The Book of Romans centers around the question of whether faith is enough on its own? A key element to Paul’s discussion is the issue of salvation. In this episode, we examine, both in Romans and other books, the many different kinds of salvation the Bible suggests. Perhaps the major flaw in Paul’s detractors is a misunderstanding of salvation. In the second half of The Book of Romans, Paul pivots to a focus on how to walk in salvation, in its many forms.
Joey: Alright, Tim, so we’ve talked about this political pamphlet that Paul is writing to address this issue. We’ve talked about the good guys and the bad guys, and we’ve talked about some of the accusations, and Paul’s responses to this. I guess my next question is, is this building to a crescendo? If you think about a story, or maybe this happens in pamphlets too, but there’s kind of this hook, this place where you’re really trying to centralize your argument. Is Paul working up to something like that?
Tim: You know, I think he actually works up to several different crescendos. One of them is here in Chapter 8, which we kinda ended the last session with. He talked about all the negative consequence reasons, not giving yourself over to sin. You can. Right? You can, but God gave you a choice. He’s given you new birth into the family and you can’t lose that. So you can sin, that’s something you can do. You shouldn’t do it, he has argued, because of the negative consequences. But in 8, he starts talking about the positive consequences for obedience. And it’s pretty interesting because he says this is in 8:16. He has just talked about how walking in the Spirit by faith fulfills the law. The whole thing that God gave to the Jews, you can make all that happen through walking by faith in the Spirit. Which answers his Jewish detractors’ whole idea that the law has been thrown out. ‘No, absolutely not. This is actually the way you fulfill it, you lawbreaker. This is how you become a law fulfiller.’ And he says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God.” So if you ever have doubt again like ‘am I really a child of God?’, it’s probable that the reason you had that doubt is that you heard that voice and you wondered where it was coming from. And if you hear that voice, it means you’re a child of God. Right? “You have received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Now you know, there’s nothing you have to cling on to, that’s good enough. And then he says, “And if children, then heirs.” So if you’re a child in a family, you’re going to inherit something. And then he talks about two different kinds of inheritance. The first is heirs of God. So there’s no condition to that. We are heirs of God. God is our inheritance no matter what we do, whether we sin, or we don’t sin. And the context of all of Romans is ‘what choices should we make?’ And no matter what choices you make, God is your inheritance. That’s very comforting, right? And that’s why he says, and I’m skipping ahead here to the end of 8, he says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” These people are bringing accusations against you, these competing authorities, these Jewish guys, they’re criticizing you and trying to get control of you. What they say doesn’t matter. If God is for you, you shouldn’t worry about all these accusations. Satanist accusations, your flesh’s accusations, it doesn’t matter. God is for you. “Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? If the Spirit’s in you, then you’re God’s elect.” Who can bring your charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Let them bring a charge against Jesus because that’s who we are in. “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died and furthermore is also risen, who is at the right hand of God and makes intercession for us.” Go talk to Him. Don’t pay any attention to all this criticism. So if you’re a person who feels condemned, this is for you. If you’ve believed, if you’ve heard the Spirit ever, then you’re in Christ and all those sins have been wiped out. They’re on Him.
They’ve been wiped out with respect to you, because you were born by Christ. All the condemnation, you’re hearing from your flesh, from Satan, from your friends, deflect it. It goes to Jesus. Okay, so that’s heirs of God. And now there’s a conditional one coming. Because we’re just talking about acceptance, but what about approval? “And joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may be glorified together with him.” So now we have this positive thing. If we will suffer the suffering of Christ, we get the same reward that Christ got. Well, that’s kind of mind-boggling. So on the one hand, if I do the things of sin, I get death and slavery and all these things that I was delivered from. Don’t do that. That’s dumb, right? But you get this positive consequence that if you’re willing to suffer the sufferings of Christ–now we’re moving away from what not to do–you get the same reward Christ got. Kaboom, that is amazing. And now he’s talking about it from his own standpoint. He says, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Now, pause for a second, what was Paul’s suffering like? Well, he goes and lists it in 2 Corinthians–beatings, imprisonments, a shipwreck, this constant battling with people like in this book. They never left him alone. He was stoned once and left for dead, probably died and came back, that’s my interpretation. I mean, he was suffering all the time but he says that compared to what’s coming, this is nothing. Now, we would look at his suffering and, ‘wow, I can’t imagine going through all of that.’ And he’s saying nothing compared to what’s coming. Kylie: Yeah, totally worth it.
