The Very Thing He Warned Us Of…Romans 9-11 pt 16

For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;  Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.(Romans 11:15-22)

Remember that the reason for Romans, chapter 9-11 is to explain why the Gentiles were pouring into the newly born Christian church, while the Jews were only coming in small amounts. Wasn’t this a Jewish religion, featuring Jewish prophets and Jewish apostles, and wasn’t it the gospel of a Jewish Messiah?

The church in Rome underwent four phases; first of all dating from Pentecost, it was predominantly Jewish. Secondly, as the light of Revelation increased, Gentiles began to be evangelized and saved into the early church. The third phase commenced when Claudius threw the Jews out of Rome, (Acts 18:2) and the church became almost entirely Gentile. The last phase of the church commenced after Nero called the Jews to come back into Rome, and the Messianic remnant returned to join an almost entirely gentile church.

Huge numbers of Gentiles had swelled the ranks of the church, and the Jewish remnant was only a minority. Some kind of replacement theology became the explanation for this, which Romans 9-11 attempts to refute.

The future of the church was gentile, with a remnant of Jews, elected of God. The born again gentiles would be tempted to draw the wrong conclusions, comparing themselves in their current state of grace, with the Jewish nation, currently estranged from God.

What Paul warned of was forgetting that our original lump of sourdough is entirely Jewish. All true religion is in unbroken continuity with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Everything ‘Christian’ comes out of that “Lump”. What the Lump of the church was originally is what the true church is. It is not physical affinity with Abraham and the fathers, but inward spiritual affinity with them that counts.

The second allegory is that of the root and the branches. Israel is like an ancient, cultivated olive tree, whose branches had become unproductive and had to be cut off. The tree has not been uprooted, only the branches were cut off.Those branches were not thrown away, they were placed on the ground beneath the tree, and have been dormant now for two thousand years.

The gentile church are wild olive branches which were cut off of their own useless, wild, sour, bitter fruit producing trees and grafted into the older, cultivated stock. Thus the branches are now nourished on the rich, fruitful heritage of Jewish prophets, apostles, teachings and worship, and above all, are grafted into the life of the Jewish Messiah.

Christians who despise Jews, or who theologically relegate them to the dustbin of salvation history, are doing the very thing Paul warned us not to do. They wrongly “boast against the branches” laying on the ground underneath the tree.  We gentiles were allowed to live and thrive in the Jewish tree, the stock of Israel, the roots of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob, and the God of Israel.

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.(Ephesians 2:11-13)

Even now the Presbyterian church USA has been rewriting the scriptures, in conjunction with Palestinian Christians , stripping the Bible of all favorable references to Jews! Many Calvinists and especially the hyper Calvinists see no significance in the miracle of May 1948, because their theological system tells them God is through with the Jews! This in spite of prophecies proclaiming it as a sign of the latter times.

The Roman Catholic church is currently telling Israel to vacate the land of Israel, since it is ‘Arab land’.

This false belief in and commitment to replacement theology literally blinds Christians of all denominations to the program of God, especially to eschatology.

The true church began as a Jewish religion, and it’s consumption in history will be the restoration of the ‘cut off” branches of the Jewish people returning to God in the Messiah.

It was unbelief that cut off the Jewish branches. Should we imagine that God will deal with the Gentile church in a different fashion? Already many expressions of the church are as devoid of God as the temple was when the Shekinah left it in the days of Ezekiel. When does a church stop being a church? When God himself forsakes it.

Is the Homosexual ordinating church still a church? Are people not literally worse off for associating with it? Is the compromising “Chrislam” church still a church? It was when Israel began to accommodate Pagan spirituality that God cut her off, are we going to be any different? What about the church whose Bishops deny the resurrection?

What do we make of churches which promote the liberal agenda, such as abortion on demand? Are they any different from the Moloch accommodating King Manasseh? Will not the same Gd judge us every bit as harshly as He judged Israel? Are we better than they, or more deserving?

