Recall that part one is where we see the mystery of God defined. When we left off in part two I was suggesting, because it’s what scripture is revealing, that there exists a common faith that connects the called and chosen in Israel with the called and chosen of the Gentiles.
For those who called him Lord were right in that he is Lord over all and in all. And though the mystery was hidden from Israel and from the world, it was God’s will that they, being elected and chosen, would be partakers of the mystery in Christ – though unknowingly.
This third article will dig deeper into the context of the mystery to identify its relationship to Israel and to further expand on how they benefit from it. Since I’m suggesting, as scripture does, that faith was delivered to the saints of old, that leads us to ask – what was the means by which it was delivered?
The following notes are taken from my book . . .
The Rapture Question: An Unfiltered View
Revealed from Faith to Faith
For that we must return to Romans. Here again I suggest a complete and thorough reading of the entire book to get the full grasp of what Paul is proclaiming. I will draw out highlights that clarify his point on the subject.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
- The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. To the Jew first.
- The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith
It seems fitting that the Jews should get preference here, at least in a general sense, since theirs was the promise long before it was offered to the Gentiles. Being one of the tribes of Israel, they are part of the natural branches. Now, as in the past, the righteousness of God was manifested in faith by those who believed and lived. But faith lived is faith received from God – it is the gift of God. And though the law constrained many in Israel from attaining the righteousness through belief in God, some did. Recall that Romans 11:17 is consistent when it declares that some of the branches (of Israel) were broken off. Not all.
- By faith a man is justified, not by the law
- It is one God who justifies both Jews and Gentiles by faith. The Jews don’t have one God and the Gentiles another.
- The promise to Abraham and his posterity was made through the righteousness of faith, not the law
- Acceptance with God depends on faith, not on works
Romans 4:16, 23-25
- By faith we are justified by grace – it is a gift
- Both Abraham and us are justified by the same faith
- And therefore look to the same salvation – the common salvation
- Did not Christ, through his blood, reconcile all – past, present, and future; in this time period, any previous and any future?
- Though all are reconciled, it doesn’t require that all have the same role
- Does not his resurrection overcome death for all? Especially to those who believe?
- God poured out his mercy on those he called in Israel first (Romans 11:5-7)
- But also the Jews and Gentiles
- To the Gentile – I will call them a people
- To Israel – a remnant shall be saved (Isaiah 10:22)
- Many in Israel who did not attain to righteousness did so due to lack of faith
- But what of those whom God gave faith to believe?
- And those to whom he accounted righteousness?
Surely that faith, which comes by grace is the same faith we have in common in the one body – that is Christ, leading us to the common salvation we look for at his appearing.
Romans 10; 12; 13
- There is one Lord, over all – to those who call on the Lord
Has God extended this grace to some in Israel?
- A remnant in Israel remains, by grace, through faith
- The elected ones in Israel attained what Israel as a nation sought but did not attain
Were there not those in Israel who rejoiced to see and know the promise of God fulfilled in his Redeemer? Didn’t the twelve, including many in Israel who believed in the Lord, abide in a faith already established before his appearing?
- The branch of Israel is based on the same root – Christ, and we are all one
- Made holy by the firstfruit – Christ
- Though some were cut off, did not some remain?
- We (the Gentiles) are the adopted ones, of the wild branches grafted in
- By what arrogance do we assume righteousness over Israel and those whom God chose and elected in Israel by his grace?
- All who dwell in righteousness are already grafted in through belief
Is not the branch, upon which the faithful in Israel are based, connected to the same root of the tree to which we Gentiles are grafted in – that is Christ?
- They who have been granted righteousness in Israel are of the natural olive tree
- One aspect of the mystery:
- Blindness to a degree has befallen many in Israel
- Until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in
- And then all Israel shall be saved
- A deliverer (Christ) shall come out of Zion
- He shall remove ungodliness from Jacob (Israel)
- They shall have the same covenant from God – when he has forgiven their sins
- Those in unbelief in Israel are, according to the gospel: Enemies (disobedient) for our sake, that the believing Gentiles might be grafted in
- Yet still elected and chosen as the people of God and beloved
- God has not withdrawn his call
- There will again be mercy upon them just as there is now upon us
Paul provides a concluding wrapper, the larger context, for the work that God is doing in Christ.
Romans 11:32 – For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. (KJV)
Though Israel were the first people of God, their pathway to salvation came through disobedience. This is not so different from ourselves. As Gentiles we were apart from God, living in disobedience, until we were called into Christ by the hearing of the word of God. Being chosen by God to be the recipients of salvation through faith. Was not this same salvation sought by those whom God elected in Israel by grace?
1 Peter 1:9-12
- The reward of faith is the salvation of our souls
- The prophets searched and prophesied concerning the grace to be delivered to us
- By the Spirit of Christ which dwelt in them
- They were not serving themselves, but you
So if they, by the grace of God received faith and righteousness, were accepted into the one body – Jesus Christ, how much more should they, being the natural branches of the tree, obtain salvation through Christ Jesus at his appearing? It is this faithful remnant that will inherit the fulness of the promises and will serve in Christ’s kingdom in a role separate from those of the rest of the nation.
Let’s take a moment then to expand our list of characteristics of the mystery of God:
- Unity with the Father and with Christ for all (Fourth Gospel 14, 17)
- Salvation to the Gentiles, their hope of glory (Colossians 1; 2)
- Heirs together in the body with Israel, one new man from the two (Ephesians 2; 3)
- The appearance of Christ as the Son of God to the world (Fourth Gospel 17)
- Called to glorify Christ at his appearing and to glorify God at the day (or trial)
(1 Peter 2, 2 Thessalonians 1, Fourth Gospel 17)
- The grace of God and the covenant of salvation for Gentiles and for Israel
- Israel will eventually attain the promises sought, though some, through belief, have already obtained (Romans 11)
- That promise of salvation is magnified in Christ, the source of eternal life
Is it any surprise then that Paul concludes the matter in Romans 11 astounded – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!