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The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Romans by the Book (Lesson 42)

Home Bible Study
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

Romans by the Book                                          42

One of the important items we came across in the previous lesson was this tutoring on the subject of Believers having been delivered over” to a form (or pattern) of teaching; that is the gospel of our salvation or Christ’s work on the cross.   

I want to spend a little more time on this topic before we move on.
This is the verse where we find this information.

Romans 6

17: But thanks be to God that though you were (past tense) slaves to sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.

First things first; when Paul speaks about becoming obedient from the heart he’s referring to one’s faith.  The Bible teaches the absolute necessity of faith (Hebrews 11:6).

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).  Faith is taking God at His Word and acting upon God’s promises concerning those things we have not yet seen.  Many people don’t think about faith being an action word but it is.  You see,” we walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:6-7). 

Romans chapter 10, gives us a good example of this teaching.    

Romans 10

9: …that if you confess (to make an acknowledgement or admission – to admit) with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe (belief is a voluntary action) in your (what) heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

10: for with the (what) heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

When Paul references the “heart” in the verses above he is not speaking of that chest muscle that pumps blood.  It is not a “feeling.”  Paul is not referring to mere emotion when he mentions “the heart.”  Per Scripture, the heart is the center of your intellect, emotion, and will.  A good synonym would be the word “mind” (See Matthew 9:4; Matthew 13:15; Mark 2:6; Luke 2:19; Acts 5:4; Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Romans 6:17).

Getting back to the teaching point Paul is making in Romans 6:17, these Believers have been “delivered-over” to a form of teaching that is connected to Christ’s work on the cross and this is a change from the Law.

Now I am bringing up the Mosaic Law for a few reasons: 

1:  Paul begins chapter seven with a comparison between marriage and the Law.

2:  The make-up of this church in Rome consisted of both Jews and Gentiles. 
We know this because Paul devotes the first 3 chapters of Romans to the relationship between Jews and Gentiles.  Starting at chapter 1 he writes the gospel is, “to the Jew first, and also the Greek (Gentile).” 

3:  You’ll note that Paul mentions the nation of Israel quite often throughout the book of Roman.  In truth, more so than any of his other letters to the churches in Asia Minor. 

Although it is true Paul reserved a special place in his heart for his countrymen, deeply regretted his persecution of those who followed “the Way,” and he was determined to preach the gospel to them at any cost (see Acts 9:20; 13:5; 13:14; 22;) there are other reasons why this letter contains so many Jewish expressions. 

In addition to the disagreements (conflict) taking place in the church between the Jews and Gentiles, which Paul addresses in this letter (see chapter 11:17-24; 14).  There’s one more reason and we find a hint of it in a short passage near the end of the book which reads, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 16:3)

Priscilla and Aquila were trustworthy coworkers and friends of Paul.  In the Book of Acts, we meet this couple for the first time when Paul arrives in the Greek city of Corinth.

Acts 18

1: After these things he (Paul) left Athens and went to Corinth.

2: And he found (what’s their nationality) a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from (where) Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.  He came to them,

3: and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.

This couple assisted Paul in establishing the church in Corinth and moved on with him to Ephesus, where they remained actively involved in church planting alongside Paul. Like him, they were followers of Jesus of Jewish descent.  In Acts, it is stated that they were forced to leave Rome because the Emperor Claudius had expelled all the Jews from Rome.

The Roman historian Suetonius (69 – after 129 AD) confirms this event and the early church historian Orosius (O-ro-si-us) gives the date as the year 49 AD.  This expulsion was no isolated case.  Only a few decades earlier, Tiberius had expelled all Jews from Rome to the island of Sardinia.

Suetonius explains the expulsion came about because of the “disturbances and riots among the Jews at the instigation of Chrestus.”  Most church historians today agree that this refers to Christ.  Christians were also frequently referred to as “Chrestianoi.”
Apparently, there was an internal dispute among the Jewish residents of Rome over the Messianic claims of Jesus, as had happened in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), Antioch (Acts 15:50); Iconium (Act 14:1-7), Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17), and elsewhere.  But Claudius had little tolerance for their debate and expelled all the Jews.  This included Priscilla and Aquila, who fled to Corinth where they met up with Paul.  For several years, they joined his ministry team, moving with him to Ephesus.  

But when a new emperor arose in Rome named Nero, he allowed the Jews to return to Rome in 54 AD.  Priscilla and Aquila returned around this time, which is why Paul greets them at the end of his letter.

We learned in the previous lesson that the Israelites were rescued from their bondage in Egypt and had been “delivered over” to a pattern (or form) of teaching; that being Moses and the Law.  

The Apostle Paul’s teaching based on Christ’s work on the cross contradicts this legalistic system which they were taught as children and all these traditions which they had learned and grown accustomed (Deuteronomy 11:19-21).  Have you ever considered that it is so much easier to teach someone something brand-spanking new then it is to undo something they’ve been practicing for over 2,000 years and start all over again?
This is exactly what the Apostle Paul is attempting to do and “faith is required.

