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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
One of our Apostle Paul’s critical teaching points from last week was contained within Romans 15:4, so I’d like to begin this week’s lesson by returning to that verse: For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Instruction as Paul uses it here relates to heart knowledge. It has been said that the majority of people who have lived will miss spending an eternity with their Creator in heaven and instead spend an eternity suffering indescribable torment in the Lake of Fire by a mere 12 inches (Romans 6:23). That is the measured distance from an individual’s brain to their heart. The Scriptures clearly say every person born into this world arrives with an innate knowledge of God. First, God has revealed Himself through His creation; and in these latter days God has revealed Himself directly through His Son and His Word (John 1:9; Romans 1:19-20). The Lord Jesus Christ said, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (John 6:45)
Your parents can supply you with books and associated paraphernalia and send you to school but it’s up to YOU to listen to the instructors and more importantly to learn from them. It is a choice.
Perseverance follows instruction - knowing God the Father, we can wait patiently for Him to do His work in us and about us. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a Believer. After your admission of faith, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within you and the construction process begins. He will conform you into the image of Jesus Christ. This transformation takes “time,” depending on the type of individual you are and your willingness to cooperate – God asks us you to “come as you are” to be saved, but He doesn’t leave you in that condition. God has purposed a plan for you: Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14; Romans 8:23-25)
Encouragement (or comfort) naturally follows perseverance. We all can draw comfort from the Scriptures and those who have “gone before us.” Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Daniel, David and the rest of the Old Testament Believers looked to the coming of the Messiah through the eyes of faith. Their faith directed and guided them all their days. They weren’t biblical super-humans but ordinary run-of-the-mill sons of Adam – sinners saved by grace. They overcame the “pull” of the world and its enticements, their afflictions and trials and chose to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.
What they looked forward to in faith – we look back on through the eyes of faith to every Messianic prophecy fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Thus, we are to be encouraged by these flawed individuals and their godly examples as they walked with the LORD God. Should the situation present itself we are to be encouragers of others and not discouragers because the Bible commands it. (John 8:56; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 11; 12:1)
According to Paul, Hope follows encouragement and for good reason. There will be days when the future doesn’t look so rosy. In fact, the future could appear downright bleak, when taken from a “snapshot” perspective. We’re all going to face temptation, trials and tribulations but this doesn’t mean God’s gone missing or He’s on vacation. Mere circumstances cannot overcome what the Almighty God has already determined.
The greatest hope all true Believers possess is eternal life, in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ said, “I came that they (who believe) may have (eternal) life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Our Apostle Paul wrote: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is (what) eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23; 8:28; Titus 1:1-2).
God’s gift of Grace and eternal life are free gifts bestowed to those who choose to listen and learn His Word. When the sinner believes God’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), he or she receives God’s free gift of eternal life at that moment and you can’t lose it (Romans 8:1; Ephesians 2:8).
Please open your Bible at Romans 15:9.
We learned some time ago that a “partial hardening,” in part, has come upon the nation of Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25). I mention this Bible prophecy again because from Romans 15:9-29 Paul mentions Gentiles ten times and five of these occurrences are directly related to Old Testament prophecies!
9: and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written (in the Old Testament), “THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME.”
10: Again he says, “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE.” (Deuteronomy 32:43)
11: And again, “PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.” (Psalms 117:1)
12: And again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO (what) RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.” (Isaiah 11:10)
The remarkable thing about verses 10-12 is that Paul selected them from the three great divisions of the Old Testament Scriptures: the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44).
In verse 9, Jesus Christ Himself gives PRAISE to God from AMONG THE GENTILES. This quotation comes from Psalms 18:49, where David becomes a distinct “type” of Christ, David’s coming Seed (see verse 50 and Psalms 22:22). After the description of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death that are to come in the first part of the Psalm, the LORD begins to speak of His resurrection praise. I will tell of Your name to my brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
This “assembly” Jesus Christ speaks of took place soon after His resurrection when He appeared to the faithful (few) Jewish Believers in the upper room. But this “assembly” also includes the Gentiles of Acts chapter 10 and thereafter. Here in Romans 15:9, Jesus Christ is celebrating, GIVING PRAISE AMONG THE GENTILES, who are part and parcel of God’s great work of salvation.
In verse 10, in reference to “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE” there are a couple of noteworthy items worth mentioning. First, the Scriptures say in all of basic human history, there are three, and only three, basic groups of people: the Gentiles, the Jews, and Jesus Christ’s Church (1 Corinthians 10:32). So, in Scripture, pronouns matter a great deal. When you come across the words, “His people,” in the Bible this means the nation of Israel always.
Second, according to Deuteronomy 32:43, the “nations” or Gentiles are called on to rejoice with the Jews, for God’s determined intervention on their behalf. Paul selected this Bible passage from the Law to show that the Old Testament “speaks” of the Gentiles as being called on to celebrate the praises of God with the Jews. In addition, the Apostle Paul uses it here to conclude that they are to be receive the same privileges as His people.
