Romans Bible Study Lesson 50

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God’s Mercy

Romans 11:28—36

After showing us from the picture of the olive tree how God has temporarily put Israel aside, Paul shows us how His mercy will be demonstrated in the future when He once again resumes dealing with national Israel. God’s mercy is not only extended to Israel but also to the Gentiles.

Verses 28—29

On one hand, Israel is an enemy of the Gospel. They rejected the Good News of the Kingdom, but out of this failure came good for our sake (Gentiles). God appointed Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles and revealed to him the Gospel of Grace. Each person can now come to God as an individual without going through Israel. Jew and Gentile are now on a level playing field (Ephesians 2:12—16).

On the other hand, because God chose Israel to be His servant through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Israel is beloved. Although God has temporarily stopped dealing with Israel as a nation, there is absolute certainty that He will resume His dealings with her in the future.

God will not revoke His promises. The word irrevocable literally means that God will not repent or change His mind. He will never go back on His word to Israel or to us. What He says will come to pass. We can see Peter also encouraging the Kingdom saints by telling them that God will do what He promised. It’s interesting and appropriate to see Peter reference prophecy when talking about Israel’s program. The Day of the Lord is a reference to the Second Coming (Matthew 24:42—44; 1 Thessalonians 5:1—4) and the day of judgment and destruction is the Tribulation and Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11). This is because Peter’s ministry is to Israel while Paul’s is to the Church, the Body of Christ.

2 Peter 3:9 9The 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.10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Verses 30—31

When the Gentiles rebelled against God at the Tower of Babel, He turned away from them and told Abraham that He would form a nation through whom He would reveal Himself. It was because of the disobedience of the Gentile nations that God chose to show Israel His mercy. Israel was greatly favored by God for 1,500 years. When they rejected God’s call to be the light of the world, God rejected them temporarily as a nation and His kindness and mercy have been demonstrated through the Gentiles. This was the changeover from God’s prophetic program with Israel to His Mystery program with the Church. This change in program was also beneficial to individual Jews as shown at the end of verse 31. God has extended His mercy to Jews just as He is doing with Gentiles. Israel’s national program has been put on hold but this verse proves God is not finished with the individual Jew. Stam says this is: “The scriptural motive for Jewish missionary work.”

All people, Jews and Gentiles, have been shut up or locked away in disobedience. It was our disobedience that caused us to be locked up. Israel was not shut up in disobedience until after they rejected the offer of the Kingdom with the stoning of Stephen. We can see that Jews and Gentiles were in this shut up state back in chapter 3.

Romans 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;

Fortunately, God made a way for all of us to approach God through Christ reconciling us to Him. Anyone, Jew or Gentile, can believe and be saved.

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Verses 33—36

In closing out these last three chapters Paul can’t help but marvel at the great work God did in His plan of salvation for all people. God had worked out this plan from before time was created and it is this plan that He revealed through Paul. Paul was overwhelmed by God’s mercy and infinite love directed toward such vile sinners. Even though time and time again man has rejected God, God continues to reach out to save us from our sin infused lives. How could a holy and righteous God involve Himself with such depraved beings?

Paul makes the following points:

1. God’s wisdom and knowledge are incomprehensible.

2. There is no one His equal. He is above all.

3. God is a debtor to no one.

4. All things have come from Him (He is the source), all things exist through Him and all things are done for Him (He is the object of all creation).

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.

All of creation exists for the sole purpose of glorifying God. However, with Adam’s sin came creation’s groaning. What was originally created for God’s glory became corrupt. However, as believers, God is able to bring glory back to Himself because we are regenerated spiritual beings. We are not able to glorify God in our old nature. It is only when we allow God to work in us that we glorify God.

In context, Paul’s outburst of praise is directed to God’s work concerning our salvation. Verse 32 says He has locked both Jew and Gentile up in condemnation through our disobedience but it is out of this hopelessness that God has given hope by showing His mercy.

