Romans Discussion Part One

Question 1 – How does salvation for an Israelite work?

The real question should have been: what makes salvation for them any different than salvation for anyone else? Because salvation is through the blood of Christ, salvation is exactly the same for anyone, Jew or Gentile. In chapter 4, Paul places everyone in the same boat by using Abraham as an example of righteousness through faith rather than through the Law or circumcision. Although the Jews have connected with God through the Law since Moses and circumcision since Abraham, Paul emphasizes from chapter 3 to chapter 7 that the Law can only show people that they are sinful but it cannot produce righteousness and that circumcision was intended to serve as a seal of righteousness but does not bring righteousness of its own. Later in 7:4, Paul speaks about the fact that Christians have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that we can belong to Christ, who was raised from to dead to enable us to bear fruit.

But although salvation can only be found for the Jew or the Gentile through calling on Jesus Christ, it was mentioned that is was probably more difficult for Jews to turn to Christ instead of the Law.  For hundreds of years the Jews had found righteousness in what they did rather than what someone did for them. They are the children of promise and perhaps it was difficult for them to accept that now Gentiles could accept God’s favor in the exact same way.

Question 2 – What makes the Jews special?

The biggest thing that makes the Jews special is God’s promise to Abraham found in Genesis 12:1-3 when God said,

Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (ESV)

The Jews were the children of the promise and carried with them the blessing of God. They were given the Law and the prophets and had the gospel preached to them in advance. Paul explains in Romans 11 that the Jews are the natural branches attached to the “nourishing root,” which symbolized God’s blessing to Abraham.

The blessing of God can also be seen in the nation of Israel. The United States’ blessing is an extension of this because of our nation’s support of Israel. Everything in the world revolves around what happens in Israel, even though they are a very small country. In fact, they are one of, if not the only, country in the Middle East that does not produce oil on a large scale but they are still in the middle of everything important that happens.

Question 2b – How should a Gentile relate with a Jew?

It was mentioned that it must be difficult for the Jews to accept that Gentiles can be grafted into the same olive tree and that Gentiles ought to be sensitive to this point. It is like a parent adopting a child and giving them the same exact rights and privileges as their natural child. It is understandable in the natural that the natural child might feel jealous. The adopted child ought to realize the gift that he or she has received and not be arrogant of their new-found standing. Paul emphasizes this in 11:17-18 when he says, “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” Gentiles should be quick to consider that their blessing comes from the root of Abraham.

Question 3 – Can a saved individual be cut off from their salvation? Why?

The 3 biggest issues brought up were: 1) Is is possible to have a true conversion to Christ and subsequently change your mind and reject Christ? 2) If it is not possible, how can we explain verses like Hebrews 6:4-6, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the son of god to their own harm and holding him up in contempt.” 3) Does this question truly matter if both sides agree from a practical standpoint?

It was argued that if Christ had truly converted someone to himself, that person would never be able to leave him (the idea of perseverance of the saints). It could be that the person who seems to fall away was never truly in relationship with Christ to begin with and therefore could leave the relationship because it was never really a relationship. Conversely, it was argued that in light of the verse above, it seems that people can in fact share in the Holy Spirit and then fall away. Why couldn’t someone choose no longer to be in relationship with Christ and therefore cease to be “in Christ”? This would seem to result in a loss of their salvation.

The final thought discussed comes from Paul’s exclamation immediately after his statement about groups or individuals being “broken off,” when he says that no one can understand the mind of God. Could it be that since we will never be able to understand this completely, we should focus on how salvation works practically more than theologically? In both viewpoints, there is a moment of repentance and then a continual relationship with the Lord in order to have salvation. Is is possible that understanding this is the most important aspect of salvation and that we ought to leave the decisions about the loss of salvation in God’s hands?


