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Wednesday, September 30 2020
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
We had previously studied how the Gentiles became saved and became ingrafted into the body of Christ (Romans 11:11-24). The lesson reminded us of how Israel’s rejection of salvation paved way for the gospel to spread to the Gentiles who received the word of God with the fullness of salvation. Paul also considered his ministry to the Gentiles as an opportunity to spread the gospel to other nations but more so to his Jewish people. Although the Gentiles were not originally of Abraham but have now been engrafted as partakers of the blessings of Abraham through the salvation in Christ Jesus. Our focus on today’s study is on Romans 11:25-32 with emphasis on “All Israel Shall Be Saved”. The rejection of Christ by the Jews was a mystery itself (John 11:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not”) but this didn’t change God’s promise to Israel as His chosen (Isaiah 41:8 But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend). Therefore, as we progress in this study, we will understand that God’s prerogative is for all Israel to be saved is certain and unchanged despite their initial rejection of Christ.
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (NKJV)
Paul admonishes the believers about how God revealed His salvation to the Gentiles by temporarily hardening the hearts of the Jews should not be taken for granted at all. The Jews’ current blindness to the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ is but temporary because they are not even aware of their ignorance. The salvation of Gentiles came at this time so that they could also preach to the Jews’. The hardness of the heart of the Jews is not permanent but that the same message of Christ rejected by the Jews will now be preached back to the Jews by the Gentiles. This means that since Israel who is the chosen elect rejected God’s salvation, then God’s grace was also made available to the Gentile nations to receive the vastness of His salvation, and at the fullness of time, the Jews will eventually realize the magnitude of God’s salvation.
“26 And so all Israel will be [b]saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” (NKJV)
At this point, it seems as if it is only the Gentiles that are getting saved but the salvation of Israel is God part of God’s covenant to Israel and so Israel shall be saved as it was written. See also Isaiah 59:20 - ”The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, says the Lord”.Ezekiel 34:30 “Thus they shall know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord God”. But at this point, all Israel is a combination of both the true Jews and those by adoption provided they all believe in Jesus Christ. Note, after a while, God will release the grace for faith to the Jews receive Christ Jesus (in verses 23) because God has a covenant to take away their sins and if they repent from their unbelief, they will be engrafted in like the Gentiles as one people of God. For now, the gospel will continue to spread far and wide to all nations of the world until Christ’s coming when He will banish ungodliness from the house of Israel. See also Mathew 23:39 “I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.
“28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (NKJV)
At this point, Israel is described as a people who rejected the gospel of Christ and became an enemy against God’s salvation but we must still realize that according to God’s covenant with Abraham they are still His beloved. Now it may seem as if the Jews are God’s enemies but their rejection of the Christ resulted in the persecution of the early church which propelled the gospel of Christ to other parts of the world. This became an opportunity for us Gentiles to receive the gospel but regardless of this, the Jews are still a people loved by God, and His promise of salvation to Israel cannot be revoked.
“30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has [c]committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” (NKJV)
It is important to realize that we Gentiles who have received the salvation of Christ were not different from the Jews who reject Christ while we are still in ignorance. Both the Jews and Gentiles were both disobedient to God and now God’s mercy is available to us to repent from our sins and to receive Jesus as our Lord and saviour. This also calls for reflection to the Gentiles who are believers to appreciate the salvation of God upon their lives and that is why Apostle Paul often rebuked the Gentile churches who started compromising their salvation in sinful conducts such as in Galatians 3: 1, 1 Corinthians 5:1, 11:18, etc. At this point, God has decided to be merciful to all people either Jews or Gentiles so that we all can have the opportunity of eternal salvation.
The second coming of Christ is real and God desires that we who have already received Christ live a rapturable life so that we can go with the rapture. This is because the reign of the antichrist will begin after the rapture (This is also known as the Great Tribulation ) and it would be more difficult for people to receive the salvation of Jesus Christ but God’s mercy unto salvation would still be opened to the Jews. See also Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel. This is because God’s covenant to save Israel as His chosen people cannot be revoked (Romans 11:28). More so, all the promises of God in Him are Yea, and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Friday, September 25 2020
Contributor: Peter Folikwe
Review of last week’s study: The remnant of Israel.
