In the third part of this series, Understanding What Christ Did, we studied the part of the apostle Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome (now referred to as the Biblical book of Romans) that dealt with the significance of God’s salvation for His children, that He delivers through Christ.
As we continue our journey through this letter, we find Paul shifting his Holy Spirit-inspired focus to the eternal prize awaiting God’s children:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is revealed to us. For the anxious longing of creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now. Rom. 8:18 – 22. NASB
What Paul is pointing out, is that when Adam and Eve corrupted themselves through sin, God levied the consequential penalty upon the entire earth and its inhabitants – in addition to our progenitors.
The perfection of the Garden of Eden is now denied to the human race until the children of God receive their reconciliation and resurrection at the end of time; and all the rest of God’s creations await that moment as well:
And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Rom. 8:23 ESV
The children of God already possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – the ‘first fruit’ of our heavenly transformation; and they are all assured of the consummation of that transfiguration.
God has given us a hope that does not disappoint. It does require our faith – bolstered by the love of the Spirit of God:
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rom. 8:24, 25. NKJV
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom. 8;26, 27. NASB
So in addition to strengthening our faith, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with a heavenly effective prayer language that we do not understand; but Jesus does comprehend it, and He takes up those prayers, and stands in intercession for us as well. Thus, we are well equipped to be able to cling to the salvation promise of God:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be confirmed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He justified, these He also glorified. Rom. 8:28 – 30. NKJV
God has always had a plan for your total and absolute redemption. Your part in that redemptive process, is to accept His plan by placing your faith in who Jesus is, in what He’s done, and do your best to walk like He walked. When you do that, God has got you covered:
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? Rom. 8:31 – 35. NKJV
The answer to that last section is my all-time favorite scripture in the entire Bible. Indeed, it is my anchor text for this blog:
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:37 – 39. NKJV
Nothing can stand in the way of you receiving God’s love (except unrepentant sin)…
Remember that the overriding purpose of Paul’s letter was to unify both the Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ, within a strong gospel foundation. Paul now addresses the Jews specifically:
Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved… Rom. 9:27 NASB
Paul is recalling God’s promise to Abraham to cover the earth with his descendants; however, only those Jews (the ‘remnant’) who embrace Christ will be awarded His salivation.
Paul goes on to contrast what has been the Jew and Gentile pursuit of salvation:
What shall we say then? The Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone. Rom. 9:30 – 32. ESV
As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Rom. 9:33 NKJV
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Rom. 10:4 NKJV
The Gentiles pursued their salvation by faith. The Jewish ‘remnant’ must do likewise. The majority of the Jews unfortunately, tried to earn their salvation through works – rejecting Christ (the ‘stumbling stone) as was prophesied they would, 400 years before they did, by the prophet Isaiah. (Is. 28:16 – quoted by Paul above).
So then, Paul gives both the Jews and the Gentiles the clear path to salvation, i.e. for keeping their eyes on the prize:
…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom. 10:9, 10. NKJV
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved. Rom. 10:12, 13. NKJV
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Rom. 10:17 NASB
So it all comes down to faith, a faith gained by Holy Spirit inspiration when you hear the gospel.
Paul then directly addresses the Gentiles, warning them not to yield to self-righteousness; because it was the Jews’ unrighteous rebellion against Christ that gave the Gentiles the opportunity to receive the gospel. Paul did not want the Gentiles to adopt the prideful attitude that they were ‘one up’ on the Jews:
Now if the first handful of dough offered as the firstfruits [Abraham and the patriarchs] is consecrated (holy), so is the whole mass [the nation of Israel]; and if the root [Abraham] is consecrated (holy), so are the branches.
But if some of the branches were broken off, while you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them to share in the richness [of the root and sap] of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches and pride yourself at their expense…remember it is not you that support the root, but the root [that supports] you. Rom. 11:16 – 18. AMP
Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith.
So do not become proud but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God; severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness.
And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. Rom. 11:19 – 23. ESV
God’s love and mercy knows no bounds. All He asks, is that you keep your eyes on the prize…
Goodnight and God bless.