Tuesday, August 31, 2010

“Redemption for Jew and Gentile”

“Redemption for Jew and Gentile”

Who Is Israel?

“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29, KJV). Here, Paul defines true spiritual Israel. Later he declares: “Circumcision is nothing; uncircumcision is nothing; the only thing that counts is new creation! All who take this principle for their guide, peace and mercy be upon them, the Israel of God!” (Gal. 6:15, 16, REB).
After the sublime “Hallelujah Chorus” of Romans 8, Paul’s change of mood seems suddenly dark and foreboding. As a student of the scriptures, especially the 70-week prophecies in Daniel 9, he must realize the significance of the stoning of Stephen. He has just declared that nothing can separate us from the love of God, but his mind is reminded that there is one thing that can separate even those specially chosen by God. Persistent, deliberate choices to disbelieve His promises will eventually be honored. Paul realizes God labored long with Israel, His chosen people. There were tests of faith in the wilderness after leaving Egypt, unbelief on the verge of entry, then captivity to cure idolatry, years of apostasy, then finally Israel corporately murdered His Son. Even then God sends one more messenger, Stephen; even the cross does not reach their hearts. Through its leadership, Israel rejects and stones Stephen so the gospel is officially taken to the Gentiles.

Paul, motivated by the Holy Spirit, feels anguish over the loss of his brethren. He declares he is willing to be accursed or separated from Christ for the sake of his kinsmen. Under other circumstances, this would be self-serving exaggeration. For this to be genuine, it can only be a gift of the Spirit.

Paul then analyzes why Israel’s separation was not the fault of God. He begins by explaining that as God defines Israel, He has kept His promises. God does not define true Israel by race, language, or even lineage from Abraham. The promises were not repeated to Ishmael or Esau, but over and over He reminds them He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Who comprises Israel? “We learn also who are Israel. The name was given to him in token of the victory which he had gained by faith. It did not bestow any grace upon him, but was a token of the grace already possessed. … It is not the name that brings the blessing, but the blessing that brings the name. As Jacob did not possess the name by nature, so nobody else can. The true Israelite is he in whom is no guile. … So the Israelite is only the one who has personal faith in the Lord. …

“Let every one who would fain be known as an Israelite consider how Jacob received the name, and realize that only so can it be worthily carried by anyone. Christ, as the promised seed, had to go through the same struggle. He fought and won through His trust in the word of the Father, and so He is of right the King of Israel. Only Israelites will share the kingdom with Him; for Israelites are overcomers, and the promise is, ‘To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.’ Rev. 3:21” (E. J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant, p. 116; Glad Tidings Publishers ed.).
What did Jacob overcome? “It was by self-surrender and confiding faith that Jacob gained what he had failed to gain by conflict in his own strength. God thus taught His servant that divine power and grace alone could give him the blessing he craved. Thus it will be with those who live in the last days. As dangers surround them, and despair seizes upon the soul, they must depend solely upon the merits of the atonement. We can do nothing of ourselves” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 203).

What was the blessing Jacob craved? Throughout his life, he schemed to obtain what God had promised was his. His father, Isaac, indeed had bestowed the birthright on him, yet he struggles with a stranger for assurance he has it. Why the insecurity? He had been depending on his schemes, actions, and strength to assure himself the birthright was his. Jacob “prevailed” by surrendering any faith in his ability to overcome. He laid hold of the strength of the Angel he had been fighting and was given victory. Only then could he receive the gift of overcoming.
In verse 16 of Romans 9, Paul reminds Israel that God’s mercy is not generated or created by the actions of humans. God is merciful because He is love, and is merciful toward the objects of His love. The lump of clay cannot question what the potter makes of it, likewise man cannot dictate the actions of God. If Jacob had enough inherent strength to overcome the Angel, he could demand the blessing as his right, yet he gained victory only by admitting he was without strength.

Paul continues his argument that God is not at fault for the Jew’s separation, by using the sad example of faithless Gomer who persisted in finding support and comfort in her illicit lovers. The faithful Hosea pursued her in spite of her failings, a living portrayal of Christ attempting to woo His indifferent bride.

