Romans Bible Study Lesson 39

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Saved, but How?

Romans 10:1—4

Having just shown us that there will be a remnant of Israel, both a remnant in this dispensation of Grace and the next (Kingdom), Paul now shares with us that he prays for the salvation of Israel. Is it actually possible that any (every) Israelite can be saved or has God pre-selected only certain people to be saved? The standard Calvinistic answer is that God has elected certain people to be saved. Acts 13:48 seems to make that clear.

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Having shown that election is about service and not salvation I would have to reject that premise and accept that God truly has made it possible for any person to come to Him in faith. However, before we explore that thought, let’s see what Paul is saying in these first four verses.

Verse 1

Paul’s great love of his Jewish brothers is evident in this verse. His desire for their salvation brought him to his knees. He did everything possible to get the Jews saved but he knew it was still a work of God. I understand this verse to be addressing individuals coming to Christ to become a part of the Body of Christ. Israel as a nation had already rejected their Messiah and it was now impossible for that nation to go back and accept the offer of the Kingdom. Of course, Paul knew that all Israel would eventually be saved after the fullness of the Gentiles is complete. This will be after the Tribulation period when Christ sets up His Kingdom on earth. But, I believe it was Paul’s desire to have them saved right now.

Romans 11:25—26 25For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.”

If Paul was praying for Israel to be saved he must have thought it would do some good to pray to that end. If God had already picked out people who were going to be saved then what good would praying for individuals to be saved do? It seems Paul knew praying for the unsaved to be saved was not a wasted exercise. As verse 13 says, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Verse 2

Paul describes here a common misconception. Many think they get credit for having an enthusiasm for God and that He will accept what they offer Him as long as it is done with the right attitude. Unfortunately for them, knowledge is more important than fervor. Many believe God will accept their works if done in sincerity.

Paul was painfully aware of the problems associated with serving God with fervor but not having the knowledge to back up his actions. He murdered believers in his zeal but had no understanding of Israel’s Messiah and program. Once Jesus Christ confronted him with the truth on the road to Damascus, he believed. His zeal was now being controlled by his knowledge.

The nation of Israel (in general), like Paul, thought the way to God was through the works of the Law instead of through faith (9:32). They had tripped over Jesus Christ, not believing that He was their Messiah. They certainly had a knowledge (gnosis) of many things and were well versed in the Law and Prophets but didn’t have a knowledge upon knowledge (epignosis). This extra, added or full knowledge they didn’t have was probably the knowledge revealed to Paul about the Mystery.

Verse 3

The verbs in verses two and three are all in the present tense indicating that they are in a state of not knowing the truth and that they are continuing to establish their own righteousness. By trying to be righteous, they turn their backs on the righteousness available only through God. God has offered His own Son so that they would be able to have His righteousness imputed onto them but they are completely oblivious to this fact because they are too busy trying to earn it in their own way.

Verse 4

While Israel tried to please God through the works of the Law, Christ has fulfilled the Law and has become the end of the Law to all those who have come to Him by faith.

Salvation to all

Is it possible for every person to come to Jesus Christ by faith to be saved? There are a number of verses that seem to indicate otherwise.

John 6:44, 65 44“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 65And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 16:14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.


Romans 8:29—30 29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

Usually a careful reading within context clarifies what these verses mean. Other verses can be best comprehended when a key word is understood.

John 6:44, 65

Jesus is teaching the Jewish people about the coming Kingdom. Those who come to the Father will have a part in the Kingdom. Since Jesus is the One who will raise the dead saints (verse 40) He is assuring them that if they believe the Father then the Father will entrust them to the Son and the Son will never lose hold of them. Verse 45 emphasizes that concept by stating that everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Christ. Verse 65 continues this thought that those who believe the Father will be the ones who will believe the testimony of the Son, the One whom the Law and Prophets predicted would come. To state it negatively, those who are not known by the Father will not be given nor be drawn to the Son.