Verse 11 is a bit different in that it calls for “direct” praise from the Gentiles, with no distinct notice of Israel as a people for the proper Greek translation reads: And again, Praise the Lord, all [ye] nations, and let all the peoples laud him. (The Darby Translation)
Paul chose a quote from the prophet Isaiah in verse 12 which looks forward to the Millennial reign: “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, (King David’s father – Matthew 1:6) AND HE WHO ARISES (from the dead) TO (what) RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.”
Jewish Believers and Gentile alike, will look to the Lord Jesus Christ who will rule all the earth, on the throne of David, during the Millennium (Revelation 22:16). Our Apostle Paul also preached this message in 2 Timothy 2:8: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel… (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
In Satan’s world or today’s globalized society the emphasis is and has been for some time on individualism and uniqueness; on self-development and self-choice. This ultimately alters mankind’s morals and values, which changes the way people think, and act. God’s plan is to bring all peoples and all cultures together, standing upon the firm foundation of His Gospel, treating all men and women with the same (agape) love and respect: accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God (v7).
13: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,
Have you ever stopped to consider that it is God’s will that every single Believer be filled with all joy and peace in believing?
It has been said that gratefulness looks back while hope looks forward with confidence and expectation. In fact, by looking back, gratitude fuels forward-looking hope.
People who tend not to be grateful tend not to be hopeful and hopefulness is a curse; it’s the curse of trusting in the things of man or anything other than the Creator God and His perfect wisdom and timing. Hopelessness tends to lead to despair and a “woe-is-me” attitude. Despair focuses on one’s immediate circumstances while hope sees ultimate realities – the revealed promises of God coming to fruition.
It’s only human to feel “down” at times. Believe me when I say the world and especially Satan wants to steal your joy. He wants you to “feel” inadequate, incapable, and incomplete. Satan wants you to focus on your present calamity and your stressful situation because it takes your eyes off of Jesus Christ.
But it’s not in the Believer’s “make-up” to stay down because hope believes God is not done. For instance, the LORD God wasn’t done with Noah when he was in the belly of the whale, when Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, when Joseph was alone in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, when Moses and the Israelites were pinned up against the Red Sea while trying to escape from Pharaoh and his army, our Apostle Paul couldn’t get rid of his “thorn in the flesh,” and Jesus Christ was laid in the grave! Hope is not undone ever because God is not done. Our hope is sustained by trusting God: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31b).
14: And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.
Here Paul speaks directly to these Believers in Rome informing them that they are full of goodness. In other words, they are new creatures with new hearts and minds created in Christ Jesus for good works (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). They are hardly perfect, for no one is, they are still related to Adam; still children of the flesh. Yet, Paul believes they are living victoriously, being controlled by the Holy Spirit, and walking by faith.
Paul also says they are also filled with all knowledge, pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). They have been studying the Word of Truth to gain maturity and to be ready and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). They know the Word well enough now to explain it to others and to correct them in the Lord when necessary (2 Timothy 2:15).
15: But I have written (in this letter) very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the (what) grace that was given me from (who) God,
16: to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest (or a go-between) the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Paul reminds these Believers of this “special” grace that had been given to him from God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul often remarked in his letters to the churches that he was Jesus Christ’s chosen steward of God’s grace ministering the Gospel of God to the “nations,” (Gentiles) to whom he was sent. Most people in the church are either ignorant of this, or they simply regard Paul as an “outsider,” “one like the twelve,” or worse yet a heretic working from the fringe. However, if you choose to read verse 15-16 carefully you’ll see that his words go far beyond mere apostleship.
The word which characterizes Paul’s unique ministry to the Gentiles is the Greek word leitourgos. There isn’t an English word that conveys the exact meaning expressed by Paul. Darby suggests: “an administrator officially employed,” while Alford renders it, “ministering priest.” The Bible translators have given us, “a minister of Christ Jesus” and this doesn’t even come close to Paul’s meaning. Stop and think. Every minister, preacher, and priest living today, in a sense, could say they are a minster of Christ Jesus.
The Apostle Peter preached that salvation had come to the Gentiles in Acts 10:34-35: I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man (or woman) who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.
Paul was sent to the Gentiles as Moses was sent to the Jews in the Old Testament – by Divine calling. It is Paul’s gospel, minus any Jewish thing, telling of the “Once and Done Great Offering” for the sins of all men and women, both Jew and Gentile, that saves (Hebrews 10:14) - that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
The word acceptable as used here is the same word found in 2 Corinthians 6:2: …Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” – the time when God freely accepts each individual without the Law or one’s religion any and all that come humbly by faith (alone).
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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[Published Weekly on Friday]