Saturday, February 12, 2011

Interesting tidbit - 9 (Romans 15:25-26)

Q:  During Paul's last visit to Jerusalem, he stood before Governor Felix and said, "I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings." This is the offering (evidently a large amount) that Paul writes of in Romans 15:25-26, "...the poor among the saints in Jerusalem." Then verse 27 says, "Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things."

So the question is this:  How have we shared in their spiritual things?

A:  First of all, we now possess the Word of God which came to us through Israel. Romans 3:1-2 says that the chief advantage of the Jew was that they "...were entrusted with the oracles of God." So now we have the entire Bible: the truths of creation, the history of Israel and mankind through the centuries, the judgments of God, the covenants, the promises, and many prophesies concerning Christ and the things to come.  As Romans 15:4 states: "...whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." The things "written in former days" would include the warnings Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. Verse 11 says, "now these things happened to them for examples, and they are written for our admonition...."  Most assuredly, "all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness..." (2 Tim 3:16). For wisdom, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, we read Proverbs. For examples of worship, prayer and praise, we read the Psalms. For a knowledge of prophecy, we have all the prophets, including the Lord Jesus who prophesied of the judgments to come and the future Kingdom.  In the four gospels we find the doctrines of the virgin birth, His deity, His ministry on earth, His suffering, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His future Kingdom.  And Paul's epistles, which are addressed to Gentile believers, contain the revelations concerning the truths that God has especially for us today.  It is there that we look for knowledge of our salvation by grace, our position in Christ, our spiritual life, and our destiny.

Secondly, we now have the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant, namely salvation through His blood.  Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 26:28 saying, "this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." However, the great truths of the New Covenant were not fully revealed until the Book of Hebrews was written. The author of Hebrews (most likely Paul) wrote to the Jewish Christians who knew all the ordinances and prophecies of the Old Testament as Paul did. The New Covenant shows that all the types, offerings and sacrifices, priesthood and ordinances of the Law are fulfilled in Christ.

But wasn't the New Covenant made "with the house of Israel "(Jer 31:31-34) rather than with the Church of our day? Well yes, but with Israel's rejection of Christ and her temporary blindness (Acts 28:28; Rom 11:11; Eph 2:12-13), the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant are now given by grace to those who do receive Christ.  The New Covenant's complete fulfillment is still in the future (Rom 11:25-27), but today we are partakers of this "so great a salvation" mentioned in Hebrews 2:3. 

Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to when he said he was a minister of the New Covenant (2 Cor 3:4-6).

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