This is where Paul’s examples of Israel’s waywardness enter our time in history. Never has the church been so distracted that she fails to know her true condition. The experience of Christ’s Bride will be different from the experience of any previous generation. The truth about the character of God must stand revealed in that final glory which lightens the earth.

“The supreme interest of Jesus, our High Priest, is to win the heart of His bride which will make the atonement complete. Her reticence to accept her Divine Lover is the result of her immaturity. Her fickleness and her consorting with the princes of Babylon grow out of her childish appreciation of what her real Lover has given and gone through to win her hand. … He is waiting for His Bride to grow up and cease her playful infatuation with the human honor that comes one of another, but which destroys faith (John 5:44). … Her consummate beauty is not just because she has put off her whoredoms and ceased from sin, but because she knows and appreciates the struggle her Lover has endured to obtain victory and she as an army in battle has gone through the same struggle. She has gone to the cross with Him. She has grown up in this conquest and her soul longs to be at the side of her Lover. … Her union with the Bridegroom provides much more than the forgiveness of sin. Her sin is not only taken away but the vacuum is filled with the Holy Spirit” (Donald K. Short, Then Shall the Sanctuary be Cleansed, p. 91).
Today, we, the individuals who comprise the church, are slumbering along with the ten virgins. We continue to obsess over victory over sin as if that were the only thing necessary for salvation. Like ancient Israel, steeped in old covenant thinking, we persist in believing “born again” means to try harder and harder to obey. True obedience flows from a heart completely unified with Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. At the cross, believers refuse to be assured by their own strength, but with Christ, submit their spirit to Him in faith that He will fulfill His promises to true Israel.

Arlene Hill

Note: We invite you to read a verse-by-verse study of Romans 9 from the 1888 message perspective by Paul E. Penno. You will find it on the Internet at: http://www.1888mpm.org/articles/redemption-jew-and-gentile

Or, you may request that it be sent to you via e-mail. Just reply to this e-mail and ask for “Romans 9 study.”
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Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe.

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at:

To subscribe send an e-mail message with "subscribe" in the body of the message to sabbathschooltoday@1888message.org
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: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

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

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

“Freedom In Christ”

Sabbath School TodayWith the 1888 Message Dynamic
Redemption in RomansLesson 9: "Freedom in Christ"

In the seventh chapter of Romans, which was the subject of last week's lesson, Paul describes a problem. The problem is that neither knowledge nor effort enables one to keep the law. As a consequence, self-reliance, however well-informed or well-intentioned, is condemned under the law.

In the eighth chapter of Romans, which is the subject of this week's lesson, Paul presents the solution to the problem. In the first verse, Paul correlates the absence of condemnation to being "in Christ." Please note that the phrase "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," which appears in the King James Version and implies that the absence of condemnation is attributable to what we call sanctification, the imparted obedience of Christ, is not in the original. Thus, a correct translation of the first verse of the chapter is: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (New American Standard Bible).

Thereafter, Paul elaborates on the concept of being "in Christ." In the fourth verse, he introduces the concept of the imparted obedience of Christ as the evidence of faith. In subsequent verses, he identifies the alternative to "the law of sin and death"; "the flesh," the carnal mind, fear, death, and bondage, as the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, the spiritual mind, peace, life, and adoption.

What is the law of "the Spirit of life in Christ" (vs. 2)? When Adam and Eve hearkened to Satan, they lost their freedom and acquired the carnal mind, a mind at enmity with God that separates us from God and one another. In Christ, however, freedom is restored and enmity and isolation are abolished (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 2:14).

A. T. Jones describes this accomplishment: "It is true, the Jews in their separation from God had built up extra separations between themselves and the Gentiles. It is true that Christ wanted to put all those separations out of the way, and he did do that.  But the only way that he did it, and the only way that he could do it, was to destroy the thing that separated them from God. All the separations between them and the Gentiles would be gone, when the separation, the enmity, between them and God was gone.

"Oh, the blessed news that the enmity is abolished! It is abolished; thank the Lord. ... It is gone, in Christ it is gone. Not outside of Christ; in Christ it is gone, abolished, annihilated. Thank the Lord. This is freedom" (The Third Angel's Message, No. 11, 1895 General Conference Bulletin, p. 194 [original]).

