A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
The Experience of Merciful Purpose in Reception
There Will be a Final Salvation
In this last movement of thought is a tremendous lesson for Gentile Christendom! There are so many Gentile believers who are "ignorant of this mystery!" It is God who has mercy, but because of "A hardening in part" He cannot leave out the necessity of election. There will only be a remnant saved "until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in."
What is "the fullness of the Gentiles?" In this present age, according to Acts 15:14, God is visiting the Gentiles to take out a people for His Name. God is visiting the Gentile nations, through the ministry of Gentile believers, and is taking out a man and woman here and there for the Bride of Christ. When the body of Christ is complete, the Lord will come; Gentile times will finish and Israel shall be put in again.
Isn't that exactly what we have when our Lord says that "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled?" (Luke 21:24). Until the full number that God has chosen out of the Gentiles shall be saved, the fullness of the Gentiles in the position of favor with God will continue. When that happens, "All Israel shall be saved." At that time the Israel that is on the earth is going to be saved. Paul proves his point through the Jewish Scriptures (verses 26 and 27).
Verses 28-29 summarize Paul's argument. "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for our sakes." The Jewish nation has become an enemy to the gospel. "But as touching the election" what are they? The believing remnant is "beloved." For our sakes? No! "For the fathers' sakes." God says, "I promised Abraham; I promised Isaac; I promised Jacob"; and God keeps His promises. "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance." God might repent that He had made man, but He will never repent of the promises He made to Abraham.
Verses 30-31 speak to the Gentiles in the word "ye". The Gentiles were disobedient to God. Paul had talked about the Gentiles being disobedient in the beginning of the book. If God has shown us mercy, who are we to say that God cannot show mercy to the Jew?
Verse 32 is vivid in the ASV: "God hath shut up all unto disobedience." The Greek suggests a man shutting up an animal in a trap. They went into the trap, "that He might have mercy on them all." That statement is the closest that the Bible ever comes to relating the sin of man to the mercy of God. "God hath shut them up unto disobedience that He might have mercy."
God could not have mercy upon us as long as there were certain people on the earth who had certain privileges which they deserved. Not until all human merit had been swept aside could God do anything for us. Every last man had to be "shut up unto disobedience" before He could show mercy. Every mouth had to be stopped. The whole world had to become guilty before God. And then Paul says, "Now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested."
The doxology, as set forth in verses 33-36, constitutes the concluding paragraph. Paul has been an Alpine mountain climber. Now he has reached the peak, and he does just what anyone else would do - he turns around and looks back to see how far he has come, to know the path by which he has wound around to reach this height!
The person who has mastered the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans knows more about the philosophy of history than all the wisest historians that the world has ever seen. There is a philosophy of history that is unmatched! It makes the historians of the earth appear like children playing with their toys. In these eleven chapters, Paul shows us the original human race. The race is split into two segments: Jew and Gentile. Then came the promises. But the Jew failed to receive the promises by crucifying the Messiah, resulting in the expansion of the promises to all. Then the two segments of the race come together again, God having mercy upon all.
Paul employs two emphatic words to describe God's wisdom: "unsearchable and untrackable" (past tracing out) - as if thee were a great deep. God's decisions and judgments are like that; nobody has been able to go down to the bottom and search them out. His ways are so unfathomable that no man will ever be able to follow them.
Who has ever know God's mind, or who ever gave God any advice in this great plan of His? Paul cannot refrain in this verse 35 from going back to grace once more. "Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?" It is grace! What man in all the earth ever gave God anything so that God should be compelled to give him something in return? No man! That disposes of salvation by works!
The picture now expands until it encompasses all things. Out of God all things come - He is the origin. Through God all things exist - He is the goal. There is the circle of eternity: out, through, back.
Someone has pointed out that there is a hint here of the Triune God. The Father is the source of all things - out of Him come all things. The Son - through Him were all things made. He is the one who carries out the purposes that originate in the Father. The Holy Spirit takes the things that exist and so manipulates them and moves them that they move back to God as the goal.
"To Him be the glory forever! Amen!"
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 73 - "The Christian Life as Exhibited in Transformation")