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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for this day and for the opportunity to teach His Truths to those who demonstrate an interest in understanding the things God has revealed to those who love Him. I also thank the Lord for each one of you.
Since there are no questions from this group, I can assume we’re all on the “same page,” as it were and prepared to press on toward the goal. Our brother Paul explains: Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus – (knowing that) God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (and what’s God purpose for those who love Him – that they be conformed to the image of His Son). (Philippians 3:13-14; Romans 8:28-29)
Let’s start today’s lesson with a brief review.
Through chapters 9 and on into chapter 10 our Apostle Paul discusses the important issues of God’s choosing and His mercy, (the potter and the clay), how the nation of Israel stumbled over the chief cornerstone laid in Zion, and then he goes on to discuss the righteousness that is by faith (alone) and why Israel did not understand God’s prophetic program.
Moving into chapter 11, Paul speaks on the subject of God’s Good News going out to the nations and its effect this has had on his brethren - the Jews. This leads into his clarification that God did not reject His people, although a Divine partial hardening has come upon some of them and as a result of their transgression (crucifying God’s Son) salvation has come to the Gentiles. Once again this hardening is only partial, and temporal; partial in that it is not a permanent condition and it’s not on every individual Israelite. The Book of Acts account clearly demonstrates that most of the converts to Christianity at this time in history were individual Jews – Paul was one of these.
Paul magnified his ministry to the Gentiles, as he is the Apostle to the Gentiles, so that he might move some of his fellow countrymen to jealousy in order to save some of them. Paul then warns the Gentiles repeatedly about reaching the wrong conclusion concerning their salvation vs Israel’s rejection and becoming conceited or high-minded. In the same breath, Paul warned them not to lose their fear of God, and not to forget the kindness of God, otherwise (this is the flip-side) you also will be cut off. For unbelief leads to destruction and damnation or as Paul put it, severity. In short, Paul says the same fate that befell the Israelites, which you think so little of, is not to be scoffed at… (Romans 11:17-22)
Please open your Bible at Romans 11:23.
23: And they (the individual Israelites) also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
In verse 23 there is change from Paul’s usage of the word “you” (10 uses addressing Gentile Believers) to the word “they/them” (meaning Israelites). Now it isn’t just the possibility of Israelites being saved, as Paul continues his analogy, “grafted in;” Paul broaches the subject of Israel’s actual salvation by faith being a future reality.
Verse 23 asserts there’s a day coming when the blindness (or veil) will be lifted for some (like Paul for example who came to believe in Jesus Christ) and these Israelites will be grafted into God’s Kingdom Tree by faith for God is able to graft them in again. God has left the Door open for the unbelieving Jewish people and as this book puts it Jesus Christ is that Door.
The problem in Jeremiah’s day was the same as in Paul’s day. The Israelites believed that their covenant with Jehovah God was based on their heritage and their religious traditions rather than upon one’s faith. However, Paul preached that faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for your sins is the only way to be saved. Therefore, this makes Jesus Christ the one and only Door into the Kingdom: “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9; 14-6, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
Despite the numerous prophecies that reveal true Israel will not continue in unbelief these individuals will need to “see” to believe and Scripture accounts for this fact: “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will (what) look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10; 8-14).
Verse 23 is not saying there will be a corporate redemption of Israel in the future. There isn’t even a hint of this in Paul’s remarks. The nation of Israel cannot be “grafted” in only individual Israelites (like Paul) can. He continues this argument in verse 24.
24: For if you (Gentiles) were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these (individual Israelites) who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
I’m not a horticulturalist but as I understand the process, normally, you graft good olive branches upon a wild olive stock in order to produce good fruit. However, here God does it contrary to nature. He takes the wild olive branches (Gentiles) and grafts them into the good olive stock (Jesus Christ) on the condition of one’s faith. It’s their faith that changes these branches from wild to cultivated. This is contrary to nature.
This teaching is not exclusive to Romans. Please turn to Ephesians 2:11. For the sake of time we’ll drop in at verse 13: But now in Christ Jesus you (Gentiles) who were (what) formerly were far off have been brought near by (faith in) the blood of Christ.
When taken in context with verses 11-13, the phrase “But now, you who were far off,” refers to being “far off” from God’s people (the nation of Israel), the covenants, the Law, their religion, and therefore from God - and not just far from God, as many people read it. The “heathen” Gentiles were most definitely “wild” olive branches, grafted in, by faith to the cultivated olive tree (Jesus Christ) making them able to produce good fruit.
Let’s move on to verse 25.
25: For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this (what’s the next word) mystery – so that you will not be wise in your own estimation – that a partial hardening has happened to Israel (now read carefully) until (the word “until” is a time indicator; in this case it’s referring to a future event which the Holy Spirit names) the fullness of the Gentiles (or the filling up of God’s Church) has come in;
In verse 25 Paul is providing some significant new information to this assembly. Information that wasn’t revealed in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ didn’t speak of it during His earthly ministry, and Peter and the other eleven apostles knew nothing of it.
Please turn to Ephesians 3:1-9: For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles – if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made know to me the (what) mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been (what) hidden in God who created all things; (1 Corinthians 2:7).
Once again we have another example in Scripture of a poorly translated word and in this case it’s truly unfortunate because all it’s done is confuse people. I’m speaking of the word “mystery.” When most people come across the word “mystery” they automatically assume it means: an enigma, something weird, or something deep, dark, and puzzling. It does not mean any of these things.
The Greek word for mystery is Musterion, meaning: a hidden or secret thing, not obvious to understanding; a hidden purpose or counsel.
Now let’s return to the place of “first mention” in Scripture to see what it says about the secret things.
Please go to Deuteronomy 29:29: “The (what) secret (Mysterion) things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
It’s certainly God’s prerogative to keep a secret until He’s ready to reveal it, but what man needs to understand is that once He reveals the secret or Truth He expects obedience.
We also have this from Scripture regarding the secret things of God: It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs25:2)
And this: It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; (Daniel 2:22a)
1 Corinthians 2:10 provides us with a N.T. confirmation of Deuteronomy 29:29: For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. Because of this Truth we can understand a great deal about God and ourselves.
Our Apostle Paul received the stewardship of God’s grace by revelation of the “mystery” which had been kept hidden in the mind of God, since before the foundations of the earth. All these Grace Age doctrines we’ve been studying, the previously hidden things, Paul addresses as secrets for that’s what they were. Peter, James, John and the others knew nothing of them. Here’s what Peter had to say about Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles: Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things (What things - the revelation of the mystery of God’s Grace) in which are (read carefully) some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15b-16)
(To be continued)
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