E. J. Waggoner explains verses two through four: "So the law as it is in the person of Christ is the law of the Spirit of Life. So he [the believer] takes the life of Christ, and gets the perfection of the law as it is in Christ, and serves Him in spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Thus he is delivered from bond-service to the law to freedom in it. There is a wonderful amount of rich truth in that,--'The law of the Spirit of Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.'

"'For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh.' Is there any discouragement in that? Does it cast disparagement on the law? Not in the least. What could not the law do? It could not justify me because I was weak. It did not have any good material to work on. It was not the fault of the law, it was the fault of the material. The flesh was weak, and the law could not justify it. But God hath sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, to condemn sin in the flesh, that He might justify us" (Bible Studies on the Book of Romans, 1891 General Conference Bulletin, p. 29 [facsimile reproduction]).

Please note that, in the third verse, Paul describes the human nature that Christ assumed at the incarnation as "in the likeness of sinful flesh." Ellen G. White wrote: "The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study" (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 244).

The 1888 messengers recognized the connection between Christology and soteriology. They believed that, to redeem humanity, Christ assumed human nature as it was after the fall, with its tendencies and desires. E. G. White supports this view of the human nature of Christ: "In taking upon Himself man's nature in its fallen condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin" (ibid., p. 256). "He took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, that He might know how to succor those that are tempted" (Medical Ministry, p. 181; also, see Heb. 4:15).

Christ took our nature which would tend to pull Him in a direction contrary to His Father's will and thus sin, but He denied Himself (Rom. 15:3). Thus the sinful nature which Christ took upon His divinity was not a sinning nature and did not make Him, as such, a sinner. If He had pandered to that fallen nature then He would have sinned.

"Jesus came to the world, and put Himself in the flesh, just where men are; and met that flesh, just as it is, with all its tendencies and desires; and by the divine power that he brought by faith, He 'condemned sin in the flesh', and thus brought to all mankind that divine faith which brings the divine power to man to deliver him from the power of the flesh and the law of sin, just where he is, and to give him assured dominion over the flesh, just as it is" (A. T. Jones, Review and Herald, Sept. 1, 1896).

It is important to emphasize that Christ entered humanity not in sinful flesh but in "the likeness of sinful flesh." The post-fall view of the human nature of Christ does not in the least compromise His absolute sinlessness.

The very words "likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3) and "was made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7) show that there is no difference between His humanity and ours. He faced the same temptations as are the common lot of humanity. We have a Savior who is near to us and not afar off. The difference between Christ and us is not the "flesh" which He took, but the "mind" or character which He maintained in the conflict, the end result of which is the righteousness of Christ.

As Christ had the mind of God, we are admonished to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). We acquire it. "Let this mind be in you." By consent or permission we allow Christ to be formed within us. In other words, righteousness is by faith in Christ (1 Cor. 3:16) by a continual renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2).

There is also a difference between Christ's life and our lives. The difference is His constant subjugation of the fallen nature. He never succumbed to it. Throughout His life on earth, Christ never exercised His own will; He chose to do only His Father's will (Matt. 26:39; John 5:30; 6:38). "Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was" (The Desire of Ages, p. 664).

Believers in every age are saved by being "in Christ." Even Christ's end-time people, whom the True Witness identifies as keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will be saved being "in Christ."

The eighth chapter of Romans is reassuring. We may experience "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ."

--Roland Fanselau
Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe.

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org

To subscribe send an e-mail message with "subscribe" in the body of the message to sabbathschooltoday@1888message.org

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: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

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

Monday, August 23, 2010

An Invitation to Study the Book of Hebrews!

An Invitation to Study the Book of Hebrews!