In today’s study Paul takes us through how the Gentiles became saved by grace and were ingrafted into the body of Christ. This brings untold blessings to Gentiles that will make the Jews envious and come to accept Christ as Messiah. Ultimately, God’s originally purpose to save the whole world – Jews and Gentiles will become fulfilled.
“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” NIV
Here Apostle Paul refers to the notion within the body of Christ whereby some believe that God no longer regard the Jews as His chosen people, that the Christian church is now the Israel of God. Paul here says that is not the case.
In V11b Paul says that salvation came to the rest of the world (the Gentiles) because the Jews rejected the Messiah. That is true till date. Majority in Israelites hold the strong belief that the Messiah is yet to come. It was part of God’s plan for the Jews to reject salvation, so that God bring even more people to the saving faith in Jesus.
“Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it” NLT
Paul here is asking if the failure of the Jews to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah brought riches, blessing & salvation in particular to us - Gentiles, it is therefore unimaginable the blessings and riches the Gentiles will receive when the Jews eventually acknowledge Jesus as Messiah.
“13 I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, 14 for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them.” NLT
Paul considers his ministry to the Gentiles as a way of indirectly reaching out to his own people - the Jews. In pursuant of his ministry as an Apostle to the Gentiles, his belief is that the more the Gentiles believers, the better the chances of saving the unbelieving Jews.
Remember, Paul was not part of the original 12 Apostles selected by Jesus, until Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus.
Paul’s objective is to make Israelites jealous of the blessings of the Gentiles which should have been for the Jews, if not for their sheer disobedience and rejection of the Messiah. By this action Paul believes that the Jews will be won back to Christ which is God’s original plan for saving the world. Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
“15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,” NIV
Paul here drives the point home that if their rejection of Jesus Christ brought salvation and blessings to Gentiles, it connotes that their acceptance of Christ as the Messiah would bring untold blessings to the word, when they eventually do. That so many more people will be gained into the faith if the Jews believe the gospel.
Since Jesus (offered as firstfruit) the root/source of Salvation is holy, therefore all who accept Him as Lord and Saviour will be counted as holy – Jew and Gentile. Paul also metaphorically used the root of a tree (Abraham in this case) is holy, it means the branches (the children) of Abraham should also be holy (saints/sanctified). 1Pet 1:16 reminds us: “…. Be ye holy; for I am holy.” Paul declared that some of the branches (Abraham’s offsprings) have been broken off from their source.
In V17 the Bible says “And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in”.
So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.”
The Israelites were the natural branches, but we were grafted branches (e.g. Implantation of a donor tissue into another body). We were supernaturally grafted as branches to the root by God. Paul uses the olive tree here to represent God’s kingdom and those of us connected to it are like branches connected to a tree.
The root represents the good news (Gospel of Jesus) that feeds the branches (believers). Therefore, the branches do not support the root to survive but the other way round. The branches cannot survive without the root.
“18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”
Paul admonishes us - Gentiles not to be swollen headed because we replaced the original branches and enjoy the benefits accruing; just because they rejected Christ and we accepted Him. Paul warmed us to jealousy guard our salvation with humility, because verse 21 says “For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either.”
We need to constantly remember as grafted branches that the Israelites (the original) branches were cut off because of unbelief. It calls for us to guide our faith (salvation) with fear and trembling. Phil 2:12b “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
“19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”
Paul warns the Gentiles that it is possible to lose your faith when as a believer your cut yourself off from the gospel. Worship, prayer & fasting, the Word of God and the Holy communion are unique avenues through which believers’ faith are fed regularly, therefore you cannot afford to cut yourself from these sources of spiritual nourishment.
The branches can be broken from the root could also mean; believers cutting themselves off from the gospel all the time. It is the gospel that nourishes & sustains believers’ faith in Jesus. Just like a river do not cut itself form its source; otherwise it dries off.
