Paul writes Romans - Part six
Paul desired to see all Israel saved. He admitted they had a
zeal for God, but not according to correct knowledge. They did
not see Christ in the picture, they only saw the letter of the
written law and were trying to establish a right relationship
with God by serving the Old Covenant law, and had not yet seen
that without Jesus Christ as the foundation, they could not, and
never would, be reconciled or justified with God. The whole
object or end result of the Old Covenant law was to point to
Christ, as the way to be righteous - forgiven, justified, with
God (verses 1-4).
He points out that Moses wrote about how the Old Covenant
law could make one righteous with God (Lev.18:5), and that was by
obeying all in the law without ever breaking the law. As it is
the law that defines what sin IS, then the only way to be
justified with God through the law, would be to never break any
part of it, then and only then could you live forever. And there
is only ONE human person that has ever done that - Jesus the
Christ. On the other hand Paul says, becoming righteous with God
by FAITH, does not count on doing some mighty deed like ascending
to heaven, but it has all to do with the word preached and faith.
And if you have faith in Jesus being sent by God to be our
Savior, sin bearer, then believing this makes you righteous or
justified with God, no matter who you are, Jew, Greek, Gentile.
God is mercifully rich towards anyone who calls upon Him for
justification through Christ (verses 5-13).
Paul is once again repeating what he has said before. He
really wanted to nail this foundational truth down for them, and
so often repeated it though in slightly different ways. The truth
was that being forgiven of sins, becoming justified with God,
being declared righteous in God sight, was ONLY through the
sacrificial work of Jesus' death on the cross, as our sin bearer.
And we had to have FAITH and BELIEVE in this way that God had
provided for us.
He then precedes to show that this way to salvation had been
preached, it had been proclaimed, God had sent it out from way in
the past, people had preached and taught this good news of FAITH
for justification. Faith then comes by hearing and hearing by the
Word of God. Paul relates that it was foretold by prophets such
as Moses and Isaiah, that God would have this truth proclaimed
and that others other than Israelites would hear it and accept
the good news of righteousness by faith. And at the same time
Isaiah said that Israel would hear but would not listen, would
not believe (Isaiah 65:2). Paul is now back talking about this
"election of grace" - only some in Israel coming to God's only
way to be saved and to find salvation (verses 14-21).
One of the greatest chapters in the New Testament on the
grace of God's calling, and the overall plan of salvation for
Israel and for all (as Israel being a type of all nations
on earth), concerning salvation. It is the chapter that makes it
abundantly clear that all people are spiritually blinded and only
God's calling of grace can remove that blindness, and God is NOT
removing that blindness but in a relatively few people, yet He
will in His time frame give a calling of mercy to all people.
In all that Paul has said about Israel not finding the faith
to believe in the way of justification that God had always
declared would be the one and only way, he emphatically declares
in verses one and two, that God has NOT cast away His people
Israel. This is also where we learn that Paul was of the tribe
of Benjamin. He relates how in Elijah's time (2 Kings 19) when
Elijah thought he was the only one serving God, that the Lord had
told him, there were seven thousand in Israel that still
worshipped the true God, and had not bowed the knee to Baal
Paul then says it was even so at the time of his writing,
that SOME in Israel believed, those who were of the "election of
grace." And grace is not works, if it were of works, then it
could not be of grace. Verse 7 is POWERFUL - it is the "election"
that have obtain grace, and ALL the rest were BLINDED. And verses
8-10 blows you away by saying it is GOD THAT HAS BLINDED THEM !!
Are they lost forever? He says, "GOD FORBID!" But in God's
plan of blindness to the many, the Gentiles can have grace
extended to them. And then some Israelites may become jealous and
also find grace. He gives a parable of the olive tree in verses
17-24. The wild olive tree represents the Gentiles. Some of the
branches of the natural olive tree were cut off and so the
branches of the wild olive tree could be grafted in. It
was all to do with "belief" - believing the true way of
justification with God. The Gentiles were not to boast, for it
they continued not in the true faith they would be cut off and if
the Israelite continued not in unbelief they would be grafted
back in (verses 17-24).