 You Are Cordially Invited
To Continue the Journey
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Through the 1888 Message Perspective
(Part 2)
AUGUST 28, 2010
Sabbath morning, 2:15 p.m., and Saturday Night
An 1888 message oriented sermon will be delivered during the regular
Worship Service at 11:00 a.m.
(Off Interstate 40 westbound from Nashville, exit 192–turn right, then left on HWY 70,
1-1/2 miles to Cave Springs Road, two rights and follow the signs.)
Speaker & Bible Study Leader
Chaplain Craig Barnes
• Special class for children during Sabbath School
• Separate programs during the afternoon meetings
Plant-based meals will be served at Cave Springs Home
on a donation basis. Please E-mail or call to reserve a meal ticket.
BOOK SALE (After Sunset)
• Available on Site
• Commercial lodging available in the nearby town of Belleview
• Phone: (615) 646-6962 (if no answer, please leave a message)
• E-mail: cjmb@comcast.net 
-- Next meeting: November 13, 2010 --

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lesson 7: “Victory Over Sin”

Lesson 7: “Victory Over Sin”

No man can serve two masters and no man can simultaneously live two lives. No man can at once be the slave to righteousness and the slave to sin.

A favorite verse shows us that once we have been crucified with Christ, we have died and it is no longer our life living in us. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). We now know that it is the life of Christ that lives within us by faith.

Paul begins Romans 6 by asking a question that contains its own answer. “How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it?” (vs. 2). He further explains that whoever is baptized into Christ, is buried with Him into death; that the same glory of the Father that raised Him from the dead, would cause us to walk in the newness of life. We know that our old man was crucified with Him so that our body of sin might be done away with and our slavery to sin would be over. Paul ends his explanation with these simple words: “For he who has died has been freed from sin” (vss. 3-7).

Do not think that the cross was only some 2,000 years ago—“Christ crucified is Christ alive. That crucifixion is a present thing. It never can be in the past.” [1] This is powerful
Good News to the Christian. There is present help in present trouble!

Many, even Christians, have a real issue with the cross. The cross speaks to our human frailty and inability to do any good thing. They are offended that all the years of doing and trying to obey to please God counts for nothing. “The offense of the cross is that the cross is a confession of human frailty and sin and of inability to do any good thing. To take the cross of Christ means to depend solely on Him for everything and this is the abasement of all human pride. ... But let the cross be preached, let it be made known that in man dwells no good thing and that all must be received as a gift, and straightway someone is offended.” [2]

What is not clearly understood is that you cannot live a different life with the one you have been living. If you would like to live a different life, you must be given a different life to live. It is a gift and it is complete when it arrives.

“The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.” [3]

About those that are slaves to sin and free from righteousness: For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (Rom. 6:20). A slave to sin depends “on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor.  When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?” [4] “He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility.” [5] You do not belong to yourself, but were purchased by Christ at the cross. You are His workmanship, not your own!

About those that are slaves of righteousness and free from sin: “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:18). “In none of His subsequent discourses did He explain so fully, step by step, the work necessary to be done in the hearts of all who would inherit the kingdom of heaven.” [6] The slaves to righteousness realize that the work to be done in the heart is done by faith through the
Spirit of God by the power of the cross. The slaves of sin disregard this fact.

The most precious message of 1888 is a message that brings “more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.” It invites “people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God.” [7]

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:7). “On the cross Christ shed His blood to reconcile us to God, in the forgiveness of our sins. (Col. 1:14; Rom. 5:9, 10). ... All created things sprang from His life. So that the power of the cross, by which we are saved, is the power by which the worlds were made. Thus it is that if any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature, or a new creation.” [8]

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ” (2
Cor. 5:18). “God was in Christ reconciling us to Himself, and in the cross it is that He gives us His life. Failure to realize this is the reason we have failed many times in the ‘crosses’ we have borne. We bore crosses separated from Christ, and therefore the power in the cross was only the power in our own lives. It was nothing. But when we are crucified with Christ, and thus bear the cross with Him, we get the power of the cross, which is the power of the life of Christ. It was a power that all the hosts of Satan could not affect. It was a power that Satan could not hold in the grave. So when the cross comes, if we share it with Christ, then the power of the cross to us is the power of His endless life.” [9]

“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:22, 23). For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in
Him” (2 Cor. 5:2).

God has already delivered us from the land of Egypt (sin) and the house of bondage
(habits/addictions) thus making all His commandments promises (Ex. 20:2). He has already released us from our bonds and set us free! (Psalm 116:16).

