Ignoring the Obvious

March 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Romans | 5 Comments
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An overview of the middle chapters of the Book of Romans can seem like a little bit of a rollercoaster ride. In Chapter 7 the Apostle Paul is a “wretched man.” In Chapter 8 he is “more than a conqueror.” Then, in Chapter 9:

That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Romans 9:2-3

Why did he have great heaviness and continual sorrowing in his heart? Why could he wish himself accursed from Christ? Because of his kinsmen.

Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:4

The Holy Spirit used Paul to show that it was the Jewish people, not God, who were to blame for their rejection of His Messiah.

1. God is faithful: He kept His covenants with the Jews. He chose them as the people through whom He would bless the world and through whom the Messiah would come. Even when they tried to circumvent His plans, He honored His covenants.

2. God is righteous: The people who seem to have been chosen by God for dishonor are the ones who have willfully refused to acknowledge Him or repent.

3. God is just: The clay can not question the wisdom of the potter, nor can it claim that it wouldn’t have fitted itself for destruction if God had given it “free will.”

4. God is gracious: A sinner is never in a position to demand what he deserves.

The Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah were given specifically to the Jewish people. All these prophecies pointed to Jesus. The law which God gave to the Israelites was designed to be their schoolmaster to teach them the way to Christ. Christ came unto His Own people and they received Him not – they rejected Him.

Why would they reject Him? Because they didn’t believe they needed to be saved. Their attitude was, “Saved from what?” This was mirrored in Paul’s life. Before he was converted he believed the Gentiles were at enmity with God, but not the Jewish people. The Israelites believed they needed political salvation from Rome, but not spiritual salvation from their own sin – even though they were zealous for God.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2

They had banished idolatry in the temple and even forbidden Gentiles from entering the temple, but their “knowledge” wasn’t real knowledge. They were proud and self-righteous.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Romans 10:3, emphasis added

“Establish” means to set down a foundation and make it secure. But the Jewish people had rejected the Cornerstone – the Head of the Corner. They had “set Him at nought.” They didn’t understand their own law. Paul cites Moses (from Deuteronomy 30:11-14) to show that the righteousness of the Law was meant to point the way to salvation. But those written commands were meant to have an effect on the heart. What is in the heart comes out of the mouth. What comes out of the mouth is the “word.”

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

Romans 10:6-7

Is keeping the Law of God difficult? No, it’s not difficult – it’s impossible for everyone but Christ Himself. For a human being it would be like using our own physical abilities to go up to Heaven to find Christ – or to go down into the grave, the land of the dead, to find Him. It can’t be done.

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Romans 10:8

The word of salvation was right there – in the heart – in the mouth – and that word was and is “faith.”

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