Paul warned us, that rather than indulge in replacement theology, and despise our estranged Jewish forbearers, we should fear God.  We must remember that we stand by faith in the grace of God, and there is nothing special about us. The jews are the ‘natural branches, not we. God didn’t spare them, he cut them off after long forbearance, for unbelief. Can the church somehow be expert from the same fate, when she indulges in the same idolatry and unbelief?

 

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Israel Is (Temporarily) Blinded…Romans 9-11 pt 15

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.  (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.   And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:  Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.  I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.  Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? (Romans 11:7-15)

How is it that Israel, as a whole, has yet to enter into the “New Covenant made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…” that Jeremiah prophesied? Instead, those who are blessed to participate in the New Covenant of God, i.e.the church, has overwhelmingly consisted of gentiles.

Israel sought after Righteousness, but other than a tiny remnant, (the elect), the rest of Israel rejected the Righteousness of God which is by faith in the Messiah, and sought to establish her  own righteousness.

As a consequence, Israel has temporarily been judicially blinded, and deafened as Moses,Isaiah and numerous other prophets warned of. The full txt of the Isaiah portion that Paul quotes, is

Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed:(Isaiah 29:9-11)

As a consequence of continual unbelief, Divine judgment has come upon almost the entire nation. Judicial blindness, spiritual drunkenness and stupor, deafness and inability to perceive. This is why Israel cannot see the Messiah in texts such as Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 and other obvious references and predictions fulfilled in Jesus.

Paul also cites the imprecations of Psalm 69, that “their table become a snare to them…”. The expressionTheir table” refers to the security of those who sit at a full table feasting, unaware of a sudden destruction. It is the same idea as the New Testament saying, “When they say Peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes upon them as a snare”.

The request that “Their table become a snare…” follows the lamentation of David that would be seen as a prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah,

Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.(Psalm 69:21-22)

Paul asks, “…have they stumbled that they should fall?”, ( utterly and absolutely) , to which the answer is ‘God forbid’! Israel’s fall is not absolute nor is it permanent.

Moses warned Israel from the beginning, in the song God gave him to teach the entire nation, that because of her obstinate unbelief, and faithlessness, God would make her jealous by another people who are not a people,

And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.  They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.(Deuteronomy 32:20-21)

Because of Israel’s fall, God simply turned to the gentiles, a “foolish nation” which wasn’t even seeking Righteousness, and which had not been trained from youth to accept the Messiah. He opened our eyes, and drew us unto himself, bestowing the riches of His grace on idolaters, and gross sinners.

The (temporary) fall of Israel from the Grace of God has been such a blessing to the gentiles, enriching the world with such things as the Church, Judeo Christian civilization, the light of scripture,deliverance from demonic paganism, knowledge, hope, love, humility and a host of other gifts.

Since this is manifestly obvious to any discerning person, Paul the Apostle of God asks us,

What then, do you think the restoration of Israel will mean to the world?  

Israel’s restoration to her position as Priests, teachers and preachers, will mean nothing less than a resurrection from the dead for the whole world.

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:  If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.  For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (Romans 11:13-15)

As the patient Father awaited the prodigal, God awaits the final repentance and acknowledgment of His people,Israel.  He has gone to the place from which He came, Hosea says, until they acknowledge their offense.(Hosea 5:14-15)

All of this sin cursed and weary Creation is awaiting this restoration. There must of necessity be birth pangs to bring it to pass, and many dreadful things must occur before the new day dawns, but it is a certainty, that when Israel is finally re-instated to her former position as “Priests and ministers of God”, the world itself will enter into a sabbath rest, the Millennium will commence ,

And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.  For I the Lord love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.(Isaiah 61:4-8)

 

 

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God Has Not Cast Away His People(Israel)…Romans 9-11 pt 14

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,  Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.  But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.  Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.(Romans 11:1-6)

Romans chapters nine through eleven are meant to be understood as one unified whole. If you were to just read Romans 9 and 10 and not eleven, you would be tempted to think that the God of the Bible is finished with His ancient people.

Romans 9 tells us that only a small believing remnant of Israel is Israel anyway, and as for the rest of the physical seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they are similar to Pharoah in that God has hardened their hearts, after years of their own resistance to His will.