Our Response to God’s Mercy

Romans 12:1—2

Chapters 1—8 are generally doctrinal in nature. Chapters 9—11 are an aside to the Jews. Chapters 12—16 are mostly practical application. We can see how Chapters 9—11 are parenthetical if we put 8:38—39 next to 12:1.

38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord…1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Paul often lays out doctrine (a set of beliefs) and then shows us what our response should be to those beliefs. Our response is our Christian walk. If we had not been taught what God desires or expects from us, how would we know how to act. Doctrine and walk are closely tied together and should not be separated. We also need to put doctrine ahead of our walk since knowledge of what we believe should drive our actions, not the other way around.

Verse 1

The first thing we notice is that Paul is urging us to live for the Lord. There are other passages where Paul encourages us to do the right thing but he stays away from commanding us to do something. Contrast this with the Law. The Jews were never encouraged to follow the Law; they needed to completely obey every part of the Law (James 2:10; Matthew 5:19). If they obeyed the Law they would be blessed but if not, curses would follow.

2 Corinthians 10:1 Now I, Paul, myself urge you…

Ephesians 4:1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

We are urged to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. Our bodies are only containers of our real self. Our old nature and new nature use our body to accomplish their objectives. It is the old nature’s objective to please itself. The old nature is self-serving, sensual, and jealous loving anything that makes me look good. The new nature is righteous, holy and caring, focusing only on serving Christ. The body is merely the tool used by each nature to carry out its desires. Our mind decides which one will be in control. We can decide to serve the Lord by letting Him have control of our new nature, or we can decide to please ourselves by letting old nature rule. I believe this is what verse 2 addresses.

Romans 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

One mistake is to think that you can tame the old nature, to make yourself useful to God. The old self needs to be considered dead. There is nothing in the old nature that God can use. The only way you can be of use to God is to allow Him to work in you. When Christ died on the cross, all believers died with Him. As a result we are justified. His work on the cross took care of the penalty of sin. It also makes it possible for us to live free from the power of sin. Since we are in Christ we now need to walk as if we are in Him. Our status of being “in Him” will never change but our walk may not always match up with our position.

Romans 6:6, 11 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Colosians 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice is in contrast to Israel’s dead sacrifices. We were bought with a price, we are the Lord’s so now the least we can do is give ourselves back to Him in service. Paul had a great understanding and appreciation of God’s great love. So much so that it drove him to serve Him faithfully until the end of his life. As a living sacrifice we need to be holy—set apart from the world and set apart for God’s glory. The spiritual service of worship literally means it is the logical (Greek: logikos) thing to do.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;

Verse 2

This verse is the key to complying with the previous verse. How do we present our bodies as a living sacrifice for the Lords service? Through the renewing of our minds. The body can be used for the lusts of men or the will of God (1 Peter 4:2) depending upon which way the mind directs it. The old nature desires to be conformed to this world and live for self. We are instead told that we need to be changed (transformed). Even though we are saved, we still allow the sinful nature to take control. We need to renew our mind in order for us to change from being self-focused to God-focused. We can do this because Christ has made it possible through the cross. From God’s point of view the old nature is dead, and now we need to act as if it actually is dead. Paul gives us insight into the struggle of the two natures in 7:14—25.

1 Peter 4:2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

Ephesians 4:22—24 22that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

An interesting part of this verse is that we are able to prove what God’s will is when we are transformed. God’s will is knowable and we can examine and test to see that it is the genuine will of God. This is because God’s will for the Church is contained in Scripture, specifically Paul’s writings. We will not be able to find God’s will for us in the Old Testament or the Gospels for that relates to Israel (after Israel became a nation). Paul tells us exactly what God expects of us and by following His instructions we will be in His will. This is why we study the Bible. Most people try to discover what God’s will is by weighing the pros and cons, maybe getting advise from other people, praying that God will show them what to do, etc. In reality, God has already revealed what He wants us to do. By walking in step with the Spirit we will be completely within His will in every decision we make.

Colossians 1:9—12 9For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

Galatians 5:16, 24—25 16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.