Here are a few additional thoughts from a recent Bible class.
When you run out of time in class and can’t cover all the material you prepared, what do you do? Why not cover the material in a video?
Introduction: Chapters 10-11 continue to take the reader deep into a discussion of how the sovereignty of God relates to the Jewish rejection of Jesus and Gentile inclusion in the church. These chapters contain some of the more difficult material in the letter, but also some of the most beautiful.
I. Paul’s Prayer for Israel (10:1-4)
A. Paul’s deep desire is to see Israel embrace the gospel of Jesus and be saved. His Jewish kinsmen are certainly zealous for God, but their enthusiasm is misguided (10:1-2).
B. They are ignorant of the way that God makes men righteous, and in trying to establish their own plan for righteousness, they rejected God’s way (10:3-4).
II. The Basis of Salvation is the Same for All (10:5-13)
A. If righteousness were ever to be attained by law-keeping alone, the requirement would be perfect obedience (10:5).
B. But righteousness that is based on faith does not require the impoosible, like bringing Jesus back to earth to finish any unfinished work. It simply trusts in what Jesus has already accomplished (10:6-10).
C. And this means of justification – faith, not merit – is the same for everyone. There is no distinction in this regard between Jew and Gentile (10:11-13).
III. Israel Has Squandered its Opportunities (10:14-21)
A. The gospel message has been made available through the sending of preachers, and the Jewish people have heard it, but they have not believed it (10:14-18).
B. Instead, the Gentiles have been the ones who have been more receptive, even though God’s benevolent hands remain open for the Jews (10:19-21).
IV. There is Still a Jewish Remnant (11:1-10)
A. Paul puts himself forward as “Exhibit A” that God has not completely abandoned the Jews. He is among the Jewish remnant who have embraced the gospel and justification by faith (11:1-6).
B. Israel, as a whole, “failed to obtain” the justification it was seeking (because they were seeking it through the law itself, not the one to whom the law pointed). Those who understood the gospel and didn’t stumble over Jesus obtained it (11:7-10).
V. The Grafting in of the Gentiles (11:11-32)
A. To illustrate the rejection of the Jews and the acceptance of the Gentiles, Paul uses a comparison that his readers would have been familiar with – the cutting off and grafting in of branches on an olive tree.
B. Paul’s hope in God’s inclusion of the Gentiles is that the Jews, in turn, would desire what the Gentiles had obtained in Christ, and eventually embrace the gospel, too (11:11-16).
C. Speaking to the Gentile Christians in Rome, Paul offers the following:
1. There were natural branches (Jews) who were broken off of the tree and wild branches (Gentiles) who were grafted in, or attached, to the tree (11:17).
2. But just because the Gentiles were grafted in, they should not show arrogance toward the Jews who had been cut off (11:18).
3. While it is true that the breaking off of the natural branches made it possible for the wild branches to be grafted in, that does not mean that the wild branches cannot be broken off, too (11:19-21).
4. God will cut off any branch that does not remain in his goodness and nourish any branch that does (11:22). The key is for each branch to keep living lives of faith.
5. What’s more, if the cut-off Jews cease their unbelief and place their trust in Jesus like the Gentiles did, they will be grafted back in (11:23-24).
6. In summary, Paul affirms many Jews hardened their hearts while many Gentiles opened theirs; but if the Jews want to be saved, it will be in the same manner that the Gentiles were saved – through “the deliverer” that came out of Zion, that is Jesus (11:25-27).
7. Though Jew and Gentile have, in a sense, switched places (from included to excluded), that doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way (11:28-32).
VI. Praise for God’s Wisdom (11:33-36)
A. After this lengthy and deep discussion of the sovereignty of God and how his plan to make men righteous has affected both Jew and Gentile, Paul erupts in words of praise for the God behind it all.
B. His wisdom and judgments are far beyond human ability to fully understand.
Introduction: In the previous chapter, Paul used Abraham as an illustration of how one can be justified by faith apart from meritorious works in general and the Law of Moses in particular. In this chapter, he will first mention some of the results and blessings of justification, then he will explain that what humanity lost through Adam it can regain through Jesus.