Romans 10 tells us that Israel for the most part has stubbornly refused the free gift of Righteousness by faith in Jesus Messiah, instead seeking to establish a righteousness of their own, more in keeping with works based, self salvation. Furthermore Romans 10 tells us that Israel has no excuse, for the prophets, Apostles and the Messiah himself were all sent with the message of Righteousness by faith and substitutionary salvation, but Israel stubbornly refused to hear it.

Instead, Gentiles, who weren’t looking for Righteousness, have found it, when they heard the preaching of the Jewish Messiah, who loved them and gave himself for our sins. Now the Gentile world is flocking to the Jewish God, and drinking from Him, the “Fountain of Living Water”, whole the nation of Israel itself is drinking out of “broken cisterns” that hold no water.

But All day long the LORD hold’s out his hands to the disobedient and back talking Son, Israel.

But thankfully this passage which is a revelation of God, and a prophecy of the history which we are currently living, Doesn’t end with Romans 10.

“Has God cast away His people(utterly)”?

Perish the very thought of it! God is not through with the nation which is estranged from Him, He has a plan for them ,”For good and not evil, to give them an expected end”, as Jeremiah 29 prophesied.

Read the Song of Moses, or the 26th chapter of Leviticus, and see that God foresaw when he called Israel into existence that they would defect from Him, and go prodigal for centuries, and in the end return to Him to fulfill His plan for the world!

For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.(Hosea 3:4-5)

Remember Elijah? He thought he was the last faithful Israelite, but God assured Him that HE(God) himself had reserved to himself seven thousand who would not bow the knee to Baal.

Of course Israel doesn’t deserve these favors! Israel is a microcosm of the whole world. If Israel doesn’t deserve grace, neither do you and I? If anyone has a problem with Israel, they have a problem with the grace of God.

This is the grace of God, in love choosing and preserving a believing remnant and insuring the survival and integrity of the holy nation forever. Obviously the church hasn’t replaced Israel! God knew all along what was going to happen. The climax of History will be the restoration and reinstatement of Israel as the sacred nation of Priests and teachers of the whole world. The mouth of the Lord hath spoken it!

Read and understand well the prophecy of Jeremiah,

Thus saith the Lord; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.  Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Lord hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.(Jeremiah 33:20-27)

It would be more likely that the sun not rise and the stars not shine, than that God should ever cast away the “Seed of Jacob and David” his servant.God has a beautiful plan for Israel, and which will involve blessing and restoration to them and to the whole world.

 

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Has Israel Heard The Good News?…Romans 9-11 pt 13

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 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.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  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?  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!(Romans 10:11-15)

The Gospel is wonderfully simple, but that very simplicity has proven to be a stumbling block to Israel. They wanted a Righteousness that one could really work at, and take pride in, righteousness as an accomplishment, something only the notably  “Holy” could achieve to the honor and praise of others.

But it pleased God to provide a righteousness that all of broken, ruined and sinful humanity could access. Neither Gentile or Jew could be saved from sin in any other way, than through faith in Jesus Christ, who freely gave himself to God as a willing sacrifice for our sins. It is in the richness of the grace and generosity of God, that man can be reconciled to Him,  “Whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

Had Israel listened to the prophet Jeremiah they would have realized  that by grace, all boasting is excluded, because salvation is by faith alone. The only true boast man could make , would be that he knows God, and that even that knowledge is a gift,

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.(Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Here Paul anticipates an argument to justify Israel’s inability to receive the gospel,‘Why didn’t preachers come and tell Israel the gospel?’.

But countless preachers had been sent to Israel, bringing the message of justification by Faith, to the exclusion of works, and emphasizing the inadequacy of works righteousness.

How would Adam and Eve been saved? Moses explains in Genesis 3 that they believed in the original gospel promise, of the seed of the woman. How was Abraham justified? Moses tells us in Genesis “Abraham believed God and it was counted for Righteousness”! 

Prophet after Prophet and preacher after preacher came unto Israel, culminating in John the Baptist and then the Son of God himself, preaching salvation by grace and not works. After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended He sent forth the Apostles with the same message. Israel cannot say she wasn’t told.

