This is the long un-edited version of how I go about putting together
our twice monthly Bible Study, Oswald Chambers, Karl Barth, John Piper, and Vine's Expository Dictionary of the Bible, all play a part in this lesson.
When our old computers hard drive was totally lost, i was grateful that i had posted these on the internet.
Romans Bible Study # 18
Since this is only three verses, I felt like we could spend some time following the process of a typical “Bible Study” and how it comes together.
Our introduction is from the greatest Christian daily devotional ever, by Oswald Chambers.
THE FORGIVENESS OF GOD
"In whom we have . . . the forgiveness of sins." Ephesians 1:7
Beware of the pleasant view of the Fatherhood of God - God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That sentiment has no place whatever in the New Testament. The only ground on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ; to put forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy. The only ground on which God can forgive sin and reinstate us in His favor is through the Cross of Christ, and in no other way. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of Calvary. It is possible to take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification with the simplicity of faith, and to forget at what enormous cost to God it was all made ours.
Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace; it cost God the Cross of Jesus Christ before He could forgive sin and remain a holy God. Never accept a view of the Fatherhood of God if it blots out the Atonement. The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive; He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the Atonement. God's forgiveness is only natural in the supernatural domain.
Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is slight. Sanctification is simply the marvelous expression of the forgiveness of sins in a human life, but the thing that awakens the deepest well of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven sin. Paul never got away from this. When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God. John Piper illustrated it this way. A family moves in next door to a single guy. Their first night there the house catches fire and a young boy is trapped in the upstairs bedroom, through a daring, brave rescue the single guy risks his life and gets many bad burns but saves the boy. He and the boy become friends and one day, the boy says, “When you come home from work, can you come over and teach me how to yo-yo?” The guy promises to. As the day drags on, the little boy says to his father, “I don’t know, maybe he won’t come to help me learn how to yo-yo tonight.” His father replied, “He went through the flames for you, he will be here to do this.” This is the “much more” of verse 10 that we are about to read. Oswald Chambers
This was the “day” Nov. 20th and I was so happy to find it because it is the perfect confirmation of this passage.
November 21st was equally good.
"I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." John 17:4
The Death of Jesus Christ is the performance in history of the very Mind of God. There is no room for looking on Jesus Christ as a martyr; His death was not something that happened to Him which might have been prevented: His death was the very reason why He came.
Never build your preaching of forgiveness on the fact that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us. It is untrue to Jesus Christ's revelation of God; it makes the Cross unnecessary, and the Redemption "much ado about nothing." If God does forgive sin, it is because of the Death of Christ. God could forgive men in no other way than by the death of His Son, and Jesus is exalted to be Saviour because of His death. "We see Jesus because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor." The greatest note of triumph that ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ - "It is finished." That is the last word in the Redemption of man.
Anything that belittles or obliterates the holiness of God by a false view of the love of God, is untrue to the revelation of God given by Jesus Christ. Never allow the thought that Jesus Christ stands with us against God out of pity and compassion; that He became a curse for us out of sympathy with us. Jesus Christ became a curse for us by the Divine decree. Our portion of realizing the terrific meaning of the curse is conviction of sin, the gift of shame and penitence is given us - this is the great mercy of God. Jesus Christ hates the wrong in man, and Calvary is the estimate of His hatred. Oswald Chambers
Our Verses for this week:
9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. NASB
9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah! The Message
Dialectical - any systematic reasoning, exposition, or argument that juxtaposes opposed or contradictory ideas and usually seeks to resolve their
discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation; specifically : the Socratic techniques of exposing false beliefs and eliciting truth
Barth used this word in discussing this passage and I was totally unfamiliar with it. Quoting a section where he used the word twice.
“We are - new men” This new constitution is indirect and dialectical; it comes into being only by faith. By His blood we are justified/ as enemies we are - reconciled to God through the death of His Son. We must therefore never allow this dialectical presupposition to be hardened or petrified into a concrete and direct occurrence. It is valid only by faith, and it exists only in the fear of the Lord and the light of the Resurrection. Only so, are we and have we; only so, are we competent and do we come; only so, does redemption draw near; only so, shall we be saved from the wrath under which we still stand here and now. For the life which has been manifested through the death of Christ is salvation to those who are reconciled with God through the death of His Son. How then is it possible for us not to glory in hope through our Lord Jesus Christ?”
Our exalting in God, through Jesus Christ is the proof that we have received the reconciliation.
Then in “Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Bible” “When the writers of the New Testament speak upon the subject of the wrath of God, “the hostility is represented not as on the part of God, but of man. It is we who need to be reconciled to God, not God to us, and it is propitiation , which His righteousness and mercy have provided, that makes the reconciliation possible to those who receive it.
That seems to contradict some of what Piper says about the wrath of God, and making sure that we do not negate or downplay the wrath of God, that the love of God is forced to surmount and overcome. Quoting Piper’s sermon, “The verse ends with the promise that because of what Christ has done, "we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." There it is. God has wrath, or anger, toward the world of sinners. He is an enemy of sinners. The greatest obstacle to our everlasting happiness is the wrath of God. Because if God is against us, it doesn't matter who is for us, we are ruined.
So I conclude on this first observation that we were all enemies of God, we toward him in rebellion, and he toward us in wrath, and therefore we all needed to be reconciled to God. There would be no hope without the removal of his wrath and our rebellion.”