With this in mind, please open your Bible to Romans chapter 7.

Depending on your Bible translation, at the beginning of Romans chapter 7 you may find this header:  Believers are united to Christ. 

I don’t want to skip over something I think is relative to our study, so we’re going to take a moment to examine this:  what does it mean to be united to Christ?

Turn to 1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15

21: For since by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus Christ) also came the resurrection of the dead.

22: For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Before your salvation you were linked with Adam (in Adam) and destined to die the second death.  After your salvation, you were linked with Jesus Christ (in Christ) and you are now “Alive to God” (Romans 6:11).

All Believers are united with Christ in His death, burial, and His resurrection.
(Romans 6:4-5).

Turn to Colossians chapter 3.

Colossians 3

1: Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Psalms 110:1).

2: Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
This verse is teaching us we need to be mindful of our thoughts.  The sin process begins in your mind with a single thought.  If you manage your thoughts you’ll control your actions; with the Spirits help.  This is one of the reasons why Jesus sent us the Helper.

3: For you have (what) died (to the Law as to its condemning power) and your life is hidden with Christ (where) in God.

What does this mean?  “Your life is hidden with Christ in God?”

People who do not recognize the Lord Jesus Christ or have rejected Him outright can’t understand Believers. 

We act differently from those who follow the world and not Jesus.  They don’t get us.   
They can’t understand the decisions we make, the way we act or react to situations and difficulties that come our way, and in general they are ignorant of the Spirit-filled life. 

These things are hidden from those who are lost (2 Corinthians 4:1-4).

Eternal life is also hidden from natural men and women for the things “eternal” are things “unseen” by the carnal eye, and unrecognized by the carnal heart.  These things too can only be glimpsed through the eyes of faith; the evidence of things not yet seen.

This phrase “hidden with Christ in God” is also expressive of the safety and security of each Believer.  Your salvation cannot be lost or stolen away.  For a Believer is “hid” not only in Christ, where that would be secure enough, but it is with Christ “in God.” Christ is in God, the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. 

How’s that for security?  Who do you know that’s powerful enough to stroll into God’s throne room and snatch you away from Him? 

Scripture has something to say regarding your eternal security.  Please take note of it.

Romans 8

38: For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

39: nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is (where) in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul left nothing out.  There is no created thing that can separate you from the “love of God” which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Since, Jesus Christ is the Creator God, and all things have been created through Him and for Him (1 Colossians 15-17) you’re eternally secure.

Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” approximately 216 times in his writings to instruct the churches (and us) that we are inseparable, one with Christ, or put another way, united with Him.

Please open your Bible to Romans chapter 7.
Here we have evidence regarding the Jewish population of this church in Rome.
Paul begins chapter 7 by addressing the Jewish population  – “for I am speaking to those who know the law…”  Gentiles were not required to know the Law.  In fact, they were “outsiders, aliens, excluded from the covenant promises” (see Ephesians 2:11-12).

Romans 7

1: Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?

2: For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.

3: So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.

The Apostle Paul uses a marriage analogy to demonstrate that death releases parties that are bound to a legal agreement.  When a wife’s husband dies, she is free to remarry. 
So then to when a person elects to believe the gospel of their salvation, they are then baptized into the Body of Christ and they die to the Law (Romans 7:4).  In other words, death severs the bonds of the law (Romans 7:1).

Romans 7

4: Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him (Jesus Christ) who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

5: For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

In verse 4 Paul instructs his brethren that at one time they were under the Law of Moses, and were therefore bound by its restrictions.  But now you are dead to that Law and all its ordinances.  

God has determined that the Law shall no longer be in force.  There has been a change.
As a woman whose husband is dead is freed from the law under which she once lived, due to her marriage vow, she is free to legally marry another man; because God has deemed that the Law should only be in force until the advent of the Messiah. 

The Law cannot save us.  It was meant to drive us to Jesus.  Since the advent has taken place, the Law has ceased.   Christ Jesus is the end of the Law; for He is righteousness to everyone who believes. 

In verse 4, Paul wrote that Believers, both Jew and Gentile, were joined to Christ Jesus so that we may “bear (good) fruit for God.”  The Lord Jesus Christ spoke often about the fruit of good works and so did the Apostle Paul. 

To those few who chose to believe in Jesus and follow Him, He said:

John 15

5: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides (where) in Me, and I in Him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

The Apostle Paul wrote in kind:

Ephesians 2

10: For we are His workmanship, created (where) in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Galatians 5

22: But the fruit of the Spirit (capitalized) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23: gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no (what) law. 

We have received the gifts of God’s grace and the Holy Spirit so that we can do good works while we remain here on this earth.  Without this “union” it would be impossible for us to produce “good fruit.”  As Jesus said, apart from Him we can do “nothing.”

(To be continued)

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