It is by believing what God has already done for us by and through Christ and Him crucified that gives us His life—and sets us free from sin. The Bible teaches this – let it be said of us as it is said of Abraham: “Abraham had such confidence in the life and power of the word of the Lord that he believed that it would fulfill itself.” [10]

“The thing is true whether we believe it or not. ... He has bought us; and having bought us, He has broken every bond that hindered us from serving Him. If we but believe, we have the victory that has overcome the world” (1 John 5:4; John 16:33). The message to us is that our “warfare is ended” and our “iniquity is pardoned.” But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God (Isa. 40:2).

“My sin—oh, the bliss of the glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” [11]
Daniel H. Peters

[1] E. J. Waggoner, “Christ Lifted Up,” The Present Truth, Feb. 8, 1894, p. 82.
[2] The Glad Tidings, p. 113.
[3] The Desire of Ages, p. 172.
[4] Ibid., p. 175.
[5] Ibid., p. 172.
[6] Ibid., p. 176.
[8] E. J. Waggoner, “Creation and the Cross,” The Present Truth, March 22, 1894.
[9] E. J. Waggoner, “The Power of the Cross,” The Present Truth, Feb. 8, 1894.
[10] E. J. Waggoner, “The Call of Abraham—The Test of Faith,” The Present Truth, July 2,
[11] The Glad Tidings, p. 13.

Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe.

"Sabbath School Today" is on the Internet at: http://1888mpm.org

To subscribe send an e-mail message with "subscribe" in the body of the message to sabbathschooltoday@1888message.org
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: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

“Expounding the Faith”

