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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

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, May 1, 2015

Romans by the Book (Lesson 91)

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                                                                    Lesson 91

I pray you have your Bible (the sword of truth) with you and you’re prepared to search the Scriptures with us to see what this book says and what it does not say; for the times of difficulty are upon us and the days will continually darken until the day of the Lord.

The Bible is referred to as a sword because as a sword is sharp and used for warfare the Bible is “sharp” as well and used for spiritual warfare.  The Word of God contains Divine Truth, and this Truth is sharper than any two-edged swordable to judge the thoughts and intentions of the (individual’s) heart.  When people hear the Truth, they are faced with but one decision, compliance or rebellion.  Choosing the latter stance is a losing proposition.  (Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 3:1-17; Hebrews 4:12)

Let’s begin.  Please open your Bible at Romans 11:15.

Romans 11

15: For if their (Israel’s) rejection is the (what) reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

The word “reconciliation” is used exclusively by the apostle Paul.  You could search through your Bible to see if any of the twelve apostles (selected by Jesus Christ) use this word or any like it in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to Jews alone (Acts 11:19), but I can save you some time – this word is firmly associated with Pauline Doctrine. 

The word “reconciliation” here is the Greek word Katallage and means:  to restore (to divine) favor.  And only belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can achieve this for us:  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the (Gentile) Greek (Romans 1:16).

Please turn to Romans chapter 5, at verse 8:  But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that (now read carefully) while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified (means:  just as if you never sinned) by His (Divine) blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  For if while we were (God’s) enemies we were (what) reconciled (restored to Divine favor – before we made the first move towards God) to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have (what) now received the reconciliation (Romans 5:8-11).

Our Apostle Paul also wants you to know:  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he (or she) is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  (We didn’t have anything to do with this activity) Now all these things are from God, who (did what) reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Colossians 1:20-21)).

Jesus Christ’s death reconciled every sinner to God the Father, while we were alienated from God.  However, salvation isn’t “free” in the sense that’s its “automatic” and guaranteed to every living soul.  There are those who profess belief in Universalism or a universal salvation.  These folks will tell you that they are Christians as they teach that everyone’s going to heaven.  But they deny the deity of Jesus Christ, the personhood of the Holy Spirit, the virgin birth, and the Trinity; therefore, this is a religious cult.  

Nowhere in Scripture does it say everyone is going to heaven.  What God has said is this:  For the soul that sins shall surely die (Ezekiel 18:20).  Every person who enters this world is at odds with God from the womb:  Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; and in sin my mother conceived me (Psalms 51:5; Romans 5:12, Romans 3:23).

Hence, faith (alone) is required to complete the act of reconciliation, as Paul preaches; this means you have a “decision” to make.  Scripture says that your belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can save you from God’s wrath (Colossians 3:5-6). 

Remember Jesus’ warning:  “See to it that no one misleads you.”  (Matthew 24:4b)

So, Israel’s rejection of their Messiah and God’s Gospel is the reconciliation (restoring to divine favor) of the (believing) world.  This concept has been discussed by Paul in great detail throughout chapters 9-11.  But let us not forget that here in chapter 11 Paul is conversing with his countrymen concerning God’s plan for their future.  We get an indication of this in the second half of verse 15 where Paul writes…what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 

The nation of Israel certainly wasn’t dead at the time Paul wrote this letter and they’re not dead today; you may refer to them as the “walking wounded.”  According to an article I read just last week Israel’s current population is at 8, 904, 000 and increasing steadily.  Anyone who speaks of Israel as forgotten by God or dead to God is working their own agenda and not the Creator God’s:  “for this son of Mine (God’s firstborn of the nations) was (spiritually) dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found (Luke 15:24).

Obviously the nation of Israel was not dead, so what did Paul mean when he said: what will their acceptance be but life from the dead in verse 15? 

Paul is referring to their spiritual state rather than their physical state and I think he had the Old Testament in mind (once again) when he uttered these words.  These few words certainly brought an O.T. passage to my mind when I read them.

Please go to Ezekiel 37.  Here God’s prophet speaks of the Valley of Dry Bones.  I’m fairly certain you are familiar with the picture this passage is meant to paint and that is dried (skeleton) bones as far as the eye can see, literally covering this valley floor, and bleached white by the heat of the sun.  What you may be unaware of is Jewish antiquity or how Israel came to be in such a (spiritual) state.  

After the reign of King Solomon, Israel turned away from the LORD God and separated into two kingdoms.  The LORD sent various prophets to warn Israel that their persistent rebellion (sin) would result in harsh punishment and to pronounce judgment on them.  The judgment was the certain destruction of Israel by the sword, wielded by gentile invaders, if the people did not turn from their idolatry.  One of these prophets was Jeremiah.  He prophesied Israel’s captivity would last 70 years after being conquered by the nation of Babylon.

The prophet Daniel foretold the Jews would return from Babylonian captivity and rebuild Jerusalem and the second Jewish Temple.  Afterwards, an “anointed one” (the Messiah) would appear, but He would be rejected by His people.  Then Daniel prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple (which occurred in 70 AD).  The surviving Jews were taken captive and dispersed amongst the Roman (gentile) world.  Israel remained in dispersion, without a country and without Temple worship, for 2,000 years (Daniel 9:24-26).  

Israel’s national status changed (as prophesied) on May 14, 1948 when the Jewish People’s Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum to declare the establishment of the “State of Israel.”  Four hours later Egypt bombed Tel Aviv.  The new state was recognized by the United States that evening and three days later by the USSR. 

So, now you have the picture; not the complete story but enough to get us going:  Israel is no longer one nation.  They are separated and remain at odds with each other even to this day.  On this valley floor, stretching from horizon to horizon, are these dried bones and they represent the whole nation of Israel.  Let’s pick it up from that point.

Then He (the LORD God) said to me (the prophet Ezekiel), “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished.  We are completely cut off.’  “Therefore, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people.  I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land.  Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’ “(Ezekiel 37: 11-14).

Behold, I will cause breath to enter you (the whole house of Israel) that you may come to life - this act reminded me of when the LORD God formed man in the beginning and made him a living being by breathing into his nostrils the breath of life  (Genesis 2:7; Ezekiel 37:5).

Ezekiel chapter 37 extends far beyond Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity (after 70 years) following the decree of King Cyrus of Persia in 539 BC.  The reviving of the dried bones signifies God’s future plan for Israel’s national restoration.  This vision also signifies that Israel’s new life depends on God’s grace and His sovereign power and not on human effort, ingenuity, or willpower. 

The fact that Israel is a nation today and their population is growing daily is not a fulfillment of this prophecy.  This prophecy will be fulfilled when God re-gathers the Believing remnant of Israelites to the land and Jesus Christ returns to establish His earthly Millennial Kingdom (Jeremiah 31:33, 33:14-16; Zechariah 8:1-8; Matthew 24:30-31).

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