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Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 6

A General Survey of the Epistle of Romans


The third aspect of salvation in experience, as set forth in chapter 8, starts with "no condemnation" and ends with "no separation." Everything in between sounds forth over and over again the security of the man who believes in Christ. If the Holy Bible were likened to a beautiful ring set with jewels, the book of Romans would be the most beautiful jewel in the ring, and the eighth chapter the most beautiful facet in the jewel! Romans shows me first that I am lost, then it shows me that I am saved. God first shows men they they are condemned, then gives them righteousness, and also assures them that He is going to keep them right through to the end. There are nine aspects of preservation in this chapter: 1. preserved in the Son of God (8:1-4), 2. preserved in the Spirit of God (8:5-13), preserved in the family of God (8:14-23), 4. preserved in the promises of God (8:24-25), 5. preserved in the prayer of God (8:26-27), 6. preserved in the providence of God (8:28), 7. preserved in the purpose of God (8:29-30), 8. preserved in the power of God (8:31-34), and 9. preserved in the love of God (8:35-39).

Notice that it is all in Christ Jesus. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" (8:1). Even the worst calamities cannot separate us "from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus" (8:39). He begins with "in Christ Jesus and closes with "in Christ Jesus." Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 all end with "in Christ Jesus" or "through Christ Jesus," emphasizing that everything God has for us is in Him and through Him.


In relation to the Jew (chapters 9-11), three movements of thought unfold Paul's discussion to them.


The twelfth chapter starts, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God." Paul had just finished speaking of those mercies in chapter 8. Romans could have been a beautiful epistle with chapters 9-11 dropped out. But Paul had to deal with the Jew, for the Jew would immediately ask, "What about the national promises, if Christ is the Messiah who had come?" The ninth chapter, dealing with election, shows God being vindicated before the Jew.


The Jew might say at this point, "If I am not elected, I cannot help it. The fault is not mine." So Paul, in the tenth chapter, shows that it is not God's fault they are rejected. Every last one could believe if he wanted to, but the nation rejected the Son of God. (Don't let anybody drag election into his case. I thank God that he chose me before the foundation of the world! Election is a doctrine for the saint to enjoy, but not to teach to sinners to hide behind.)

They did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. That is the reason they are rejected. Men are lost not because of God's election, but because they refused to believe Jesus. "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." There is no difference between the Jew and the Gentile, "whosoever" means salvation is offered to all. "But they did not all hearken to the glad tidings." Just a few, the remnant, received. They did not all accept. Paul quotes their own Scripture against them, closing the chapter by saying, "As to Israel, he saith, All the day long did I spread out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people" (10:21). So the responsibility for their rejection rests upon the Jew himself, not upon God.


Paul anticipates the next question: "I say then, Did God cast off His people?" (11:1). What is his answer? "God forbid!" The nation has been merely set aside, not cast off for good. Paul points to himself as proof that the nation is not totally rejected. "For I also am an Israelite" (11:1).

"What shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" (11:15). Israel sometime is going to be received back into God's favor. That marvelous illustration of the olive tree - from which some people foolishly teach that a man can be lost after he is saved - applies to Israel. "He grafted you in." Paul does not say that to the individual Christian but to the Gentiles as a whole. Israel was the real tree, but God cast off Israel as a nation, grafting in the Gentiles as a body. Paul warns, "Don't you Gentiles be high minded, for God can cut you out and put back the Jewish nation." Paul looks forward to a time when her "blindness" shall be removed and "All Israel shall be saved," nationally brought back into favor.

Paul closes this whole section with a wonderful inscription of praise to God for His mercy, that he has rejected Israel in order to save the Gentiles.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 7

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