To suffer as Christ suffered
T: Totally worth it. “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Well in the Roman world, everyone’s a child because they’re born into the family. You become a son when you’re adopted and given property rights. It was a later ceremony that comes along. So what he’s talking about here is to be a son, it is to graduate into this approved category. And how are you approved? You suffer the sufferings of Christ. Well, what is that, Christ? We get that in Philippians 2. He was entitled to stay in Heaven, but the father asked him to step down and He did. He did not claim his entitlement. He gave it up to serve, and to serve other people who would spit on him and reject him. Because it was in their best interest. He was rejected by people for doing for them what was in their best interest. He was tempted to do things his own way, and he lived a life of 100% dependence. And we’ve looked at this in Psalm 8, we did a series on it, “From the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have established strength because of your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.” That’s what Psalm 8 says. Well, that’s what this is. Nursing infants are dependent, and they’re newly arrived, which is the human race compared to the angels. So Jesus became a human and lived a life of 100% dependence. He’s the only human that’s ever lived that could have lived a 100% independent life, but the rest of us couldn’t do it. He could have done it, but he lived a 100% dependent life. He says, “I do nothing apart from what my father tells me to.” He did it as an example, that’s part of the suffering. And then He was rejected because of the life he lived. And Hebrews 12 tells us that he gave that rejection exactly no consideration. He didn’t consider it to be worthy to compare to the approval that he got from his father. Which, Hebrews 12 calls, “the joy set before him.” “The joy set before Him (was to be) sat down at the right hand” because God said, I’m now elevating you, not just as God, he was already God, but as a human over the Earth.
So now we say here, “The whole creation was subjected to futility, the curse, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope. Because the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” So if we suffer as Christ suffered, we’re going to inherit restoring the earth with Him. And nothing is more fun than being with a team of people–especially with your husband or your wife–when you’re in perfect harmony, doing something really meaningful. Well, this is entering into the joy of your Master. The ruler of the Earth is going to take those who suffered his sufferings and who were willing to walk in obedience, and that’s who’s gonna get to do this with him and restore the Earth to the place it was supposed to be. Well, that’s kind of mind-boggling, right? He goes from, ‘don’t do it because it’s negative’ to all of a sudden, ‘boom, you get the same reward that Jesus gets.’ He’s blocking out these detractors, he’s just completely obliterating them.
J: Yeah, absolutely. And this occurs to me as you’re talking through this. On the one hand you’ve got sin which leads to death and destruction and is just a terrible idea, but on the other hand, you have suffering alongside Christ. And I think one of the hangups that we experience is that we want to figure out some other way that doesn’t involve any discomfort, right? And I think that’s why Paul is trying to use such strong language in terms of the benefit. A, it doesn’t compare, that’s first and foremost. But also, life is going to be difficult, you’ve gotta figure out whether that difficulty is going to propel you into further reward or if you’re gonna succumb to it and it’s gonna destroy you.