Then we have the wonderful verses of 25-36.
"I want you to understand this mystery dear brothers, so
that you will not feel proud and start bragging. Some of
Israel have hard hearts, and are blinded, but this will last
only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to Christ.
And so all Israel will be saved. Do you remember what the
prophets said about this? 'A deliverer will come from Zion
and will turn Jacob from all ungodliness. And then I will
keep my covenant with them and take away their sins' (Isaiah
Many of Israel are now enemies of the Good News. But those
elected are loved by God.
For the gifts and calling of God are without Him ever
turning back from. For in times past you did not believe
God, but now have obtained mercy from Him, when many in
Israel would not believe. And through your mercy those
unbelieving Israelites will one day obtain mercy. For God
has put all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all
in due time.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge
of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways
past finding out!
For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His
counsellor? Or who first gave to Him so God could give back
to them? For in Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all
things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
Do you see what these wonderful verses teach? God has put
EVERYONE in a state of unbelief, BLINDNESS to the Gospel. He then
calls and has an "election of grace" - He opens the minds of
SOME, when He decides - the rest stay in blindness, BUT ONLY
till the Lord decides to remove their blindness. With Israel, it
was foretold by the prophets that MOST of them would remain in
blindness to the Gospel UNTIL the coming of the Messiah in glory,
what we call the "second coming of Christ" - and then the Lord
will set His hand to remove the sins of Israel, take away the
spiritual vail of blindness that covers their minds, and start to
save all of Israel.
It is all in God's salvation TIME PLAN for all people who
have ever lived. I expounded this is some detail as we went
through parts of the Gospels. All in due time will be given
mercy, given a clear and plain chance to know the truths of God
and the way to be saved through Christ the redeemer. Some have
mercy shown towards them now in this life time, others will have
it shown to them later. As Jesus said in the Gospels, their will
be a resurrection of ALL people, all that are in the graves. Some
will be in the first resurrection to meet Christ in the air, in
the clouds (1 Thes. 4:13-18; with Rev.20:1-4). Those will be the
ones called and chosen from the time of Adam to Jesus' coming
again. Those not called during their physical life time, as most
of the children of Israel were not, will be raised in a second
resurrection, the books of the Bible will be opened to them and
the book of LIFE will be given them. It is their time to be shown
As Paul said, "O the depth of the riches both of wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His
ways." How wonderful is the love, the patience, and the mercy of
With the truth of God's mercy now presented to Paul's
readers he precedes to tell them HOW they should be living as
being under that mercy, as being called of God to have His
Being under God's grace means we are to live as a full
complete sacrifice, holy, acceptable, unto God, which is only our
reasonable service for such mercy and love. We are to be not
conformed to the ways of the world, but we are to be TRANSFORMED
by the RE-MAKING of our minds, to PROVE what is the GOOD and
ACCEPTABLE and PERFECT will of God. We are to not think of
ourselves above what we should, but to think in a sober manner,
as God as given to each of us a measure of faith. And this Paul
goes on to explain is the gifts from God that each have been
given. We are to use these gifts to serve all within the body of
Christ. We need to use them to their full potential and full
benefit for the members of the Church. Paul is instructing that
we need to know WHAT is our gift or gifts and so use them
accordingly. To try and function within gifts we do not have is
really like putting a square peg in a round hole, I guess you
could eventually force it in, but it never really fits properly
and could even mess things up as you try.