I. Blessings of Justification (5:1-11)
A. The chapter begins with “therefore,” which is a clear indication that what he is about to write relates directly to what he previously wrote.
B. From 3:21 – 4:25, Paul explained and illustrated what it means to be justified, not by works of merit, but by faith in Jesus. To paraphrase verse one, “Since, then, we have been justified by faith, here are some of the results and blessings of that justification.”
1. We have peace with God (1). Sin creates hostility with and separation from God (James 4:4; Isa. 59:1-2). But through faith in Jesus, fellowship is restored and God turns his back on our sins (Psa. 51:9).
2. We have access into God’s grace (2). Grace is not unconditionally given. We access all of the benefits of his grace when we stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting him (Eph. 2:4-9).
3. We have reason to rejoice in hope and in our sufferings (2-5). It is easy to rejoice in good times, but not so easy to rejoice in bad times. But when we consider the benefits of difficulties, we can improve our outlook (James 1:2-4).
4. We have the indwelling of God’s Spirit (5). The Spirit of God is given when one becomes a child of God (Acts 2:38; 5:32; Gal. 4:6). He serves as a “seal” and an “earnest” of future reward (Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22), and helps us in our growth and sanctification (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 8:13).
5. We have protection from the wrath of God (9-10). One of the intriguing lessons to consider from this text is that when Jesus saves us, he is saving us from God (Heb. 10:31; 12:29).
6. We have been reconciled (11). Sin caused separation. Through the death of Jesus we can be brought back into fellowship with God (Col. 1:21-22; 2 Cor. 5:18-20).
C. The above blessings were made possible because Jesus died for weak, ungodly, sinful enemies (6-8). It is a love that defies description and understanding (1 John 4:9-10)!
II. What We Lost in Adam, We Gain in Christ (5:12-21)
A. This section contains some of the more difficult statements in Romans. But its primary message is clear: while Adam’s disobedience opened the door for sin to be committed, Jesus’ obedience opened the door for salvation to be received.
B. First, let’s consider what Paul writes about Adam and his sin:
1. Sin entered the world through him (12).
2. Death (physical and spiritual) entered the world because of his sin (12).
3. Sin existed prior to the Law of Moses, and death reigned over all who sinned, even though their sins may not have been exactly like Adam’s sin (13-14).
4. Adam is a “type” of Christ (14). Wayne Jackson, in his helpful book, Biblical Figures of Speech, defines a “type” this way, “A type is a real, exalted happening in history that was divinely ordained by the omniscient God to be a prophetic picture of the good things he purposed to bring to fruition through Christ Jesus” (p. 126).
C. Second, consider what Paul writes about Jesus and his obedience. Regarding Adam and Jesus, the comparison is more in how they are different than in how they are alike (15-19).
1. Through Adam, many died; through Jesus, grace abounded (15).
2. Through Adam came condemnation; through Jesus, justification (16).
3. Through Adam, death reigned; through Jesus, life reigns (17).
4. Through Adam came sin and condemnation; through Jesus, justification and righteousness (18-19).
D. The Law of Moses was given “to increase the trespass” – that is, to shine a bright light on the sinfulness of man (20; cf. 7:7, 13). This was to increase man’s awareness of how much he needs God’s grace in Jesus (21).
Conclusion: A great summary statement for this section is the last part of Romans 5:20, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
Introduction: Having established that everyone – Jew and Gentile – stands in need of salvation due to personal sin, Paul now turns his attention to explaining the basis of the salvation offered in Christ. We are not justified by merit. God justifies us because we trust him to save us.
I. The Basis of Justification is Grace, Appropriated by Faith (3:21-31)
A. The “righteousness of God” (i.e., the justification that comes from God) is possible apart from works of law in general, and the works of the Law of Moses in particular (3:21).