Acts 13:48

This is probably one of the hardest of the above verses to understand. Most of this confusion is centered on the word appointed. By looking at how this word is used in other passages we can get an accurate picture of how this word should be understood.

This word is used six times in the New Testament.

Matthew 28:16 As a certain place selected by Jesus to be with His disciples.

Luke 7:8 A commander in the army who is under the authority of another.

Acts 15:2 A determination to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem for a counsel meeting.

Acts 22:10 Ananias will tell Saul what he will need to do.

Acts 28:23 A particular day that Paul was to speak.

Romans 13:1 All powers are under God’s authority.

1 Corinthians 16:15 Believers that are completely devoted (addicted) to the ministry of the saints.

The first thing to notice is that the idea of salvation being preordained of God does not exist in this word. The word speaks of setting an order, a prioritization, a setting apart and putting something above another thing. This last verse (1 Corinthians 16:15) probably gives us the best sense of understanding what Acts 13:48 is saying. Those who heard and put eternal life as a top priority or devoted themselves to obtaining eternal life were the ones who believed. Those who didn’t do this walked away from the message of salvation because they did not devote themselves to understanding what it was all about. Any person in the Acts 13 passage could have been saved but is was only those who took the time to study, understand and pursue salvation who were ultimately saved.

I believe Romans 2:6—8 shows this very idea.

Romans 2:6—8 6who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

This verse is often understood to say that anyone who is able to do good deeds their whole life will be rewarded with eternal life but is tempered by Romans 3 that states that every person is a sinner and that there is no good in anyone. However, it may be better understood to mean that anyone who actively and persistently pursues eternal life will obtain it, not by good works but by faith.

Acts 16:14

This is another misused passage used to prove that God selects (elects) only some people to eternal life. Lydia was already a worshiper of God and was interested in things of the Lord as shown by her worship and listening carefully to what Paul had to say about Jesus Christ. Just as Cornelius was a God-fearing man who prayed and was friendly toward Israel (Acts 10) but yet was not saved, Lydia was also seeking after God. She was faithful with the light God had given to her so God revealed even more light. Ultimately, it was God who led her along on her path to salvation but she could have ignored that light and stopped pursuing God at any time. This fits in with the section above and shows how merciful and kind God is.

Romans 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 3:10—11

This passage indicates that man has no desire to seek after God. A spiritually dead man cannot make a decision to get saved therefore God needs to enable the unsaved person to get saved. Many would say that those whom God has elected will be the ones He will enable to be respond to His invitation to be saved.

I now believe that these verses refer to man’s fallen nature and that nature has no means of responding to a spiritual plea. That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. I also believe God has given everyone the ability to respond to His free gift of salvation, not just a select few. From creation man is confronted with the existence of God (Romans 1:20). If they accept that light God will reveal more of Himself until they either reject that light or believe.

Romans 8:29—30

Many use these verses as proof that God has preordained certain people to go to heaven. From foreknowing a person to glorifying that person God has decided the fate of certain people.

However, these verses really refer to anyone who is saved. Verse 28 states to whom verses 29—30 are referring to and I believe it is not in reference to an individual but to the Body of Christ. Anyone in the Body of Christ is foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified. The call is not one of salvation but a name given to the believer; called saints (Romans 1:7). The life of the Body of Christ is mapped out in these two verses.

God’s sovereign work in election and man’s responsibility to believe are often reconciled by taking an antinomy view. Antinomy is a paradox stating that two conflicting ideas are both true.  An abortion is not murder but if someone kills a woman’s fetus it is.

Stam: God must will a man to be saved if he is to be saved at all, yet that man must also exercise his will as a responsible moral agent if he is to be saved. He must will to be saved

Romans 10:12—13 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

Acts 13:26 “Brethren, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent.

Titus 2:22 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,

1 Timothy 2:3—6 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

John 3:17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

1 Timothy 4:10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.