turn grace into living after the natural
flesh will mean you will die - you will not live in eternity, but
if through the power of the Spirit we kill the works of the
flesh, we shall live in eternity. Adding to this he says that
having the Spirit means we are sons of God and can rightly call
Him "Father." If we are then children of God we are HEIRS of God,
and joint-heirs with Christ, and if we in this life suffer for
His sake, we shall be glorified like He was when He was
resurrected (verses 12-17).

     We need to meditate deeply on the words that we are HEIRS of
God and joint- heirs with Christ. Most just do not realize what
is being revealed to us here. Christians are heirs, not of some
angel like Gabriel, but heirs of God the Father Himself. The
Father wants to share with His children ALL that He IS and ALL
that He HAS. Please read 1 John 3:1-3. Christians are one day to
be ABOVE angels! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6, that Christians
were to judge angels. The destiny that God wants for YOU and for
me, is truly mind-bending. Is it then too much that the Lord asks
of us that we serve and obey Him and His holy, just, and good,
law and commandments? I think not!

     Paul finished his thought here with saying we must also be
willing to suffer with Jesus, if we want to be glorified with
Him. And this triggers a thought in Paul's mind concerning
sufferings that we may face in this life for Jesus' sake. We have
said that Paul was one of those "different" kind of writers, he
often went off on another thought that came to him while saying
something in a certain context. It is like going on a main road
then taking a side road for a while to view other parts of the
whole travel experience, then coming back on to the main thought
or road again later.
     Here Paul brings in "sufferings" with the thought of being
God's son with His Spirit. Enduring now for a time, the
sufferings that may come upon us, is not to be compared
to the GLORY which we shall have one day. In fact he says, the
whole creation is in a figure of speech crying out and longing
for the day when God's children will be glorified, yes, and even
we Christians long for that day. We now have the firstfruits of
the Spirit, a blessed spiritual life, but with patience we wait
for that day when we shall be glorified as Jesus was glorified in
His resurrection. I refer you again to 1 John 3:1-3 (verses 18-
25).

     Again, all this puts another thought into Paul's mind, and
that is the answer to the times when, through our sufferings, we
just cannot find the words to express ourselves to God, when we
are so "stressed out" shall we say, that we are "lost for words"
- we get down on our knees to beseech God, and we just do not
seem to be able to put our thoughts into words, or express
ourselves to Him.
     In verse 26, 27, Paul tells us that "the Spirit" helps our
human weakness for words at those times, and intercedes on our
behalf to the Father. 
     Here is another of those times when CONTEXT reading of Bible
passages is vital so we do not develop false theology ideas. The
words used by Paul, "the Spirit" in verse 26, 27, he interprets
for us in verse 34. It is Jesus who makes intercession for us.
And Paul again in 1 Timothy 2:5 says there is only ONE mediator
or interceding person between God and mankind - Christ Jesus!  So
who is it that talks for us to the Father when we do not have the
words? Paul interpreting Paul, or Scripture interpreting
Scripture - it is "the Spirit" or Christ Jesus that intercedes
for us at such times. It is NOT some third person of some three
person "Trinity" that intercedes for us, it is Christ Jesus, who
Paul at times called "THE Spirit."

     After that thought of who gives help when we need to express
ourselves to God, he answers the thought of why sufferings in the
first place, by saying that though we may be puzzled about them
at times, all the things of life work towards an end good for all
that have been called by God, according to the purpose He is
working out in His overall plan. And that plan was to call ones
to be like His Son Jesus. Christ was the firstborn of many others
who are to be also like Him. God knew from the beginning that He
would predestine or pre-determine that there would be a chosen
group of people from the time of Adam to the time of the first
resurrection. And so in determining that, they would of course be
called by God to salvation, and those called, would be justified
through Christ, as we have seen from all that Paul has previously
been teaching, and those justified, would then be in the first
resurrection to glory. And we have seen (in different previous
chapters) that glorification will be at the coming of Jesus in
power and glory to set up the Kingdom of God on earth.
     Predestination here and in a few other passages of the New
Testament, does NOT mean that YOU and all other individuals
called to salvation from Adam's time, were somehow known by God
millions of years before each was born. Only a few individuals
were known by God BEFORE their human conception. Jesus was, John
the baptist was, Jeremiah was, and Cyrus a Persian king was (who
was to do God's will for a certain purpose). That's about all in
the entire Bible that are revealed to us whom God said He knew
before they were conceived and born. But the Eternal Father did
have set out in advance before Adam was created, that there would
always be some called to salvation from the very beginning, and
they would eventually make up all those saints who will be in the
first resurrection to glorification, at the second coming of
Jesus back to this earth (verses 28-30).

     He points all this out to give the assurance to his readers
that God is FOR THEM, and so if God is FOR His children than who
can be against them.  All that Christians may face in this life
they can face and overcome, endure, and subdue, for God is WITH
them, God gave His Son for them, and Jesus His Son is on the
Father's right hand interceding for all the saints. 

     He finishes chapter 8 with the verses that have become a
great source of comfort and inspiration to Christians around the
world:

     "Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it
     mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity,
     or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or
     threatened with death? Even the Scriptures say, 'For your
     sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like
     sheep.' No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory
     is ours through Christ, who loves us. And I am convinced
     that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death
     can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons
     can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and
     even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. Whether
     we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing
     in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the
     love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord" (New
     Living Translation).