Christians under grace are to ABHOR that which is EVIL, and
to CLEAVE, hang on to for dear life we could say, to that which
is GOOD. We are to be kindly affectionate with brotherly love
towards each other, in respect preferring one another. We can
still like and enjoy to a point some outside the Church of God,
but our first love should be especially towards those in the
family of God. We are not to be lazy in our business of
work in this world, and we need to be zealous on serving the
Lord. We should rejoice in the assured hope we have of God's love
and plan for our eternal life. We are to endure trials and
tribulations, and continue in a constant mind of prayer, which is
having our mind constantly in close relations with our heavenly
Father. Christians are to give to other saints who are in need,
as they are able, and to be a people of hospitality (verses
Paul was not through with listing other proclivities that
should be part of a Christian's life.
"Bless them which persecute you; bless and curse not.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice; and weep with them that weep"
We need to be able to empathize with people.
"Be of the same mind one towards another." Love each other. "Mind
not high things, but be content with mean things." Do not put
your consuming desire on having wealthy material things. "Be not
wise in your own conceits." Don't be vain minded with your ideas
that are not backed by God's word. You may be correct with some
thoughts as you live in this world, but don't be vain about it.
Then again you may be wrong, but vainly think you are correct,
and that makes you double the fool. "Do not give back evil to
others who do evil towards you. Be upright and honest with people
you deal with in this life. If it be possible, as much as what is
your part in it, live peaceably with all people." Sometimes
peace is not possible with some individuals and you may have to
stand up for your rights, but in the main try to live at peace
with people. "Dearly beloved, do not take vengeance, but put
wrathful revenge behind you, for it is written, 'Vengeance is
mine; I will repay, says the Lord.' Therefore if your enemy
hunger, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so
doing you will lead him to be ashamed or embarrassed for what he
has done to you. Do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil
with good" (verses 14-21).
Quite the list of conduct to live by as we move and work and
have our daily living among the brothers and sisters in Christ
and those out in the world.
Verses 1-7 is concerning our living with and responsibility
towards "secular governments" of this world. It again has caused
some concern and questions in the minds of Christians, who find
themselves under an evil government of men. We can think about
those who lived under the government of Hitler before and during
the Second World War. Then there have been some terrible dictator
governments in some countries since the Second World War, who
have killed thousands, and imprisoned many more thousands, for
their own selfish reasons. Can such governments be said to be
"the minister of God to you for good" and "Whoever therefore
resists the power, resists the ordinance of God"? I think not, in
fact it certainly cannot be said they are from God or in any way
doing the service of the Lord.
The answer is again realizing that Paul is using a "general
statement" based upon a context where a secular government is not
evil towards its people. The Roman government of Paul's day
allowed people like the Jews to observe their religion. As long
as people were orderly they gave a lot of freedom to worship and
conduct their lives in a respectable manner.
What are Christians to do when they find themselves under an
evil government such as the one Hitler governed. We are given a
basic two ways to go in the New Testament. You either stand up
for what is right and proper, and take whatever persecution comes
upon you, or you pack your bag and FLEE!
Verse 8 has also given some trouble as to what Paul is
saying. I like the "New Living Translation" - they put it this
way: "Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You
can never finish paying that!"
Paul quotes some of the Ten Commandments to show that we
need to observe them in our relationship with other human
individuals we converse with each day. It is another section that
makes it clear that Paul never thought or taught that the Ten
Commandments were abolished at any time.
He finishes this section with reminding his readers that
they need to awake out of any spiritual sleep they may have got
themselves into, to put on the amour of light, to live and walk
in the way that is of Christ Jesus and not the way of the natural
flesh with its lusts. He reminds them that the day is far spent
and that the time of completion of their salvation is nearer than
when they first believed.
This is of course true at any time, for who knows how long
we shall live after the day we first believed and were called to
our salvation. As is commonly said among Christians, "We need to
live for God as if this is our last day in this physical life."
In chapter 14, Paul moves into answering and giving
guidance, on a specific problem that was apparently taking place
among the brethren of the Church of God at Rome, and that was the
pros and cons of "meat eating" or "no meat eating" and "fasting"
and "days on which to fast."
TO BE CONTINUED