Faith comes by Hearing and hearing by the Word of God, but Israel refused to hear John, Jesus and the Lord’s Apostles for the most part. They were all apostles, Jesus was sent from Heaven, John was sent and Jesus’ disciples were anointed and sent, but rejected by Israel.The very word ‘apostle’ means “sent one’.

But just like Isaiah, who Paul quotes here , about the “Beautiful feet of those sent to preach good news”, 

Paul anticipates another argument on behalf of Israel, “ Has she had an opportunity to really hear and understand the gospel’?

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.  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.  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.  But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.(Romans 10:18-21)

In response He quotes the 19th Psalm which tells us that no one has an excuse because the Whole earth is the receptacle of the sound of the Word of God. Israel heard alright.

But Israel has proven to be stubborn, according to the Psalm of Moses, in which he predicted their whole history, from the very beginning to the end of time, warning Israel that Since she would provoke God to jealousy by idols, God would provoke her to jealousy by the gentile,’non-people’.

The Gentiles which didn’t concern themselves with Righteousness anywhere near as much as Israel, would be found of God, and flock to Jesus the Messiah. They weren’t looking for Him , but they found him and were enriched.

As for the Jews, for the time being, Isaiah complains in the name of God, that though he stretches pout his hands to them, they ignore him and even talk back to Him.

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Confession is Made unto Salvation…Romans 9-11 pt 12

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.(Romans 10:8-11)

Israel is currently exiled from her high calling as the Holy Nation of Priests and Evangelists of the New Covenant. Why?

According to the apostle Paul, it is due to Israel’s ignorance of the true nature of Righteousness (Right Standing) with God, and because of her stubborn insistence that  she could construct a Righteousness of her own, earning God’s favor through the performance of ‘Mitzvot’, i.e.  good works.

She has rejected  the Righteousness that God has provided, which is simple faith in the Messiah Jesus, who came  and died for our sins upon a Roman cross, but who was proven to be the Son of God, when God raised Him from the dead on the third day.

True Right Standing with God can only be entered into by the one who is willing to “Confess with His mouth the LORD Jesus, and Believe in His heart that God has raised him from the dead.”

This ‘Righteousness’  through a substitution sacrifice, is contemptible to the proud do-gooder religionists. There is nothing in it that is glorifying to man, in fact it is deeply humbling because it presupposes the total spiritual bankruptcy of mankind, and brings glory to the mercy of the Holy God.

We have examined how the ongoing belief that Jesus is the LORD, that is God in the flesh, transforms the sinner into a saint. The most determinate aspect of any person is what he believes, rightly or wrongly, about God.

When a rebellious sinner’s heart is broken by the gospel which tells him that the eternal God humbled himself and became a man, in order to save him, this belief wrests the control of sin and rebellion from the heart, and restores the sinner into what He was intended to be, a worshipper of the only true God!

Now Paul tells us that “Confession (of the Lord Jesus) is made unto salvation”.

What is it about the confession of Jesus that saves us?

There are many terms for salvation, because it is a multi-faceted experience, which we will admire for eternity, never plumbing the depths of the mystery of it. We speak of being “born Again”, and becoming a “New Creation”, being “crucified with Christ”, “reconciled to the Father”, “Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb”, and “Justified”, “Washed”, renewed”.

Each of these expressions and many more, focus on one aspect of the mystery of salvation, and each address different aspects of that out of which we are being saved.

When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, we are told he exhorted his hearers, to

“… Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40)

What did He mean by this terminology? The Apostle was telling his hearers that one of things they need to be rescued from is their own generation, the age they were living in. They urgently needed to turn to Christ and to be willing to be identified in and with Him, that they not perish with their own (perishing) generation.

When we confess openly, with our mouth that “Jesus is Lord”, we are ‘saved’, i.e. separated out from among this “Wicked generation”. Confession is a very powerful way of identification. Identification with Jesus in the midst of the Messiah rejecting world, glorifies God.

Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.(Luke 12:8-9)

The perishing, hell bound world confesses that ‘man is LORD’ or that ‘SELF is Lord’ or even that ‘Caesar is LORD’, or ‘Allah is LORD’, but the Christian subscribes to a different confession, and that confession separates him from all others.

What are we saying when we say Jesus is LORD? We are proclaiming that God became a man and dwelt among us. As Paul tells us, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself…”. We cannot truly say “Jesus is LORD’ but by the Holy Spirit.

The confession of Jesus is ongoing, it is not a one time experience. We take up the good confession, bearing it as Jesus bore the cross in his time. By our adherence to it, we are “Crucified to the world, and the world is crucified unto us…” for the confession that Jesus is LORD upends every worldly supposition about both God and man.

The Righteousness of God that the Jews have thus far refused to ‘submit to’, is attained by simple faith in Jesus, His death, resurrection and Deity.

Forme it was in the simplicity of a prayer something like this, that I found God, and peace with God;

“Jesus I believe that you died for my sins, and that God has raised you from the dead. I admit that you are LORD, Jesus you are my God. Come into my life, and wash away my sins and save my soul.”

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With The Heart Man Believes Unto Righteousness…Romans 9-11 pt 11

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.(Romans 10:8-11)

What does God require of  any sinner, Gentile or Jew? Righteousness cannot be attained by any system of works, God cannot be indebted by bankrupt sinners in any way. What God requires is that we all believe in our heart, that God raised Jesus from the dead, and confess with our mouth that He (Jesus) is the LORD.

How is it that believing in the heart brings a man into Righteousness? Why does God require belief?

First of all, when the way of Righteousness is simple faith, there can be no personal glory allotted to any man. All of the glory goes to the God who has made salvation possible.

Faith has an object, God. In heaven the multitudes sing, “Salvation belongs to God, who sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb…”.

Secondly,the most important thing about any person, and the determining factor of anyone’s life for good or evil, is what He or She believes about God. A person’s moral, spiritual, ethical, intellectual and emotional destiny is determined by whether or not they hold the right view of God. All of our personal problems are in fact at the root, Theological problems.

Where did Adam and Eve go wrong? They fell when they entertained a malicious notion about their Creator, that He had been withholding something good from them out of a sense of petty jealousy. The lies people believe about God are the corrupting influence of their whole lives.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.(Genesis 3:4)

The Serpent told all of us a series of lies about God, thus we are all estranged from Him, who is the source of our life, and the only true ground of our happiness.

The gospel sets the record straight about God, and in the process, puts our ruined lives back together again, restoring us to the extent that we ,”grow in grace Through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue”, as the apostle Peter tells us.

It is “Seeing Him, as He (truly) Is…”, that transforms us, breaking the power of sin and unbelief. Thus the highest duty of the believer is the worshipful beholding of Him, as in a glass.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.( 2 Cor 3:18)

The fall of man has further distorted our belief about God, rendering all of us unworthy, and unable to worship Him. We cannot ‘see’ him because we are estranged from him, and have become slaves to our own desires. Our fallen hearts have virtually become an “idol factory”, manufacturing ‘Gods’ in our own image and likeness, as projections of our own fallen lusts and desires.

Believing the serpent’s lie, we want to become ‘gods’ ourselves, making our own rules, and seeking our own ‘salvation’, which is self-realization of some form or other.

But in the Gospel, the invisible God presents himself to us again, for Christ is “the image of the invisible God”, he is none less than “God with us”,Immanuel.

Furthermore the gospel gives us something new to believe about God, for God has done something unprecedented in Christ. God became a man, He humbled himself and even became obedient, taking on himself the form of a servant.What does this do to the heart that accepts this revelation of God?

Faith in the gospel of the incarnation alone is what we need to ‘dethrone’ the haughty, false, SELF god we have been enslaved to in our hearts. We don’t want to be ‘god’ anymore, for we have seen a vision of the true God, who ‘humbled himself’, and ’emptied himself’ of all of his Divine prerogatives, in order to Righteously save us from our sins.