B. The basis of justification is the same for all, the grace of God made possible by Jesus Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins (3:22-25a).
C. God’s amazing plan for the redemption of man allows God to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (3:25b-26).
D. Because we are declared righteous apart from meritorious works, we have no basis to boast (3:27-28).
E. God has decreed that both Jew and Gentile can be saved in the same way–on the basis of trusting, not earning (3:29-30). But this principle does no damage to the law. Rather, it harmonizes with it (3:31).
II. Abraham: and Example of Justification by Grace Through Faith (4:1-25)
A. Paul will explain in this chapter that the greatest hero of the Jews, Abraham, found justification through his trust in God, not any meritorious system of law.
B. Had Abraham been justified by merit, he would have plenty of reasons to boast. But the Scriptures are clear that what was put on his account as “righteousness” was his faith (Gen. 15:6), not meritorious works (4:1-8).
1. Paul explains the difference between grace and merit. When one works for pay, his wages are not counted as a gift (4:4).
2. But the one who doesn’t attempt to earn justification, but trusts in the one who can justify the ungodly, “his faith is counted as righteousness” (4:5-6).
C. Pious Jews placed inordinate value on circumcision, to the point that it was viewed meritoriously–that is, they believed that circumcision, in and of itself, obtained God’s approval (cf. Acts 15:1-5; Gal. 2:1-21; 5:6).
D. In 4:9-12, Paul reminds the Jewish Christians in Rome that Abraham was justified by faith long before he was ever circumcised.
1. The blessing of justification is not reserved for the circumcised only, and Abraham’s justification prior to circumcision proves that (4:9-10).
2. The fact that Abraham was counted as righteous because of his faith, and not because of his circumcision, is proof that he is the father of all who trust God for salvation, Jew or Gentile (4:11-12).
E. The promises that God made to Abraham regarding the blessings that would come through his descendants were made long before the Law of Moses ever came to be (4:13-15).
F. If the blessings promised through Abraham required perfect law-keeping, no one would enjoy them. That’s why those blessings are obtained through trusting God for them (4:16-17).
G. Abraham’s strong faith (4:18-21) was placed on his spiritual account as righteousness, not just for his sake alone, but for ours, too. If we follow in his steps, we will be justified in the same way he was (4:22-25).
A. God blesses us, not because of who we are, but because of who he is (4:1-4; 1 John 4:19). God did not choose to bless Abraham because he owed Abraham.
B. There are four important terms used in this section that help us to understand our salvation:
1. Justification (3:24, 26, 28, 30) – a judicial term that denotes vindication, or receiving a favorable verdict. When we are justified, God drops the charges.
2. Redemption (3:24) – a financial term that denotes a payment of ransom. When we are redeemed, God pays for our release from captivity.
3. Propitiation (3:25) – a sacrificial term denoting the appeasement of righteous anger. Through the death of Jesus, the righteous demands of God’s nature are satisfied.
4. Accounting (4:11, 23-24) – another financial term that refers to a mathematical calculation that would be placed in a ledger. When we trust God for salvation, he places “righteousness” on our spiritual ledger.
Conclusion: Few Bible doctrines offer as much hope and peace as the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. We would all be hopelessly doomed to eternal torment if our salvation were contingent on our personal perfection.
- Salvation is God’s gift to us (1:4; 2:16, 20; 3:8, 13-14, 26-29; 4:4-5; 5:1; 6:8).
- Doctrinal purity is non-negotiable (1:6-9; 2:4-5; 4:16; 5:7-9).
- It matters what we believe (1:6-9; 3:1-5; 5:7-9).
- We cannot serve God and man at the same time (1:10; 5:11).
- The Scriptures are inspired of God (1:11-12).
- God is no respecter of persons (2:6; 3:28).
- Christian fellowship is wonderful (2:9; 4:13-14; 6:2, 10).
- We should not be hypocrites (2:11-14).
- Sometimes sin must be rebuked publicly (2:11-14).
- Justification is by faith, not meritorious works (2:16-21; 3:1-14, 21-23; 4:1-5; 4:22-31).
