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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 9

A General Survey of the Epistle to the Romans

A Declaration of Paul's Official Relation

The Gospel of God

Of this gospel he says two things: it was promised previously by His prophets, and this promise was recorded in the Holy Scriptures (1:2). This is a statement of inspiration; the source of inspiration: God. He promises the channel: the prophets, through His provision. And the object of inspiration: the Scripture.

This statement would be of special interest to the Jews, for when a man came to a Jew and preached the gospel, the first thing the Jew asked would be, "How old is it? Is it new, or can it be found in the Scriptures?" And you have to settle that question before you get any place with the Jew. Paul, on the first mention of the gospel of God in that book of Romans, hastens to add that this gospel is no novelty. It is as old as the universe, "promised before," long before the apostle sat down to explain it. Paul demonstrates this to be a fact throughout the Roman epistle by quoting constantly from the Old Testament, sixty-one times altogether. He quotes from Genesis five times; Exodus, four times; Leviticus twice; Deuteronomy, five times; 1 Kings, twice; Psalms, fifteen times; proverbs, twice; Isaiah, nineteen times; Ezekiel, once; Hosea, twice; Joel, once; Naham, once; Habakkuk, once; Malachi, once. Besides these sixty-one quotations, the book is full of indirect allusions to Old Testament history, type, and doctrine. Truly the gospel of God was "promised afore in the Holy Scriptures"! Only eyes closed by willful blindness could fail to see this. To take just once instance: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). The world appears lost even back in Isaiah. To finish the verse: "Jehovah hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all"; salvation is also prescribed. Eight chapters of the book of Romans are packed in one little verse in the Old Testament. No wonder Paul could say to the Jews, "This gospel is nothing new!" Paul confounded the Jews, showing from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ of God.

The gospel was not only promised, it was "promised afore." The gospel then is not an afterthought of God. It was promised before! The gospel we preach is the "old gospel"; it i not some new thing that God hastily threw together as a remedy after the ruin and wreck of humanity. It is the old gospel. It is the gospel that anticipates and antedates human sin and human ruin. It goes way back before the fall. It points to the Lamb slain "before the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8).

Second, the gospel is 'concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1:3). That is a definition which may sound like the ABCs, but a great part of Christendom seems uninformed that the gospel is 'concerning God's Son"; and men are preaching today almost anything, calling it the gospel. The true gospel, God's gospel, is the gospel that has to do with Jesus. Anything not centered in Him is not the gospel of God.

The Son of God

He is the keystone of the arch, so to speak. Of Him, four things are affirmed: 1. His name, 2. His humanity, 3. His deity, and 4. His authority to dispense offices.

His Name

First, He is named: "God's Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord." The way He is named is worthy of your attention. Those four names and titles are rich and suggestive of meaning! "Son" defines His unique relationship to the Father. "Jesus" speaks of His humanity; He is the man Jesus. "Christ" speaks of His Messianic office; He is the Anointed One. "Lord" speaks of His exalted position and person; He is the Lord Jehovah.

Not only are the words themselves suggestive, but the very order in which they occur is significant. He is first the Son of God, and as the Son of God he existed from all eternity. In the fullness of time, the eternal Son of God humbled Himself to be born of a virgin, and then the angelic announcement was "His name shall be called Jesus." And then Jesus lived for thirty years on the earth. He finally came to the day when He went down to the Jordan and was baptized; and the Spirit of God anointed Him, which is what "Christ" means. Then He began His Messianic ministry. First the disciples confessed Him to be the Christ of God. Christ offered Himself as the Messiah, but the Anointed One to Israel was rejected. "He humbled Himself, and became obedient even unto death, yea and gave unto him a name which is above every name: that in the name of Jesus ... every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord' (Phil. 2:8-11). His name, as given by Paul, encompasses these four things: the Son of God from all eternity; then the man Jesus; then entering into the office of the Christ; and finally confession that He is God. "God's Son. Jesus Christ our Lord."

His Humanity

He is fully human: "Which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh." This is a marvelously accurate statement of His humanity. The ordinary word for "born" is not used. He does not say, "He was born of the seed of David," but "He was made." Paul repeats this word usage in another letter, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law" (Galatians 4:4). John used the same expression, "made flesh" (John 1:14). Not "born flesh" but "made flesh." Ordinary men are born flesh, but the eternal Son of God was made flesh. This is Paul's testimony to the virgin birth. It was the creative act of God that made Him flesh. God in some way took the eternal Spirit of His Son, joined it in the seed of the woman in the womb of the virgin, and out of that He brought the man Jesus.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 10)

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