Thus we sing with trembling lips,

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

 but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,

and was made in the likeness of men:

and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,

and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.(Phillipians 2:5-11)

 

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Jesus Is Lord; The Stumbling Stone…Romans 9-11 pt 10

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  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.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.(Romans 10:9-13)

Israel, the nation created by God, separated, taught and trained to recognize and receive the Messiah, and to first come into the new covenant of righteousness promised by God, has for the most part failed to do so. Why?

Israel has stumbled over a stumbling stone.

It’s not that the way of Salvation was too hard, it’s that it was too simple. (I didn’t say ‘easy’,I said simple, i.e. uncomplicated).Israel wanted a Righteousness of works, one which would allow them to glory in their own efforts to please God.

But God’s righteousness presupposes total moral and spiritual bankruptcy, therefore He has made a way for all men, Jew and Gentile , to be reconciled to Him through the Messiah,Jesus.

The only way to be saved is to recognize that Jesus of Nazareth, who died on a Roman cross, is the LORD.

Israel would have to realize and confess that the man who dwelt among them in the first century, admittedly doing signs and wonders, and whom they rejected and crucified, was and is indeed, no less than the LORD of scripture.

How would you ever convince avidly monotheistic worshippers of the one true God, whose most sacred creed is the Shema*, an emphatic declaration of the Oneness of God, to acknowledge a man as God?

There were prophetic indications that God would come among them, and calls to be prepared, and ready to receive Him.For example, Malachi proclaimed before the long silence,

“The Lord whom you seek, shall come suddenly to His temple, but who may abide the day of His coming and who may stand when he appears?”(Malachi 3)

Isaiah also foretold that in the coming one, “All flesh would see the glory of the LORD…”(Isaiah 40)

There are untold hundreds of references and inferences also that JHWH would personally come to His people.

One of the major ways to recognize Him would be to see that the various prophecies present a set of credentials, they are the details and conditions in which He would come.

Jesus pointed to those prophecies which indicated the coming of God, as being fulfilled in Him. He warned the Jews that unless they believe that He is God, they would die in their sins.

He claimed to be Jacob’s Ladder, and the Good Shepherd (Ezekiel 34), as well as David’s LORD, refered to in Psalm 110. Part of the reason Jesus was put to death, was because of His claim to be God, the LORD.

“Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins… “ and “ Before Abraham came I AM…”. “I Am the way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by me…”.

There were thousands of Jews, equally monotheistic, who were able to make the confession that Jesus is the LORD. How could they make such a bold claim and hold onto it through the darkest persecutions? Even some of Jesus’ bitterest detractors came to make the confession,  for example Saul of Tarsus, who changed his name to Paul, actually applied the JAHWEH scripture passage in Isaiah 45, to Jesus , in Philippians 2,

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.  Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.  In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.(Isaiah 45:22-25)

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.(Phillipians 2:9-11)

Jesus of Nazareth had two half brothers, James, and Jude who were strict, monotheistic Jews, and who didn’t believe in Him at first. (How would you feel if your brother said something in public, like, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…”)?

But in later years James called Jesus, “The LORD of Glory”(James 2), and Jude, his other brother, called jesus, “The only wise God and our Savior…”(Jude 20-24). How do you get a strictly monotheistic believer to acknowledge their half-brother as God?

This transformation required a resurrection. Paul, James, Jude, and the hundreds of other first century Jews who comprised the early church all knew that Jesus had been “crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died and was buried…”, but they all saw him very much alive again, after three days in the tomb.

Even Thomas made the confession. He knew Jesus had died, and he wasn’t going to believe any “spiritualized” resurrection myth. Unless I see the wholes in His hands and in his side, I won’t believe”. But when Jesus allowed Thomas to put his hand in Jesus’ side, Thomas fell on His knees, and cried out “My Lord and My God!”.

Thomas, Paul, James and Jude, wouldn’t be the last Jews to confess Jesus as Lord, One day the entire nation will do so, but what will that take?

  * Shema Yisrael,Adonai,Elohenu, Adonai Echad!-“Hear Oh Israel, The Lord thy God is One Lord!”

 

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