Romans Bible Study #33
The Crisis of Knowledge
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is [a]by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,
“BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE,
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
The Word of Faith Brings Salvation
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. NASB
How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:
Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
a stone you can't get around.
But the stone is me! If you're looking for me,
you'll find me on the way, not in the way.
Israel Reduced to Religion
1-3Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what's best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They don't seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God's business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it. THE MESSAGE
I finished this lesson on Sunday and had it on my computer reviewing it for spelling errors when the power went off and the lesson went out into the abyss. I re-did it but this lesson is shorter, and I am hoping will leave more time for feedback and discussion.
Verse 9:30 Our lead in to this section was that a people who were “not my people” were chosen by God and made righteous. God is our ultimate judge and we can not work our way to Him. This is the Krisis of knowledge that Barth speaks of. (I think he uses a ‘k’ because it is an ultimate Krisis he is talking about, not a little crisis.)
Verse 9:31 Faith is miracle, otherwise it is not faith. The law had a purpose, not to lead to God, but to show that God was Other, that there is no system or way to get to Him outside of the way He provided, faith. Faith goes all the way back to Abel and Abraham, the letter to the Hebrews makes this clear. Faith is not an invention of Christianity it existed in the Old Testament. 1 Peter 1:10-12 Pursuing righteousness through the law is a dead end.
Verse 9:32 The law was put there to cause a stumbling. To cause people to go, this isn’t working, this isn’t bringing me the healing and grace of God that I need. “Wrong way” is the sign on the entrance to the street called “Law Street.”
Verse 9:33 This is another way of saying we are under judgment and there is only one way out and only He can put us in that way.
“The church is death before resurrection, the fasting of a bride who does not have her bridegroom, a solitary company in a desert with no support. Jesus is the hidden God who can be apprehended only indirectly not through works but through faith.” Barth
Verse 10:1 Paul is convinced of God’s sovereignty but it does not hinder, slow down, or stop, his intercessory prayer for those he loves.
A quick study of God’s Electing Sovereignty and our call to keep praying.
A. Paul prayerfully yearns for Israel’s salvation. 9:1
1. He once was what they still are. Phil. 3:6 Ga. 1:13-14 Acts 22:3 21:20
2. His belief in election does not stop him from caring, praying, and working for
the conversion of those who are lost. II Ti. 2:10 I Co. 9:16-27
3. His care for the lost reflects God’s concern for the lost.
Ezek. 18:23,32 33:11 I Ti. 2:3-4 II Pe. 3:9 Luke 23:34 Acts 7:60
4. Even when people are hard, he does not write them off or give up on them.
B. Why pray if God has already chosen who will be saved? 9:15-16 Eph. 1:4
1. God tells you to pray for the lost. Eph. 6:19
2. God answers your prayers. Mt. 7:7-11 James 5:16
3. God uses your prayers as a means to the salvation of the lost. 10:14-15
4. Don’t use your limited knowledge of God’s secret will as an excuse to disobey
His revealed will. Deut. 29:29
5. Pray because God alone can change the hearts of the lost. 8:7-8 3:10
Acts 16:14 Ezek. 11:19 II Ti. 2:25-26 Election encourages prayer. Jim Newheiser
Verse 10:2 In the presence of God all of the “goodness” that zeal for religious pursuits can produce, will have no final validity. It will be nothing more than a “tower of Babel.” The lack of knowledge is the lack of knowing that God is completely Other. Our ways are under judgment. We are under judgment.
Verse 10:3 Barth had an excellent section on how even we in the church are seeking to establish a righteousness of our own.
“Who does not substitute for the righteousness of this unapproachable God some very refined, very excellent, very significant, righteousness of his own, to which is added, of course, some such phrase as ‘with the help of God’ or ‘trusting in God’? Who does not substitute some plan or program or method, some new thing, some new ‘interpretation of the truth’, some movement or task, which gives us less to create but more to do, less to ponder but more to talk about, less to endure but more to undertake, than does the righteousness of God? And so we introduce a ‘thing’ by which men--and especially religious men--secure an advantage for themselves. Immersed in the happiness of doing and speaking and inaugurating, busy with reforms and revolutions, they are able to forget the judgment hanging over their heads, and so the ‘thing’ on which they are engaged turns out more to their credit than if they were to seek naught else but to fear and to love God above all things. Was there ever a period when the Church was free of the temptation to substitute a human righteousness of its own for the righteousness of God?” Barth
John Piper on the importance of teaching our children and anyone we teach the truth of righteousness by faith.
Teach the children to look to Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and for the righteousness they need to stand before God.
Help them see that Christ is their only hope. Show them what it means to cleave to him and hope in him and cherish him as more precious than life.
Teach them that trusting Christ as the king of righteousness not only brings them a right standing before God, but also dethrones sin in their lives.
Help them see how two things happen when faith connects them to Jesus: one is that his righteousness counts for ours before God, so that we are fully accepted in Christ; and the other is that power begins to flow though this connection to overcome sin. So a progressive personal righteousness is the necessary fruit of a perfect imputed righteousness.
Of course, we won’t use that language (progressive, personal, imputed) with a seven-year-old. What will we say? We will say:
"Talitha,(John Piper’s daughters name) mommy and daddy have lived a long time and have learned from the Bible and from our lives that we and you will never be good enough to meet God’s perfect standards. We still make mistakes after all these years. We sin. That’s why the Bible says that God gave us his Son to die for our sins and to be our righteousness. His perfect death counts for our punishment, and his perfect obedience counts for righteousness, if we trust him. So always look to Jesus. Always trust Jesus. And remember, Talitha, since God didn’t spare his own Son, but gave him for us all, he will surely give us everything we need in this life and the next (Romans 8:32; Philippians 4:19). All the promises of God belong to us because of Jesus. So when you trust him, be sure that you trust him for everything he has done and everything he has promised and everything he has purchased. And that faith will help you not to sin, because when you trust Jesus to give you the best future, you won’t want to sin to make a better future. So always trust Jesus for everything he’s done and everything he promises. By faith he will be your perfect righteousness, so that you don’t have to fear, and by that same faith he will help you do what’s right."
Finally, pray for the children.
Pray for the little ones. Pray for the prodigals without ceasing. Let Romans 10:1 be your daily testimony: "Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved." Don’t grow weary. Don’t let go. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Tell it often, tell it well. Be patient and pray. Amen.