CHAPTER NINE

     As Paul was talking about God's chosen, his mind now shifts
to the people of Israel as a whole.  He is so grieved over them
that he would have given up his own salvation life if they could
have all been saved. They were the people to whom God had
revealed Himself and given them so much. The great fathers like
Abraham came from them, and Christ was born from those people.
But he does see a silver thread among the dark cloth, some
Israelites did serve God. And so the true Israelite, a true child
of Abraham, are not really those who are just physically
descended from Abraham.  In fact Paul understood that it was
prophesied that the literal physical descendants of Abraham
would be called after Isaac. And so it is, for the main body of
the 12 tribes of Israel, the 10 tribes were taken into captivity
by the Assyrians in 745-718 B.C. and never returned to Palestine.
They eventually migrated through Europe and were known as Isaac's
sons or Saxons, and then Anglo-Saxons.
     It was through a promise of God to Sarah, Abraham's wife
that the children of Israel would come, through Isaac their son
of promise, and it was decided by God that it would be Isaac's
son Jacob and not Esau the older son, that would carry the
promise. It was all to do with the election of God, according to
His calling and will. So it was for those called to salvation
among the Israelites, it was God's grace and calling, not
something they could work at and earn through something from
themselves. He will come back to this very important point of
election and grace later, but for now his mind is on the right of
God to choose who He will have mercy on and who He will work
through. His mind for now is set on God's power to choose whom He
will choose to fulfil His purpose. The election of God's grace is
where it is at, for yesterday and for today (verses 1-13).

     Here is how Paul put it:

     "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?
     God forbid! For He said to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom
     I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will
     have compassion' (Ex.33:19). So that it is not of him that
     wills it, nor of him that runs or works at it, but God that
     shows mercy. For the Scripture said concerning Pharaoh,
     'Even for this same purpose have I raised you up, that I
     might show my power in you, and that my name might be
     declared throughout all the earth' ((Ex.9:16).
     Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom
     He will He hardens their heart" (verses 14-18).

     We need to read these verses for what they simply state and
believe them. I explained in certain parts of the Gospels we went
through, that it is clear ALL people are in spiritual
BLINDNESS....UNTIL God chooses to open their mind to spiritual
truths. We have seen that being called to know the truths of the
Lord is in God's hands. I refer you again to verses such as John
6:44, 63-65 and Deut.5:29; 29:4 with Number 11. If God does NOT
open the heart and mind to spiritual truths then that person
cannot understand salvation, they are still in their blindness
and the vail of darkness remains over their minds - see 
2 Corinthians 3:13-18. 
     We need not be concerned for their salvation, for God is
working with a plan of salvation for every human being that has
ever lived. Some are called to salvation in this life time, but
most are not. And as Paul here tells us with some of those NOT
called in this life time to know God and His salvation, He can do
with them whatever He likes, even to the point of what is related
here to us about Pharaoh. We saw as we went through the Gospels
that there is a large resurrection to physical life for millions,
probably BILLIONS in total from all ages, at the end of the 1,000
year Kingdom age on earth (read all of Revelation 20). All the
people, both young and old, poor and rich, famous and infamous,
kings, queens, and the ordinary peasants, will be raised to
physical life once more and given the word of God, have the tree
of life presented to them, have their minds opened to spiritual
truth, and mercy for salvation granted to them. The Pharaoh of
Moses' day will  be among those billions.
     Paul will return again to this truth of calling and the
election of grace for SOME and BLINDNESS for the rest, in chapter
11.

     The argument will be immediately raised that, "Well, if it
is all to do with God's will as to who is called to salvation and
who is left in blindness and hardness of heart, then really no
one can be blamed for not doing God's will, and why should He
then find fault with anyone?" (verse 19)
     Paul answers this argument, but not in any detailed way, he
simply replies to it with:

     "No, but, O man, who do you think you are to tell God what
     to do? Shall that which is made say to him that made it,
     'Why did you make me such and such?' Does not the potter
     have power over the clay, and with the same lump of clay he
     can make one vessel to be honored and another vessel to be
     dishonored? So, with God, He may decide to be patient in
     wrath to show His power of wrath to others, and endure for a
     while with patience upon the vessel He decided would have
     His wrath and destruction. Hence he makes known the riches
     of His mercy to those He decided would have His mercy and
     have their calling to eventual glory. And sometimes this was
     all known to God in advance. Even as He had decided to call
     us Christians to receive His mercy and glory, and not of
     Jews only but also of the Gentiles" (verses 20-24).

     He proves that God in this age is only calling to salvation
a relative few by quoting from Hosea 2:23 and 1:10, where God
states that those who were not His people shall be called His
people and children of the living God. Then he moves to the
prophet Isaiah and quotes chapters 10:22; 11:5; 28:22 and 1:9
with Lamentation 3:22. It is clear that Paul believes these
verses show God had only determined to save or have mercy upon
a relative few, in the context of salvation in the Christian age.
And that God's calling would include people from outside of
Israel, or from the Gentiles.

     Now with this all said, his thoughts go back to the way of
justification that he was covering in earlier chapters, and ties
the truth of the true way to justification with why the majority
of the Jews have failed to attain reconciliation and forgiveness
with God in the New Covenant age.
     The Gentiles did not have the knowledge of God revealed to
them as did the Jews who had been given the Old Covenant. By and
large the Gentiles were not even looking for the truth of God,
but as the Gospel was proclaimed to them they saw the truth about
being justified or forgiven of sins was through FAITH in the
sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah, as their sin bearer.
     The Jews on the other hand, who did have God revealed to
them and all the Old Testament Scriptures, did not obtain (in the
most part) the righteousness of God because they sort it by the
works of the law, trying to earn it by works and did not have
faith in the true way of justification with God, namely through
Jesus the Messiah. They stumbled at Christ, would not accept Him
as the sacrificial Savior of sins. Paul says this was also
prophesied to be this way, and that can be found in Psalm 118:22;
Isaiah 8:14; 28:16.

     Paul will further expound on the contrast between the works
of the law and the work of faith in obtaining right standing with
God, in chapter 10.

            .....................................

May 2004

TO BE CONTINUED


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