“22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” NIV
Paul reminds us that God has shown kindness to us by reason of our faith - accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord & Saviour. He urges us to continue in the forgiveness message in Christ lest we harden our heart against God’s words and lose our faith. That God will not hesitate to cut us off as branches if we misbehave “And if the Jews do not persist in unbelief, they will ultimately be grafted in, for God is able to graft them back again to the original root.
Paul here reiterates that nobody is beyond salvation. Paul himself was saved. If Israel turns around to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, they have another opportunity to be grafted back to the original root.
Finally, Paul says if God could graft us - Gentiles (wild olives) to the original olive tree, God can graft the original branches back to the original olive tree with ease. God bless you.
Thursday, September 10 2020
Contributor: Clem Roberts
We have been able to ascertain that the law cannot redeem us, and that our righteousness is like filthy rags before God and only Christ can save us. We have also seen Paul’s eagerness for everyone to be saved. Bringing to light God’s ultimate desire for us all.
VERSES 14 – 15
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!
The sequence here is:
Sent => Preach => hear => believe
“Preach,” means “to be a herald, to announce,” and this is not limited to declaration from a pulpit! Paul quotes from Isa 52:7. Where the messenger announced to Judah that God had hath brought to end their Exile in Babylon
What Paul was doing here was applying Isaiah 52:7 using words and scriptures that the Jews of his day to whom the gospel was being given would understand.
This tell us how accurate and knowledgeable Paul is with reference to the scriptures.
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
If we focus on the word “Obeyed”: it means:
Again, Paul is quoting the introductory part of Isaiah 53. He is also giving them a reminder of the prophecies. Paul was enthusiastic in letting them know that they really do not have any excuse regarding their rejection of the Gospel. He pointed consistently that in all of the scriptures The Jews, you and I have been told that about the Messiah.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Our God speaks and still does to his people and the world. We only need incline our ear to Him and He will speak. When speaks, He expects obedience
VERSES 18 – 21
“18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. 19 But I say, did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. 20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. 21 But to Israel he saith, all day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
Understanding the message of Christ is the next step after hearing it. So Paul's logical question concerning Israel was; did they not understand this message? Israel was given the law and had the prophets and patriarchs as their guide. Israel had understanding of these things and lived daily by them. However, they were so indoctrinated by the letter of the law they missed the fact that this was a type or shadow of Jesus (Hebrews 10:1)
Isaiah foretold this. He saw that Gentiles would come to Jesus and accept the gospel message and Israel would reject it.
This has implications for us today. We can start out through faith in Jesus only to be yoked once again to the rules (or "law"). It is important to understand the truth of Jesus and what he did for you as a basis of how to live. We have died to the law through faith in Christ so we are free to live by the Spirit. Paul said in Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:20-21).
If we go back to religion, to the rules and doctrines of men, after we accept this marvellous grace then Christ died for nothing. We can nullify the word of God in our hearts by living according to man's rules and regulations. What a harsh reality.
In summary, Paul’s argument or conclusion is that Israel had plenty, sufficient, adequate and abundant opportunity, by all-purpose and distinctive revelation, to embrace God. For you and I, everything we see or hear has already been orchestrated for our benefit. God is giving us His Son and the one and only instrument of salvation.
Thursday, September 03 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Two weeks ago we looked at Paul's Anguish over Israel in verses 1-15 of Chapter 9. It was not enough for Paul to feel sorry for Israel. He wished he could demonstrate his love in an even more active way. Being ready to, like Christ, sacrifice himself for the salvation of his fellow Jews. In today’s study we will be considering how the Jews jeopardized their enviable position and what God, in His mercy offered His chosen people.
PART 1: THE RIGHT AND WRONG WAYS TO GOD (CHAPTER 9, VERSES 30-33)
“30 What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (NIV)
There is a right and wrong way to come to God. If we pursue the righteousness that we need to stand before God by our works, we will fail. If we come to God by faith in Christ, we attain righteousness, even if we were not previously pursuing it.
The Jews were trying to approach God through their works built on faith in their abilities to obey the commands; this wrong approach caused them to stumble over the stumbling stone, which is Christ. Romans 9:32b-33.
The reason the true Gospel offends is that it confronts our sinful pride (1 Cor. 1:29).