- The gospel of Christ produces freedom from the bondage of law (3:10-14, 23; 4:1-7, 22-31; 5:1).
- The Law of Moses fulfilled its purpose (3:19-29).
- All Christians, regardless of race, are descendants of Abraham (3:29; 6:16).
- It is possible to fall from grace (5:4).
- Freedom in Christ is not license to sin (5:13-15).
- We should walk by the Spirit (5:16-18, 22-23, 25; 6:8).
- We should avoid the works of the flesh (5:16-17, 19-21, 24).
- We should restore the erring (6:1).
- We reap what we sow (6:7-8).
- Rewards belong to those who endure (6:9).
Exodus does not merely tell the facts about the life of Moses, the ten plagues, the Jewish people escaping Egyptian slavery, and the Ten Commandments. It draws the reader ever closer to the God who made all that happen. What do we learn about God in the book of Exodus?
God Keeps His Promises. God had promised Abraham that he would make a great nation out his descendants (Gen. 12:2; 15:12-16). The book of Exodus emphasizes God’s intention to fulfill those promises (Exo. 2:24; 3:6–8, 15–17; 4:5; 6:2–8; and also 32:13).
God Wants to Be Close to His People. One of the themes emphasized in this great book is God’s presence among his people. He appears to Moses (3:1-4:17). He descends to the top of Sinai in the presence of the people (19:16-20). He shows himself to Moses, Aaron, and 72 leaders (24:9-11). He reveals his glory to Moses (34:1-10). Most of the second half of the book (chapters 25-40) focuses on the tabernacle, through which God promised to dwell among them (29:43-46; 40:34-38).
God Can Still Use Those Who Struggle With Self-Confidence. In chapters 3 and 4 Moses wrestles with accepting God’s charge to deliver the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. Moses saw nothing in himself that would qualify him for the task God set before him (3:11). He didn’t want to be asked a question that he could not answer (3:13). He was fearful that the people wouldn’t believe him if he did answer (4:1). He didn’t think he was eloquent enough to effectively communicate what God wanted (4:10). But God’s consistent responses changed the focus from who Moses was to who God is (3:12, 14; 4:5, 11-12), and that made all the difference.
God Deserves the Credit for Our Victories. We succeed only by the power he supplies (13:9, 14; Col. 1:29; Eph. 3:16). “Our God will fight for us” (14:14).
The Laws of God are Tests of Our Faith (15:25-26). How we relate to God’s commands tells us the nature of our relationship to God himself (cf. John 14:15; 15:14; 1 John 5:3). We cannot successfully argue that we have faith in God if we consistently live without regard for his instruction.
God Deserves to be Feared (20:18-21). Interestingly, Moses says in Exodus 20:20, “Do not fear” and then says that “the fear of him” should be before the people. The first reference to fear in that verse is connected to the end of verse 19. They were afraid that God was trying to kill them. Moses is telling them not to be afraid of that. The second reference is to the proper fear of God, which includes the dread of punishment for wrongdoing as well as the offering of reverence that God deserves. In that sense, it is proper to fear God (Prov. 1:7; Psa. 19:9; Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 5:11; Heb. 10:31; 12:28-29).
God Deserves to be Worshiped (20:22-26; 22:20, 29-30; 23:13-19). God instructed the people to build altars “in every place where I cause my name to be remembered” (20:22-26). In addition, there were three times each year that the people were to observe feasts: the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Harvest, and Ingathering (23:14-17). These celebrations reminded the people of God’s worthiness to be praised. All of the instructions regarding the tabernacle, its furniture, and the work of the priests (chapters 25-40) also stressed the importance of their worship to God (Psalm 18:3; 29:1-2; Rev. 4:11; 5:12-14).
There is tremendous practical value in studying the Old Testament (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). The book of Exodus reminds us to trust God, draw near to God, be confident in God, be grateful to God, obey God, fear God, and worship God. Those are reminders we need every day.