15 responses to “Romans Discussion Part One

  1. Interesting. So my pastor actually was teaching on Love today (I know, ironic, but not in the romantic sense, rather agape. Just happened that Colossians 3:14 was next up, he’s been teaching through colossians for a while now). Anyway, so cross-referencing this with the law, one of the verses that was brought up was Romans 13:8-10. And if you add in what Jesus said, that not one stroke of a pen will be removed from the law, then you have an interesting thing happening here – Jesus, in His love, completed and fulfilled the law for us. This is awesome stuff (and I mean that in the literal sense of the word, not the over-used slang sense).

    Cool quote from church today (I was rather fascinated with this quote and actually emailed Michael to get the reference):
    All attributes of God are best seen as various attempts to describe dimensions of God’s fundamental character – love, as it is experience by his creation. ~Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God

    • I like that quote… I think its cool to think about it that way. We see such small fragments of God that it makes sense. Justice, mercy, grace, are all wrapped up in perfect love because true love means loving everyone enough to make sure justice is satisfied.

      • on the Quote about Love means loving everything. i read Josh Mcdoul’s
        Evidence that demands a verdict and he talked about how Jesus would probably react and how he would do it in such a way that would never offend never and in a wrong way, let me explain he would amagine walking with him and how we get mad at the little things Jesus would just let it go without effecting him giving it no chance to angering him. and i say for this reason he loved people so much that he wouldn’t even give them a look or even a remark indicating the dislike except when he needed too. like twards his last days. this is Love and what an awsome example of how to live. Jesus is the only way in everything about everything.

  2. I also rather appreciated your pragmatic view of the salvation question – either way you interpret those scriptures, the end result is the same, so not really worth arguing about. I actually had a pastor that argued pretty strenuously for the “can’t lose salvation” side, hinging his argument on the “tasted” verb in hebrews 6. Myself, I’m not 100% convinced either way – I’m content knowing that no external force can take me away 🙂

  3. In response to our discussion last Thursday about #3 Can an individual be cut of from their salvation? Everything in me wants to say, “NO!” But I have to remember the analogy Paul used about the branches, Romans 11:21 “if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.” In some way I agree with the young man who asked, “was their salvation real?” As a person who gas been grafted in, I realize not all grafts take. It is interesting to note that Jesus used branches as a visual also. John 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. It is clear to me that a branch that stays in the vine lives while the other brances die. John 15:6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such brances are picked up thrown into the fire and burned. Separation from the vine is our own choice.

    • question #1
      how does salvation for an Isrealite work?

      for them it might seem easy to be saved wheather by the Law which applied moreso in the Old Testement, and we know it is only thru Jesus Christ. so my answer is easy for them to be saved.
      they need to recieve Jesus and not the Law for salvation, clearly we need the Law but Christ opens the door to salvation.

      if i choose to walk away from my blood family want nothing to do with them i have the same blood although choosing to live in the shadows or in solitude resulting in family disconnection, also death and a solitude life.

      Abraham stated this family if i choose not to be a part of it the choice is mine and i will face the consiquences knowing full well of my actions.

      i want to praise God for the adoption into the kingdom of God and i will rejoice and be glad in it truly live out the words of this great hyme.

  4. From Saul:

    i wrote about the fist discussion that if once saved always saved and how i disagree on one hand because the fruits of the individual will have to be proven but if the determination is there with knowledge and they are constantly used then the word says we go from Glory to Glory.
    based on Romans 4- 11 if you who are reading this want to see why we are dicussing salvation.
    ‘God Bless you.

  5. I’m going to try and hit on questions 1-3 a little bit: I agree that the Jews are special bacause of God’s covenant with Abraham. Now on the relationship between the Jew and Gentile, (or relationship between the Jew and the rest of the world) The Jew brings to mind the analogy of a family that has biological children and they adopt another child, its natural for the biological children to have a thoughts cross their mind of jealousy and maybe even a little angry at times. If I were the adopted child I would feel obligated to let the biological child know that I repect them highly and to let them know that I feel like they should have more than me. Same with the Jew/Gentile relationship… as far as salvation goes of course the Jew has to go through the same process has the Gentile, no difference at all.

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