Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Studying Romans (Part 5)

This is  part of a continuing series of posts from a Protestant Bible Study of which I am a part on Facebook. To read more just search "Studying James" and "Studying Romans" on this blog...

This week we move on to Romans 9-12:

I have three main ideas I picked up on…

1) This verse jumped out at me…
Romans 10:12-13 “For 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; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
This reminded me of the flowing words spoken by Jesus…
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
I think Paul is stressing the idea that Gentiles now have access to the Jewish God. When Gentiles now call on the name of the Lord, they “have His ear” because of the Grace of Christ. So, salvation is now open to them. But obviously, Jesus tells us that more is expected. Only calling on the Lord does not save you; we must also obey His commands.

2) I think it is pretty clear that throughout the text of Romans Paul is stressing the issue of “Jews vs. Gentiles,” especially contrasting the Old Law (Works) with the New Law (Grace). Works are still important and necessary (as James states). But Christianity is based on Grace.
In these later chapters of Romans, Paul wants to be clear that this does not mean that the Jews are lost or that they should be looked down upon as though cast aside by God…
Romans 11:25-28 “For 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; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’ ‘This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
This reminds me of John 4:22 - “…salvation is from the Jews.” I often ponder what role the Jewish people have played and will continue to play in salvation history.

3) Finally, I recall this passage…
Romans 12:3 “…God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…”
The idea of the Church as “Body of Christ” is, I believe, essential for understanding the purpose of the Church and the importance of membership in the Church. By belonging to the Church we are incorporated into Christ’s Body. And each member has a different role to play. Paul returns to this theme elsewhere in his writing.
I also think that the “Body of Christ” which we receive at the Lord’s Supper (Communion/Eucharist) is important in this context. We receive His Body (Communion) and we become members of His Body (the Church). The two are linked.
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