Sabbath School TodayWith the 1888 Message Dynamic 
Redemption in RomansLesson 6: "Expounding the Faith"
We're privileged to share with you a Bible study on Romans 5, the topic of this week's Sabbath School lesson, written by Robert J. Wieland. He titled the study: "What Jesus Christ Has Already Done For Us All." Until now, the study remained unpublished. We realize it's considerably longer than our regular Sabbath School Today, but we hope that it will give you a deeper understanding of Paul's "big idea" of what Christ accomplished on His cross.
Paul's Romans chapter five should begin with the last verse of his chapter four: "[Christ] was given up to death for our misdeeds, and raised to life for our justification" (4:25); this leads into his chapter five. In his inspired thinking, Paul sees that the first person plural, possessive pronoun, "our," means everybody--the entire world, not just the church. John agrees. He says that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ..."
An inspired writer has told us that when we preach we should preach "big ideas." [1] In Romans 5 the apostle Paul has a very "big idea" that he wants to get across to us: Jesus Christ has not only died for us all; He has done more! He has judicially, legally justified us all "in Himself." Yes, the whole world! That means more than merely saving us to be justified; it means to be re-made in our hearts and minds spiritually into the image of Jesus. It is the most cataclysmal change that can come to any human, for it means total at-one-ment with the Son of God. Justification means the mind and the soul of the sinner changed into Christlikeness.
Paul couldn't come up with a bigger idea than this: in fact, Jesus has saved the world with all Paul's "much more" idea in full function. That doesn't mean that everybody is going to inherit eternal life, but it means that they could do so if they would cease their resistance of this much more abounding grace of Christ. And just to be saved is far less than the idea means.
The Eleven weren't thinking "big" enough to grasp Paul's idea; but the Samaritans got it. When Jesus talked with the woman at Jacob's well and she went and told her townspeople to come and meet Him, they declared, "This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42, KJV). Earlier, the apostle John expressed the same idea, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son …" (3:16).
If the Samaritans were right (and they were!), that means that the Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of His sacrifice on His cross, has justified every man in a judicial sense when he died on His cross, which means more than just saving them to live eternally; they live eternally justified. Let us look at Romans 5.
Romans 5:1: "Therefore, now that we have been justified through faith, we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (The Revised English Version).
The "we" is the world, in Paul's thinking. Many either don't know it or don't believe it, but nonetheless, it is true that Christ saved the world in a judicial sense. It means that He gave Himself for the world and thus He bought the world. This does not mean that everybody is going to be saved at last in God's eternal kingdom if they don't want to be; they could be if they would receive the gift that Christ has given them; but many will not humble their hearts to receive what Christ has given them.
Ellet J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers," was able to grasp this truth when most of his brethren could not. He said: "There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death for every man. He has given himself for all. Nay, he has given himself to every man. The free gift has come upon all. The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception. If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift. It is a fact, therefore, plainly stated in the Bible, that the gift of righteousness and life in Christ has come to every man on earth. There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it" (Waggoner on Romans, p. 101).
Romans 5:2: "[Christ] has given us access to that grace in which we now live; and we exult in the hope of the divine glory that is to be ours." Because of Christ's work of justification we are "exulting" ever since, and will exult forever. Justification is eternal joy.
Unless Jesus had made that sacrifice on His cross, there would not be one laughing, happy person on earth; there would be no smiles. Those who will be lost at last will realize that every trace of joy they ever knew was purchased for them by a corresponding, equal anguish of the Son of God in His sacrifice on His cross; they went through life never realizing that truth and thus they forfeited the eternal gift. No one could know a moment of joy unless Christ had endured an equivalent, balanced, equal moment of anguish for them.
But now we have "access" directly to the throne of God. Christ has given that "access" to every human soul, which means that the door to eternal life is standing open to all. There is a "coming," yes, that we must do--but that "coming" is the same as simply believing the gospel. But whether we come or not, Christ has done something for every one and He has given everyone the gift of eternal life if they will but have what He gives. That truth humbles every honest heart; it reconciles every believing soul that has been alienated.
Romans 5:3: Blessings start pouring in immediately: "We even exult in our present sufferings, ... and ... such hope is no fantasy; through the Holy Spirit He has given us, God's love [agape] has flooded our hearts (vs. 5)."
Whether we are "worthy" or not, this is what the Lord Jesus does (and of course "we" are not worthy!). The Holy Spirit is a Gift given free to all; the Lord gives the Gift, but everyone receives the gift who will open the heart to receive Him, "that heareth [Him], watching daily at [His] gates, waiting at the posts of [His] doors" (cf. Prov. 8:34).
Romans 5:4: The Lord has further given us the gift of "endurance," which is identical to His "approval." He is delighted when we cherish the faith and hope He has given us, like a chef is happy when we express appreciation of what he has baked for us.
