Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Insight: "The Election of Grace"

Insight #11, September 11, 2010

Third Quarter 2010 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

"The Election of Grace"

My Bible has section headings designed to give the reader a hint as to
what to expect in the ensuing verses. There are 2 headings in Romans
10.* For verses 1-13 it says, "Israel needs the gospel." Verses 14-21
have the heading, "Israel rejects the gospel."

Paul stated clearly that the gospel is what Israel needs. "For I am not
ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation
for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek"
(Romans 1:16). Verse 1 of this chapter says that the gospel concerns
Jesus Christ, the Son of God. "For the message of the cross is
foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it
is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18).

So, the gospel which Israel needs and which concerns Jesus Christ is the
message of the cross. This simple yet profound and multifaceted
definition is, for Paul and for us, the foundation of our experience. It
is efficacious and sufficient for beginning and sustaining the Christian
life. It prevents the apostasy described in Romans 11. "For since, in
the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased
God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who
believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we
preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks
foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ
the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God
is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. But God
has chosen the foolish things of the world to pout to shame the wise,
and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the
things which are mighty" (I Corinthians 1:21-25, 27). Praise God!

Sadly, Paul tells us in Romans 10:20, 21, "I was found by those who did
not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me. But to
Israel He says, all day long I have stretched out My hands to a
disobedient and contrary people." Paul's heart desire, according to
verse 1, is that Israel would respond and be saved. Then, in verse 2 he
says, " For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God but not
according to knowledge." Paul also said that before his conversion he
had a zeal like that, so he understands Israel's problem.

What is the "zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" that Paul
originally had, and now Israel also has, and for which the gospel is the
remedy? Verse 3 tells us. "For they being ignorant of God's
righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness have not
submitted to the righteousness of God." The simple answer to our
question: "...they have not submitted to the righteousness of God."

This error hits at the foundation of the gospel of God, which concerns
Jesus Christ. The righteousness of God has been manifested in the faith
of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21, 22). This legal language speaks of God's
justice and mercy which allows Him to be just, and also the justifier of
the one who has the faith of Christ (Romans 3:26). All of this is
wrapped up in the message of the cross. God sent His Son as a sacrifice
for the sins of the world. We rebelled and refused to believe (Romans
3:3), but Jesus remained faithful to the covenant between Himself and
His Father. The faith of Jesus, shown by His "righteous act," satisfied
the requirements of the law and justified the world so that "many will
be made righteous" (Romans 5:19).

The divine faith of Jesus - affirms God's unbreakable love. "God proves
His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for
us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus is the assurance from God that makes human faith
possible. Therefore, Jesus makes righteousness possible.

The zeal that is "not according to knowledge" fails to recognize the
righteousness of God as manifested in the faith of Jesus. It fails to
see the "righteous act" of divine love for all, that makes our faith
response possible. This is the point of Israel's ignorance. Paul wants
Israel to know that the emphasis is on what God did through Jesus
Christ. By faith, Jesus "was obedient unto death, even the death of the
cross" (Philippians 2:8). Through the resurrection, Christ has
constituted the beginning of a new humanity (Romans, chapters 5 and 6).
God has "predestined" this new humanity to be "conformed to the image of
His Son" (Romans 8:29). Because this manifestation has taken place
"apart from law," through Christ's action, the new humanity includes
Jews and Gentiles. He became "a servant to the circumcision for the
truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the
Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written...rejoice O
Gentiles, with His people," (Romans 15:8). Romans 10:4 says, "For Christ
is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."

In the book, Waggoner on Romans, page 164 we find this gem. "We have
seen that the end or object of the law is the righteousness which it
requires...the law of God is the righteousness of God. But this
righteousness is the real life of God Himself and the words of the law
are only the shadow of it. That life is found only in Christ, for He
alone declares the righteousness of God (Romans 3:24, 25). His life is
the law of God since God was in Him. That which the Jews had only in
form is found in fact only in Christ. In Him the end of the law is
found. The gospel is powerful good news, and it produces a life
transforming faith as we begin to understand. Faith comes by hearing the
good news. So Paul says 'how beautiful are the feet of those who preach
the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things' (Romans

What if we do not obey the gospel? Will God cast us off? "God has not
cast away His people whom He foreknew" (Romans 11:2). "The Lord will not
forsake His people for His great name's sake, because it pleased the
Lord to make you His people" (1 Samuel 12:22). "See I have inscribed you
on the palms of My hands, your walls are continually before Me" (Isaiah
49:16). Praise God! "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable"
(Romans 11:29).

As we survey the wondrous cross this Sabbath, I pray that we will say
with Paul, "But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence
of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the
loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ and
be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is from the law,
but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which
is from God by faith" (Philippians 3:9).

May we have a zeal for God which is according to true knowledge. Amen

--Lyndi Schwartz

*All scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version of
the Bible

For an excellent companion book to these studies, please see Waggoner on Romans: the Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter, by E. J. Waggoner. You may access the complete book at:

For Jack Sequeira sermons on Romans click here: MP3; Windows Media; Real Audio
 For the written version click here
 For a paraphrase on Romans click here