Geneva – 15th September 1844 To Mr B R Dear Brother I have read your chart, on the words έπιφάλεια – epiphaleia, φαυερόω – phaueroa, άποκάλυψις – apokalupsis, with some attention. I have gone over your second chart on the gospels, and I seize a moment to say a word to you. But first, I […]
The New Testament history bears the proven stamp of perfect divine arrangement. My object is to draw attention to the question which is often silently dropped — Who is the author of the New Testament history? Whose will, purpose or plan is behind this history of the Lord Jesus? Is it a divine or a human one? If the purpose and moving was of the Holy Spirit, I must look for His carrying that purpose out.
Even though he had never been to Rome, Paul’s heart was at home with many there. He knew the faith and service of some, and wrote to them as an assembly. As the apostle of the nations, he had his service for Christ for those in Rome.
He had a comprehensive service, embracing all the counsels of God, bringing the elements of the gospel together, to make the saints complete in Christ. The fruit will be hereafter. The apostle cites many who served diligently in the sphere in which God had placed them – from those who were of note among the apostles, to Phoebe, the deaconess or servant of the church at Cenchrea, who had been a helper of many. God does not forget any.
In the providence of God’s ordered path, Paul witnessed to all the authorities from the Sanhedrim to the Emperor, and the Lord’s grace sustained him in it. His apostolic service was to close in unwilling captivity, and Paul is delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles to suffer in grace, like his Lord, at their hands. Of course, Paul did not face it perfectly like the Lord Himself: He did so in the calmness of unvarying perfection, drinking the cup none else could, and that, if it could be, was more perfect than anything.
The Christian should not put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way. It is uncharitable to lead a weaker brother to violate his conscience – that would drive him away from Christ, as if Christ made the one for whom He died lawless. We should not despise the weak brother or sister because of the scruples which they would not have, if they understood deliverance. Conversely, the weak person should not judge the strong, charging him with evil because of his freedom. God will be the Judge. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God’ (v.12).
n Romans 13, Paul exhort the Christians in Rome to be subject to the civil authorities, ‘the powers that be’. Civil power is of God, so where there is power, it must be of God; I own God and the authorities. Resisting them is resisting God’s ordinance. They are God’s ministers to maintain order. So we pay our bills and taxes, thus fulfilling the law.
Having been set free in the power of the Spirit of life, we voluntarily present our bodies living sacrifices to God. It is not a blind ritual ceremony, nor a legal obligation, but the free service of a willing mind. We offer our minds and bodies intelligently to God, consecrated and set apart: this is acceptable to God. Because we are alive to God in Christ, and through grace free from the law of sin and death we can yield ourselves to God
God’s covenant to take away Israel’s sins is sure. It will be accomplished when Christ comes. The final restoration of Israel will be on the ground of the promises made to the fathers, not through the law, but with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel had rejected Christ: therefore they became objects of mercy, just like the Gentiles. As the Gentiles had been unbelieving, mercy had been the only ground of their entering. Now the unbelieving Jews had were also objects of God’s sovereign mercy.
Grace had dealt with sinners, and wisdom had reconciled God’s faithfulness to His promises, with the heirs of those promises, through their coming under mercy. This calls out the adoring praise of the apostle in contemplating the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God
‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (v. 31). God is for us, giving, justifying, and despite the difficulties, nothing shall separate us from His love – that is the great central truth of grace. He justifies us Himself – little matter who condemns us then!
So there may be difficulties, trials, and dangers in the way. Satan’s power against us, death, has been removed: therefore we more than conquer. Angels and powers – creature power or creature weakness – cannot separate us from the love of God. God is stronger than any creature; yet He who, as Man, went through everything, meeting the whole hostile power of death, secures us for glory against all opposition.
That law as applied to the inward man.
That in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing (18)
That the old man has died so we can say, ‘When we were in the flesh’ (5).
That it is not I; (because I hate sin having being renewed); It is then sin in me
That it is too strong for me.
So I stop trying to be better, and look for a Deliverer instead. The Deliverer is Jesus. Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!