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THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS - Part 15 of 15 - The Practical Side of Romans
E.W. Bullinger wrote this in regard to his taking up these next chapters of Romans:
“It will not be necessary for us to examine in such detail the remaining portion of this Epistle. But, as this (the entire book of Romans) is the foundation of the whole– the basis on which all other truth depends, the subjective foundation on which the Mystery rests, we cannot be too careful in learning its lessons. And, moreover, as departure from this teaching (the doctrine of Romans), or failure to learn it, is the source of all error as to the standing and walk of the Christian, no subject can be fraught (charged) with such importance as this.” (The Church Epistles by E.W.Bullinger, page 30)
In this final part of this hub series on the Epistle of Romans we will be looking at chapters 9 through 16 in four sections:
9-11 - Paul’s heart for Israel. Mercy for both Israel and the Gentiles.
12:1 - 15:12 - Practical points
16:17-20 - Beware of such men
16:25-27 - To establish the saints. May God be recognized through Christ.
1) Chapters 9-11 - Paul’s heart for Israel. Mercy for both Israel and the Gentiles:
- Romans 9:1-4a “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren’s sake, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 who are Israelites…” (ASV)
- Romans 10:1“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” (AV)
God’s desire is to show mercy to both the Jews and the Gentiles, so that all would be saved and come unto and experiential knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4):
- Romans 11:30-32 “For as ye (Gentiles) in time past were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their (the Jews’) disobedience, 31 even so have these also now been disobedient, that by the mercy shown to you they also may now obtain mercy. 32 For God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.” (ASV)
2) 12:1 - 15:12 - Practical points
Romans, chapters 12 through 16 have been called the practical section of Romans because they consist of many practical points. Every practical point is based on the doctrine taught in chapters 1-8, the doctrine unto which we were delivered (Romans 6:17).
If these practical points (or any other practical points) are divorced from the doctrine of the new life we have in Christ then they become a form of law unto which our behavior is to be modified. In this case, the fruit will be that of being under law (Romans 7). The person will feel and express guilt, shame and condemnation for not living enough for Christ because he falls short of what he deems he ought to be doing. The other result is that the person will feel a sense of self-success and self-righteousness resulting in reasons to boast in himself and/or to have the desire for others to recognize him.
God forbid that these practical points designed for our blessing would be used against us. You’ve probably heard well-meaning saints say something like, You ought to be more loving! Or, You should pray more! Is being more loving or praying more a problem? NO! The problem is that these points are being used to try to modify our behavior to ultimately better our character. Remember what Romans 5:3-4 taught us? Boasting in what God has told us when we’re dealing with tribulations develops our character. In other words, the gospel is the power of God to transform our lives as we adapt our thinking to the truth, not by improving ourselves through behavioral changes.
- Romans 12:1-3 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service. 2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but so to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.” (ASV)
The practical side of Romans begins with the words I beseech you therefore, brethren. It doesn’t say, I command you, brethren! Some of the points in these chapters are in the command form in the Greek, but we can’t forget that this section begins with, imploring, begging, or encouraging us to live for God.
Another point on this is that the doctrine and practice work together much like the full training of children. You continually bring them to, and encourage them in, the doctrine. While the doctrine is developing their character you instruct them regarding the things that they should be doing, the things which understanding the doctrine will eventually and naturally bring them into doing. For example, you tell a two year old not to play in the street. They don’t understand the severity of a car colliding with their flesh at high speed. They just need to follow your instruction, which is right practice. Eventually, they won’t need the instruction of the practice because they will mature into being motivated from within to not play in the street.
The doctrine of Romans will develop our character much the same way. As we think as those who have died and been raised with Christ, we will naturally develop into the practical points of Romans:
- Romans 12:9-18 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another; 11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer; 13 communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” (ASV)
3) Romans 16:17-20 - Beware of such men!
- Romans 16:17-20 “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all [men]. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you. Amen.” (ASV)
These verses expound on a subject that the scriptures address throughout; there are those who will lead people astray. This subject is elaborated on by the whole book of Galatians. But in this series we need to hit the main point: lead people astray from WHAT?... the doctrine which you were taught in the first 8 chapters of Romans.
Expanded Literal of Romans 16:17-18: But I implore you, brethren in Christ, take note of the ones who are causing disagreements of opinions resulting in divisions and hindrances from what seems like, but is not, the doctrine which you were taught. Take note of them and turn away from them. For those of this kind serve themselves as master, not our Lord Jesus Christ. And through stimulating lectures for the betterment of the listeners and through masterful speeches filled with catchy phrases which captivate their audience, they mislead unsuspecting ones into trusting in guidance about things which seem right to do, but these things are not the gospel.
Saints, it is crucial for us to know what the gospel is. We will recognize the counterfeits to the degree we know the details of the genuine. What has Romans taught us so far of what the gospel is? It is…
- The message of the genuine apostles (1:1-5).
- The power of God unto wholeness/deliverance for all who believe (1:16).
- The righteousness of God, not the righteousness of man, being revealed (1:17).
- About our justification by faith, not the works of the law (3:24, 26, 30).
- That God displayed Christ Jesus as a propitiation in his shed blood (3:25).
- That Jew and Gentile are both justified by faith. Now there is no distinction between the two (3:29).
- That we now have peace with God, having been justified through Christ (5:1).
- That we have been permanently placed in this grace (5:2).
- That we have permanent access into this grace (5:2).
- That the gospel produces for us patience, the character of the word, and hope (5:3-5).
- That Christ died for us when we were helpless, in the state of being ungodly, sinners and enemies of God (5:6-10).
- That we have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (5:10-11).
- That as Adam passed to us sin, death and condemnation, so Jesus Christ passed to us righteousness, life and acquittal from every wrong (5:12-19).
- That we have been baptized into Jesus Christ’s death and burial so that we can walk in newness of life (6:3-4).
- That we’re freed from the power of sin (6:7 & 18).
- That we’re freed from the authority of the law (7:4).
- That the spirit gives life to our mortal bodies (8:11).
- That we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (8:17).
- That all of creation will be delivered from its slavery to corruption due to sin (8:20-22).
- That we will receive the redemption of our bodies (8:23).
- That the spirit makes intercession for us (8:26-27).
- That God causes all things to work in harmony for our benefit (8:28).
- That God foreordained us, prearranged for us to be conformed to the image of his son, gave us a new name, rendered us righteous and made us to shine like the stars of the universe (8:29-30).
- That God is on our side, so that nothing can be against us (8:31).
- That God will freely give us all things (8:32).
- That nothing or no one can bring a charge against us, condemn us or separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (8:33-35).
All of these gospel realities are what the gospel IS. Beware of any and all messages which are near but not the gospel. Every one of these realities is on account of Jesus Christ’s obedience to God. Apart from Jesus Christ we would have NO part in any one of these realities. This is why it is said that the gospel is concerning (about) Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:3).
4) Romans 16:25-27 - To establish the saints. May God be recognized through Christ.
- Romans 16:25-27 “Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, 26 but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith: 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.” (ASV)
to establish you To make you firm or fixed, your house being built upon the rock where the circumstances of this life no longer have the strength to cause you to fall.
Verse 27 states, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen.
This word “glory” means recognition or acknowledgment. God is recognized for his unmatched love, for the depths of His wisdom and for His super abundantly gracious gifts – but only through an understanding of what He has accomplished for mankind through Jesus Christ. This is the message which spans eternity, which all of creation will be in submission to one day – the powerful message of the gospel of God.
So what's next?...