We must pause a moment and look at that word agape. It's the Greek word for love, but it is an entirely different idea than we know naturally. The love we have by nature loves people who are nice; God's agape loves people who are mean and bad. Our love depends on the beauty or value of the person whom we love; God's love creates value or goodness in the one whom He loves. There's where our hope lies!
Our love seeks a reward; Christ in His agape love gave up His reward and died our second death--that is, no light at the end of His tunnel. That was for Him an eternal and infinite sacrifice, which is why Revelation pictures such an end as "the second death" (20:6). It was for Jesus an infinite sacrifice when he endured the horrible guilt of the whole world. Jeremiah asks the plaintive question: "Is it nothing to you, you passers- by?" (Lam. 1:12).
Romans 5:5: And the hope we have "is no fantasy; through the Holy Spirit He has given us, God's love [agape] has flooded our hearts."
The agape "floods" every human heart willing to receive the blessing. But often the gift may be misunderstood initially, for with the gift of the Holy Spirit always comes the gift of repentance. Repentance is often thought of as a sad experience when in fact it is joyous for it means reconciliation with the Lord. You can't imagine a greater joy!
No one can initiate repentance on his own: "God exalted [Christ] ... to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31, KJV). When the Holy Spirit gives you even the faintest touch of that precious "gift," cherish it; and let it grow in your heart-appreciation.
Romans 5:6: "At the appointed time, Christ died for the wicked." It's humiliating, but that's the word that describes those who have rejected the reconciliation that Christ has given them in Himself.
"Christ died." What does that mean? It was a different death than we know. The death that we know the Bible says is a "sleep." The two thieves crucified with Christ died; that means they merely went to sleep. They that "sleep in the dust of the earth will awake," says Daniel (12:2). Was that the "death" that Jesus died? A mere weekend of sleep? (A weekend of sleep would be wonderful after one has endured the painful horror of being crucified!) No, it was far more, for Jesus died our "second death," the death that involved the veritable, eternal "curse" of God. It was on Jesus' part eternal love for us.
Someone may question--didn't He always know that He would be resurrected on the third day after His death on the cross? Yes, He walked in the light of that assurance all His sunlit life and throughout His ministry, until that moment on the cross when He screamed in unutterable anguish, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Why did He scream so? Because the Father truly did forsake Him: "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him," says Isaiah 53:10 (KJV), an inexplicable statement except as we remember that the death that Jesus actually died was our death--the second death. It is hard to say it, but the reality is that the Father loved us more than He loved His only Son!
The fact that He was resurrected the third day does not lessen in the least the full commitment that He made on His cross; and the Father accepts the commitment for the deed.
As He died, Ellen White reminds us, "The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror" (The Desire of Ages, p. 753). Because the father accepts the commitment for the deed, "God raised Him to the heights and bestowed on Him the name above all names" (Phil. 2:9). That total commitment on Christ's part means that He actually died every man's "second death." Therefore that sacrifice of His has enabled the Father to treat "every man" as though he had never sinned! That is the judicial justification that Christ has achieved for every soul on earth!
All this glorious truth we are privileged to "comprehend" here and now, if we do not resist the Holy Spirit. Salvation exists in the realization of this glorious truth; if we don't resist the Holy Spirit who gives the gift, our eternal happiness begins immediately.
If we do resist and reject the gift (it's more than a mere offer!), then before the universe we choose to assume the name of "Esau." We take that name because his character has now become ours; like Esau, we have resisted the Lord's much more abounding grace. (You remember, Esau sold his precious birthright in exchange for some earthly pleasure, and cried buckets of useless tears the rest of his life; cf. Heb. 12:16, 17. May the Lord save us from doing that.)
Then, in the second resurrection, when the "books" are "opened," those who have likewise resisted and rejected the "birthright" gift given them will realize what they have done; in unutterable horror they will abhor themselves. They will again cry "to the mountains and [rocks], 'Fall on us, hide us from the One who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb'" (cf. Rev. 6:15-17). They will at last realize who Jesus is, that He has been their infinite Saviour all their lives, and they have thrust Him from themselves.
That "wrath" is what justification by faith saves us "from." It's what Paul means: "Being now justified by [Christ's] blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Rom. 5:9, KJV). What is that "wrath"?
Lambs do not exercise "wrath." They are known for the opposite. The phrase "wrath of the Lamb" therefore is arresting. We always picture Jesus as sweet and gentle (He would not harm a fly, would He!); but when His "wrath" is aroused--don't get in His way. The "wrath" of the Lamb of God who has been resisted and rejected--thus resulting in the loss of souls beyond our own--this arouses His intense indignation. Sweet, gentle, lowly, loving Jesus morphs into a tower of righteous divine anger--the most solemn and terrible that the universe can know.
Romans 5:7: "Even for a just man one of us would hardly die, though perhaps for a good man one might actually brave death ..." We think of Abraham Lincoln on the night of his assassination: if someone had known that John Wilkes booth would pull the trigger on him, someone might have intervened and taken it instead of the nation's beloved president who was needed to bind up the wounds of the nation's Civil War. But no, ...
Romans 5:8: "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, and that is God's proof of His love towards us." The word "sinners" means people who are at enmity with God, and John says that such enmity is always murder: "Whosoever hateth his brother is [already] a murderer" (1 John 3:15, KJV). When we kneel before the Lord and confess our sins, that is the sin that has been the background of all of our sins!
