Romans 8:5-17 in the Context and Flow.
The first Europeans who came to the New World called the natives “Indians”, thinking they were inhabitants of India. They were dead wrong. Yet, even after finding out they were wrong, Europeans stubbornly continued to call the natives “Indians,” unwilling to correct this mistake. The mistake of yesterday is today’s orthodoxy. We want to maintain orthodoxy at all cost.
Orthodox Christianity has committed the same error with regards to words which make-up the foundation of their entire system. There are many words orthodoxy uses wrongly, but let’s stick with two examples, because they are whoppers. These two main words which define the entire orthodox system are “Hell” and “Repentance.” Even though these English words and the concepts associated with them have no relation to the Greek and Hebrew words they are supposed to translate, orthodoxy still continues to perpetuate the same error.
Orthodoxy says Christ came to save you from something that doesn’t exist by doing something you’re never told to do. The words “hell” and “repentance” are as accurate as the word “Indian,” and those who use those words have no desire of correcting their mistake.
Property stolen in one generation becomes a sacred unalienable right of private property protected by law and catechism in the next.
What is the “Romans Seven Experience” all about? What is the solution?
In Genesis 15, Abraham was “reckoned righteous.” Was Abraham a “saved” man before he was reckoned righteous?
Keep in mind that Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees in Genesis 11. He did that “by faith” according to Hebrews 11:8.
Abraham built a tent in Genesis 12. He did that “by faith” according to Hebrews 11:9. According to Hebrews 11:10, he did it because “he looked” for a city whose builder and maker is God.
Abraham built an alter in Genesis 12 and 13. He did that because he worshiped the true and living God in a world of idolatry. See Joshua 24:2.
Yet, after all that, Abraham wasn’t reckoned righteous until the fifteenth chapter of Genesis.
So here are a few questions:
1. Was Abraham a “saved” man before he was reckoned righteous?
2. If your answer is yes, what was the point of his justification if he was already a believer?
3. Is justification for a saved person or a lost person?
4. If your answer is no to the first question, how can an “unsaved” man worship, live by faith, and hope in God’s promises?
The point is this: justification is for the believer, not the “heathen,” not the person who doesn’t know God.
Coming to this conclusion solves the great problem, a self-created problem by Christians, regarding the differences between Paul and James on justification. Both James and Paul use examples of BELIEVING people’s actions when they discuss justification by faith. Rahab believed in the living and true God long before the spies set foot in her home.
Church historian Phillip Schaff describes the differences between James and Paul beautifully:
James, the brother of the Lord, in keeping with his life-long labors in Jerusalem…holds most closely to the Mosaic religion, and represents the gospel itself as law, yet as the “perfect law of liberty.” Herein lies the difference as well as the unity of the two dispensations. The “law” points to the harmony, the qualifying “perfect” and “liberty” to the superiority of Christianity, and intimates that Judaism was imperfect and a law of bondage, from which Christ has set us free.
Paul, on the contrary, distinguishes the gospel as freedom from the law, as a system of slavery; but he re-establishes the law on the basis of freedom, and sums up the whole Christian life in the fulfilment of the law of love to God and to our neighbor; therein meeting James from the opposite starting-point.
James…lays great stress on good works which the law requires, but he demands works which are the fruit of faith in Him, whom he, as his servant, reverently calls “the Lord of glory”…Such faith, moreover, is the result of the new birth, which he traces to “the will of God” through the agency of “the word of truth,” that is, the gospel. As to the relation between faith and works and their connection with justification at the tribunal of God, he seems to teach the doctrine of justification by faith and works; while Paul teaches the doctrine of justification by faith alone, to be followed by good works, as the necessary evidence of faith…
But the contradiction between James and Paul is verbal rather than logical and doctrinal, and admits of a reconciliation which lies in the inseparable connection of a living faith and good works, or of justification and sanctification, so that they supplement and confirm each other, the one laying the true foundation in character, the other insisting on the practical manifestation…they wrote from different standpoints and opposed different errors, and thus presented two distinct aspects of the same truth.
James says: Faith is dead without works.
Paul says: Works are dead without faith.
The one insists on a working faith, the other on faithful works.
Both are right: James in opposition to the dead Jewish orthodoxy, Paul in opposition to self-righteous legalism. James does not demand works without faith, but works prompted by faith; While Paul, on the other hand, likewise declares a faith worthless which is without love, though it remove mountains, and would never have attributed a justifying power to the mere belief in the existence of God, which James calls the trembling faith of demons.
But James mainly looks at the fruit, Paul at the root; the one is concerned for the evidence, the other for the principle; the one takes the practical and experimental view, and reasons from the effect to the cause, the other goes deeper to the inmost springs of action, but comes to the same result: a holy life of love and obedience as the necessary evidence of true faith. And this, after all, is the ultimate standard of judgment according to Paul as well as James. Paul puts the solution of the difficulty in one sentence: “faith working through love.”
Pharaoh resisted letting Israel go. After suffering various judgments he made concessions. One time he said the men could go, but their families had to stay behind. Later he said their families could go too, but their flocks and herds had to stay behind. Moses refused. Here’s the text:
Ex. 10:24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.
25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.
26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.
Israel was to be delivered from Egypt so that they could serve the living and true God. What would God require for service? They wouldn’t know until they were on redemption’s ground. But one thing they did know was this: service includes the individual, the family, and all their possessions.
Redemption isn’t a mere “inward” work of God. Redemption includes the heart and the whole life.
“I am thine and all that I possess.”
Coming up in the next lesson of the Context and Flow series: Romans 7:7-25 The Experience of a Jew Before Christ
Romans 7:7-25 has fallen victim to European Christianity. The Romans 7 experience is NOT the experience of anyone today. The “Romans 7 Experience” is the experience of the Jew under the law BEFORE the coming of Messiah.
How can a Gentile, WHO WAS NEVER UNDER THE LAW, have the Roman 7 experience? He can’t. He has to reinterpret the Bible to accommodate his “woe is me” false humility complex.
If you kick the Jew out of Romans 7, as is common in orthodoxy, you miss the whole point and labor under a false premise. Romans 7 is another place where orthodoxy has conspired to replace the Jew with the Gentile.