Piper makes a second point and it seems in recognizing the wrath of God it further exalts the amazing blessing of Jesus taking that wrath upon Himself on the cross.
“God the Father himself has worked in the past decisively and will work in the future infallibly to rescue us from his wrath.
Now, don't miss this remarkable part of the good news. The Bible makes it plain that God will one day pour out the full measure of his wrath on the sinful unbelieving world, and the unrepentant will be cast into what John calls the "lake of fire." Revelation 20:15, "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." And Revelation 14:10 describes it like this: They will "be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever." It is like fire. It is torment. It is forever and ever with no end.
This is terrifying. If enmity ever had meaning, this is it. If this is not having an enemy, then there is no such thing as having an enemy. God will one day pour out his enmity - his wrath - on the whole world of humankind who have ever lived and not trusted him.
The question is: Who can rescue us from this wrath of God? The clear answer of this text - and the whole New Testament - is this: Only God can rescue us from the wrath of God.
Where can we see this? Notice these five passive verbs. Verse 9: "having now been justified, [number 1] shall we be saved [number 2]." Verse 10: "If while we were enemies we were reconciled [number 3] to God through the death of his Son, much more having been reconciled [number 4], we shall be saved [number 5] by his life." In all those actions we are being acted upon. Who is acting? Who is doing this justifying, reconciling, saving? The answer is God the Father. How do we know that? Because in verse 10 it says, "we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son." But if the Son was doing the reconciling, it wouldn't say he did it "through the Son." You wouldn't say. "The Son of God reconciled us to God through his Son."
No. The Father, himself, loves us. That was the clear point of verse 8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Here's the good news: the love of God rescues us from the wrath of God. Don't try to defend the love of God for us by denying the wrath of God against sinners. If you do, you will undermine the love of God. Because the greatest demonstration of the love of God is the way it rescues us from the wrath of God. If you deny wrath to defend love, you lose love.
So this second point, so far, is that God the Father himself works to rescue us from his wrath. And the other part of this second point is that he has done this in the past, and he will do it in the future. This is the way both verse 9 and 10 are built. Verse 9: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood [that's the past work of God - "blood" referring to the death of his Son whom he sent], we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him [that's the future work of God]." Then verse 10: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son [the past work of God in history], much more, having been reconciled [in the past], we shall be saved by His life [the work of God in the future]."
So the second point is that God the Father himself has worked in the past decisively and will work in the future infallibly to rescue us from his wrath.”
Piper has a third point.
“So the third observation is this: Both God's past work and God's future work to rescue us are through the work of Christ his Son. Justification and reconciliation in the past and salvation in the future are through Jesus Christ. He is indispensable in the work of salvation. And the Father means for him to have his glory.
The implications of this for our worship and teaching and evangelism are enormous, because Jesus said, "He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" (John 5:23). If you don't worship Jesus, you don't worship God. And John wrote, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (1 John 5:12; see also 2:23).”
Piper’s final point is made in an illustration that brings out the truth conveyed by the words “much more.”
“4. The final observation is the main one in this text, namely this: The past work of God in Christ increases for us the certainty of the future work of God to save us from his wrath.
I say this is the main point of the passage because everything else serves this point and because you see it repeated in the words "much more." Let's read verses 9 and 10 one more time, this time focusing on the heart-assuring logic of each verse. If logic was ever set on fire, surely it is in these two verses. Verse 9: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."
Now do you see how this phrase "much more" is functioning? Children, consider this illustration. You move with your parents into a new neighborhood. And during the first night a fire breaks out in your house. Your neighbor - let's call him Mr. Peterson - sees the smoke, calls the fire department, breaks a window, wakes everybody up, crawls inside, gets your mom and dad to safety, but they have passed out. He hears you calling from an upstairs bedroom before the fire fighters arrive. He dashes up the stairs, wets a blanket in the bathtub, plunges through flames in the hall, wraps you in the blanket and brings you safely outside with terrible burns on his arms and face.
Over the next months you become very close friends with your Mr. Peterson and visit him in the hospital. One morning after he gets home, you ask him, "Mr. Peterson, will you come over this afternoon and show me a new trick with my yo-yo?" Mr. Peterson says, "Sure, I'd love to." But during the day you start to wonder if he will really come. And you say to your father, "I'm not sure Mr. Peterson will come this afternoon. He might forget, or maybe he really doesn't care about a little kid like me."
And then your father says, "You know what? If Mr. Peterson was willing to run through fire to save you at the risk of his own life and getting terrible burns, then how much more will he be willing to come over and show you a new yo-yo trick this afternoon! If he did the hard thing for you, then all the more surely, he will do the easy thing."
Do you see how the "much more" in verse 9 works? "Much more then, having been justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him." The point is to make you all the more confident and assured that God will save you.
It's the same in verse 10: "For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." If Mr. Peterson risked his life to save you when he didn't even know you yet, how much more, now that you are friends, will he keep his word and come to play with you!
God has done the hardest thing in sacrificing his Son to reconcile his enemies. How shall he not save his friends!? He will! Much more, he will!”
Looking back, are Piper and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Bible at odds or is the tension their differing interpretations create, a good tension? One that forces us to think deeper, and appreciate God more. That is how I see it, in fact that is how I see most disagreements within the church. Two angles, two ways of looking at the same truth.