No one of us can claim that if we had been there that Friday morning in Pilate's courtyard and the mob were yelling about Jesus, "Crucify Him!" that we would have stood up in front of them and said that if you crucify Him you crucify me too! No, none of us would have made ourselves so famous; our "enmity against God" of Romans 8:7 was there in our natural sinful hearts. The murder of the Son of God is the world's unconscious but real sin.
Romans 5:9: "And so, since we have now been justified by Christ's sacrificial death, we shall all the more certainly be saved ... by His life!" (vs. 10). Again, in his thinking Paul's pronoun "we" is the human race; his idea about Jesus is "big."
Christ has already done something for the human race. The Father sent Him down here with a job description--save that lost world! And just before His death, the Son of God tells Him, "I have glorified You on earth by finishing the work which You gave Me to do" (John 17:4). Father, I have saved the world!
This was no idle boast; the job had been done. And Christ did not die in vain; every soul can kneel and thank Him for doing it, for in so doing He actually saved every soul.
Romans 5:10: "If, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more now that we have been reconciled, shall we be saved by His life!" Again, the "we" is us; Paul's heart is not big enough to contain the joy that he senses for us all: wicked and mean as we are by nature, we have been "reconciled" to God by Christ's blood--not a work of fear or of grasping for reward--no; but our heart-appreciation for His love! That simple, that easy. But it does bring tears to our dry eyes.
Romans 5:11: "But that is not all: we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus, through whom we have now been granted reconciliation." To know that there is no sin, no guilt, no dark sorry story in the closet between yourself and the Lord, is joy indescribable!
David's psalm which he wrote after his sin with Bathsheba described "exulting" thus: "Happy is he whose offence is forgiven, whose sin is blotted out! Happy is he to whom the Lord imputes no fault, in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Psalm 32:1, 2).
Romans 5:12: "What does this imply? It was through one man that sin entered the world, and through sin death, and thus death pervaded the whole human race, inasmuch as all have sinned."
That "inasmuch" is eph ho in the Greek--a virtually untranslatable particle of speech; the idea Paul is trying to express is that although we can blame Adam for the entrance of sin, in fact we must blame ourselves. We have all sinned like Adam sinned.
Romans 5:13: "Sin was already in the world before there was law [that is, Mount Sinai]; and although in the absence of law no reckoning is kept of sin, [still]. ...
Romans 5:14: "Death held sway from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned [exactly] as Adam did, by disobeying a direct command--and Adam foreshadows the Man who was to come [Christ]."
Romans 5:15: Now comes the point: "But God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing [it is much more abounding!]. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many [that is everybody], its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many [that is, everybody!] by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ."
"Our beloved brother Paul" is wrestling his way through the grandest "big idea" anyone can think: the Lord Jesus Christ has done something beyond merely dying for everybody: He has justified everybody!
He has not simply died for a race of rebels: He has morphed a race of rebels into a redeemed race of righteous people whose minds and hearts have been dramatically changed forever: they are now at one with Himself.
He has actually changed a world of sinners into a world of righteous people, a people who have become transformed by the much more abounding grace of the Saviour. Paul is on to a "big idea" here that we must handle carefully.
No, in fact, the race of human rebels on earth are not now a race of actually, personally righteous people: but God tells everybody in His vast unfallen universe that they are a race of redeemed, righteous people if they don't resist or reject what He has done and presently does for them!
Christ has done His work correctly; He tells the Father, "I have ... finish[ed] the work which You gave Me to do" (John 17:4). His justification of His people is real, the job is done; but man still has his freedom of will and he can nullify and defeat all that His Saviour has accomplished--so depraved and rebellious is fallen man, the man created "in the image of God" Himself.
Romans 5:16: "And again, the gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin; for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a verdict of acquittal." Paul is obsessed with this idea of "much more" grace!
Romans 5:17: "If, by the wrongdoing of one man, death established its reign through that one man, ... much more shall those who in far greater measure receive grace and the gift of righteousness live and reign through the one Man, Jesus Christ."
Romans 5:18: "It follows, then [brilliant thinking!] that as the result of one misdeed was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all."
Romans 5:19: "For as through the disobedience of one man, many were made [the Greek says, "constituted"] sinners, so through the obedience of one Man many will be made [constituted] righteous [even though they are not!]."
Romans 5:20: "... where sin was multiplied, grace immeasurably exceeded it,
Romans 5:21: "in order that as sin established its reign by way of death, so God's grace might establish its reign in righteousness, and result in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The gospel that has astonished the unfallen universe and has yet to lighten the earth with its glory (see Rev. 18:1-4), shines clear and bright in Paul's Romans five!
--Robert J. Wieland
Endnote:[1] Ellen G. White, MS 7, 1894; Evangelism, p. 169.
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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: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

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