With the beginning of Romans 12, Paul makes a distinct shift in his letter to the Romans. Given the robust theology of the gospel expounded in the first eleven chapters, he now turns to the subject of how believers are to live the truth of the gospel in all their relational as societal spheres. Here in the fist verse, he exhorts believers, on the basis of God’s incredible mercies, to offer themselves as living and holy sacrifices. This is the only fitting response for those redeemed by Christ: to offer our whole self to Him is thanksgiving, praise, worship, and adoration.
Lee Dymond is the Baptist Campus Ministries Pastor at Auburn University Montgomery. In this Sunday evening sermon, he expounds Hebrews 12:1-2 to encourage believers to beware of drifting away in their walks of faith. To keep from drifting, we must lay aside all sin and encumbrance, and set our gaze upon Christ who is the author and perfecter of our faith.
The goal and natural result of all theology is doxology — In other words, the study of doctrine naturally leads to praise and worship and exaltation of the glory and splendor of God. Some have wrongly interpreted these verses to be Paul’s way of waving the white flag of mystery over the doctrines of election and divine sovereignty. A false view! God, through Paul, has clearly taught us the doctrine of sovereign election for all who will give it an honest reading. And having pulled back the veil to show us the sovereign purpose of God in exalting His mercy, even through the existence of sin, Paul is now marveling over what these doctrines have revealed about the eternal wisdom and transcendence of Almighty God!
As we near the end of Romans 11, we see that Israel’s rejection of the gospel was ordained by God so that the gospel would go forth in power among the Gentiles. Thus, in terms of the gospel, they are God’s enemies for our sake. Yet they are also beloved from the standpoint of God’s election. Though Israel has been unfaithful, because of God’s promise to their fathers, His love for them will ultimately be demonstrated and vindicated in their final restoration. This will all take place according to God’s sovereign plan to exalt His mercy in redemption.
In Romans 11:17, Paul likens the people of God to a lovingly cultivated olive tree and acknowledges that some of the branches of this tree were broken off. These broken off branches represent the Israelites who rejected Jesus and thereby forfeited their true spiritual heritage. The wild olive branches represent the Gentiles who “became partakers with them of the rich root.” Unfortunately, some Gentiles take this truth as an occasion to exalt themselves over their Jewish brethren, so Paul responds to such pride by reminding us all of the grace by which we stand.
In Romans 11:1-6, we saw that God has sovereignly maintained a believing remnant in Israel even through her worst times of apostasy. In verses 7-10, we saw that Israel’s rejection was not complete, but only partial. In this sermon on verses 11-16, Paul helps us understand that Israel’s rejection is not final, but only temporary. The rejection of God’s own chosen people has resulted in the Gentiles being reconciled to Him. If we receive this incredible blessing through Israel’s rejection, how much greater will the blessings be when Israel is once again accepted in God’s sight on the basis of their faith in Christ!
In this Psalm we see a demonstration of the distinction between notional, and experiential knowledge. While intellectual knowledge is necessary, it is not sufficient. We are called to live out the truth in relationship to God, in Christ. To this end, the David shares his personal experience of the goodness of God, and then encourages his readers to partake of God in order to experience his goodness for themselves.
The final image we were left with in Romans 10 is that of God reaching out in compassion to Israel only to find them stubbornly and defiantly rejecting His offer of salvation. We are thus left with the question: “Will God wash His hands of them?” Paul’s emphatic answer is “May it never be!” Drawing upon his own personal testimony as well as the experience of the prophet Elijah, Paul reasserts that God will secure the remnant he has chosen for Himself among ethnic Israel.
In Romans 10:15, Paul had built up to a crescendo of praise to God for how He sent out preachers of the Word. But it is that triumph of the ministry of proclamation that makes the plight of lost Israel all the more grievous. Here in Romans 10:16-21, Paul returns the the subject of why Israel rejected their Messiah, and in their plight, we find the rebellious heart of all sinful men exemplified, as well as the compassion of God to save all who will respond to outstretched arms.
As Paul wraps up his opening comments to the church at Ephesus, he offers a prayer for them that is centered around the theme of God’s power displayed in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ. As we ‘know’ God and grow in our understanding of His incredible power, we will deepen in the hope of our calling, realize the riches of the glory of our inheritance, and embrace the surpassing greatness of His power.