So God deliberately put Christ and Him crucified at the centre of salvation to humble our pride, which is the root of all of our sins. To come in faith to Christ, God must humble our pride. That leads us to the right way to come to Him: because salvation by human righteousness always falls short. We need God’s righteousness, imputed to us; this refers to justification, where God declares the believing sinner blameless and imputes (assigns) the very righteousness of Christ to that sinner’s account.
We cannot bring our best efforts and combine them with the righteousness of Christ. That muddies the pure water of His righteousness and it robs Him of glory. To follow Jesus, we must deny ourselves, especially deny our self-righteousness and good deeds as the basis for right standing with God. Salvation is not a joint project, where we try hard and let God do the rest. It is all of God.
PART 2: WHY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE MISS SALVATION (CHAPTER 10, VERSES 1-4)
“Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Once again, Paul starts off by expressing his desire and prayers for the salvation of the Israelites. He testifies of their zeal for God and then proceeds to answer the questions that would have been bothering the Romans. “If the Jews are God’s chosen people, why are most of them rejecting Christ?”
In his answer, he revealed that the Jews and all religious people often miss salvation
Israel failed to attain righteousness because they did not pursue the law by faith, but as if it could be attained by works. In so doing, they were only seeking to establish their own righteousness (10:3), which always falls short.
All roads do not lead to the top; being sincere or zealous is not enough. Good intentions are not good enough if they are mistaken about the truth of the Gospel. Religious zeal must always be tested against the core truth of the unchanging Gospel.
The Jews did not understand God’s saving righteousness, namely, that He imputes righteousness to the one who believes in His appointed substitute.
Verse 4 says: “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
This is a wonderful verse, but unfortunately it is one of the most disputed verses in all of Paul’s letters. The problem is that the word “end” (Greek, telos) has different nuances of meaning. It can mean “termination,” it can mean “goal,” (Gal. 3:23-25), and it can mean “fulfilment” or “culmination,” (Matt. 5:17). To understand what Paul was referring to here, we must combine verse 3 & 4. Verses 3 & 4 are saying that either you are seeking to be right with God by establishing your own righteousness through good deeds and morality (10:3), in which case you will miss God’s salvation, because all such attempts fall short. Or, you will recognize that you need perfect righteousness to stand before God. Thus you will abandon your own attempts to establish your righteousness and trust in Christ alone to be your righteousness (10:4). His perfect righteousness is credited to your account, so that God declares you to be righteous or justified. In other words, “Christ came to fulfil the law so as to make righteousness available for everyone who believes.”
PART 3: HOW TO BE SAVED (CHAPTER 10, VERSES 5-10)
“5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
In these verses, Paul contrasts the righteousness based on the law (verse 5) with the righteousness that comes through faith (verses 6-10). To be saved by keeping the law, you must keep it perfectly. But to be saved by faith, you trust in what God has done in sending His Son to die for your sins and raising Him from the dead. Salvation is not by keeping the law, but by faith in Christ.
So Paul’s point is that human effort is not necessary to procure God’s righteousness. God has done it all: He sent Christ. Christ died for our sins. God raised Him from the dead. All that we must do is to believe in this word that Paul was preaching. The fact that this word “is near you” (10:8) means that you don’t have to go through some difficult or impossible process like (ascending into heaven or descending into the abyss) to find Christ and be saved. Rather, you can believe in Him at this moment and be saved.
PART 4: GOOD NEWS FOR ALL (CHAPTER 10, VERSES 11-13)
“As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Verse 11 means that the Gospel is good news for all. Good news is only good news for you when you hear it and act on it. So we must preach it to one and all!
We have learnt why the Jews for the most part were rejecting Christ: they were trying to be saved by their own good works so that they stumbled over Christ. They missed God’s way of righteousness through faith in Christ. So the emphasis is on human responsibility and sin. We will see in future studies that although Israel rejected Christ because they were disobedient and obstinate (10:21); God’s sovereignty is still present. It is God’s sovereign plan to use the salvation of the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy, so that eventually they will turn to Christ (10:19; 11:11, 14).
Parts of this study was culled from https://bible.org (lessons 62-65)