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The Drama of Redemption 1.

18/02/2017

The Drama of Redemption – Introduction

Reading: Romans 9:1-5
In Romans, Chapters 9, 10 and 11 are closely related. They unfold for us some of the truths concerning God’s sovereignty and providence, using the people of Israel as a background. Now. because these chapters contain many references to Israel, we ought to ask the question, “When Paul refers here to Israel, who exactly does he mean?” There is no doubt that one theme running through the chapters is Jewish unbelief and the problems that it raised. Why did the covenant people of God fail to recognise their Messiah and crucify Him? How did the conversion of the Gentiles fit in with God’s plan and purpose? What future do the Jews and the Gentiles have, in God’s mind? The passages in chapters 9-11 deal with Israel’s past, present and future! Let’s see:-

1. The Relationships that are being Addressed.
These chapters concern the relationships between the Gentiles and the Jews. The Jews, everyone agrees, have had a unique position in God’s purpose. Paul has already made mention of This. Romans 1:16. Romans 2:9 Romans 2:17-20 Romans 3:1 Romans 3:29-31 Romans 4:1-5 Romans 6:14. Romans 7:1-5 Romans 8:2-5 So these chapters will address the balance between the Old Israel and the new situation, in which God’s people are both Jew and Gentile. But why was such a detailed explanation of the matter necessary?

2. The Reason for the Arguments
The great theme of Romans is justification. Romans is a systematic, thorough examination of Gospel truth. But Paul never wrote his letters to any church just to preach abstract theory. His writings were always pastoral and practical. There is a kind of sub text running through this book, it is the theme of UNITY THROUGH THE GOSPEL, and it is a theme that probably gives us some extra insight into why Paul actually penned this letter in the first place. In the New Testament, both Jews and Gentiles had to learn to live together as part of one church! Prior to this situation, they had avoided each other with enthusiasm! At Pentecost there were visitors from Rome in the crowd at Jerusalem. These people were Jews, or proselytes. Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. Acts 2:8-10. These people heard the Gospel, believed and were converted and went home to meet together as the church at Rome. So the Roman Church was purely a Jewish assembly. That is, it was up until 49AD. In that year the Emperor of Rome, Claudius, expelled all the Jews from Rome including the Jewish Christians. When they were finally permitted to return, upon the death of Claudius a few years later, there was a Gentile church at Rome! How would the Christians of the old Jewish church react to this? Romans 14:1-9. Paul insists that the true basis of the unity of the church is the GOSPEL!

3. The Reality of Ariel
So what of Israel in these chapters. Now there is one word of warning, which we must introduce here before we go further with the study of these chapters in the weeks ahead.
1. We must not confuse the biblical Israel with the modern state of Israel. There is no doubt whatsoever that the modern state of Israel has been deeply blessed of God. But it is a secular state! There are no theocracies in the world today. So because modern Israel has been blessed of the Lord, let us not assume that it has any special redemptive status before the Lord. How can I say this with such certainty?

  1. Not all of Israel is Israel! Romans 9:6 This is a concept, which we will return to again. God’s people are more than national Israel, and not all of Israel were sincere worshippers of the Lord! There are in fact 3 Israels! The state, the race, the Elect!
  2. The Israeli state is comprised of both Jews and non-Jews! National Israel, the nation that God has blessed in so many ways, does not confine its citizenship to Jews alone! So we cannot equate the Biblical Israel with modern Israel on that basis.
  3. God offers redemption to individuals, not to states!

2. We must be careful not to create a “third status’ exclusively for Jews. There are only two types of people in this world. Those that are saved, and those that are lost. Now I believe, along with many of you. that God has a plan for the Jews, and I pray that many of them will be saved. So did Paul. Look at Romans 11:1 But if they are to come to God, and be in heaven for all eternity, then they must come through the Lord’s death on the Cross-,just like any gentile! Romans 11:5-6. Galatians 3:26-28.
3. We must be careful to remember that God’s Israel includes the Gentile believers. God has only one people, that is the teaching of the Scriptures. Galatians 3:16 His chosen people, His elect in Christ. They are members of God’s elect only by one means, and that is by the way of the Cross. Galatians 3:29. God’s elect are God’s spiritual Israel, and so Paul could argue that one day all Israel will be saved. Romans 11:25-26. Israel will not be complete until the fullness of the Gentiles be gathered in! So, with all of that in mind, we have cleared the way to examine in 3 studies, (Ch9) Israel’s past, (Ch10) Israel’s Present, and (Ch11) Israel’s future!

Conclusion
1. Believers of different backgrounds, saved by sovereign grace, can surely live together as part of the body of Christ, united in one purpose. This is essential! Our only hope of unity is in the Gospel!
2. As believers, we must always keep before us the lessons of Israel, and be careful not to reject God’s truth, or to depart in unbelief from Him. Israel was unfaithful, and disobedient! Hebrews 4:1f
© Bob McEvoy

From → Bible Study, Romans

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