The third way
T: Well, I think by inference, there is a third way. Because you can get into the family by believing, and then you can avoid all these negative consequences, by just not making overtly bad choices. But then avoid the sufferings of Christ to the extent that you can by just withdrawing from conflict and difficulty and stuff. And that will make a more comfortable life. Paul could have just said, ‘You know, this just isn’t worth it. I’m not going to preach the gospel anymore.’ He actually talks about that in 1 Corinthians 9. He says, “I have three choices. One does not preach the Gospel. And he says, the consequence of that is “woe is me.” Now we already know he’s a believer. But he says, “I stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give account for that.” He’s like, I don’t want anything to do with that. Okay, that was his assessment. And then he said, “but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.” That’s okay. But “for if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward” So he has his own kind of three-part assessment there. Now, we can bring suffering on ourselves through making bad choices, but this isn’t talking about that, right? This is talking about the suffering that comes when you’re willing to make a stand to serve other people. And I’ll just talk about some very practical things, okay? Engaging with other people is messy and it’s much more comfortable to disengage. But when you see, “Okay, this person could benefit from some input here, and they might reject me as a result, but I think it’s worth the chance because they might hear” and you take that chance, you might get rejected. That’s a rejection that you could have avoided by just not saying anything. And that would be an example of the sufferings of Christ. Now, you don’t want to say anything if the probability of them hearing is zero, that’s the hog-dog-log principle from the Sermon on the Mount. That’s the whole splinter-in-the-eye thing. If there is a chance and you can help that person, then it’s worth it.
J: So the first crescendo here is that, not only is this not a bad idea, it’s a very good idea. It is in your best interest.
T: It’s in your best interest. And actually, Paul says in one of the Corinthian letters, I think it’s 1 Corinthians, he says, “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which has not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” And to love Him is to obey His commands. If you obey his commands, you’re going to suffer the sufferings of Christ. He says that the spirit can kind of give you a hint, but you can’t comprehend how great it’s going to be. I can tell you couldn’t understand it.
J: So we’re in chapter 8 right now, that seems like a good place to end his argument. It seems like a good place to close the pamphlet. Where does he go from there?
T: Well, it’s also worth mentioning that in 8 he says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God…” So that’s a pretty amazing statement. If you’re walking this path of doing what God asks you to do, the promise here is that every single circumstance that comes into your life will work for your good. And that’s a tough one to get your mind around because a lot of bad things happen in life. But he goes on to tell you what the good is. He says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” So, everything that comes into our life is an opportunity to be conformed to the image of Christ. Now, I take this to say that everyone’s going to be conformed to the image of Christ. The ones who are willing to have that done now, when it’s done through faith, get this extra special award. And the ones that don’t are going to get conformed at a later time in a different way than Paul says. But that’s a bad idea, don’t do that. That’s the wood, hay and stubble all burned up, and your life’s work is charred, but you still conformed. But the real clear message in the Bible is that that’s a vastly inferior approach.
J: Yeah, you don’t want to wait.
T: Because you just wasted your opportunity. And it uses phrases like “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Like in Matthew 8, he’s talking to some Jews, and he says, “The sons of the kingdom,” which clearly when God says sons of the kingdom, He’s talking about believing Jews that “will have weeping and gnashing of teeth” because they got excluded from the table of honor that’s occupied by Gentiles who were walking in faith. Okay, so if you’re a believer but you don’t walk in faith, you’re not going to get this reward. And you’re going to be mad, gnashing of teeth, and you’re going to be sad, weeping. Probably, I’d say, they’re going to be mad at themselves. Because you could have had this opportunity now that you realize how precious it was. I talk about this all of the time, the angels are watching, and only we can walk by faith, but just in this life.
J: You mentioned a while back, I think at the very beginning of this, the three salvations.
Is that one of the salvations, to be rescued from missing out on what this life has to offer?
Walking by faith
T: I think so. Yeah. I think actually, this whole thing of being saved from the negative consequences and being saved from missing out on the positive consequences is this second salvation or deliverance. It is deliverance from the flesh and deliverance from this inner self that has nothing good dwelling in it. That’s what the daily walk of faith, walking in the resurrection power of Jesus instead of the flesh, that’s what that salvation is. And that’s a daily thing. All you’ve got to do to lose that is just go walk with the flesh for a while and then gain it back, that goes back and forth. The thing we usually call salvation is the original belief of new birth, and that’s given. That’s a gift. So that one’s a gift, you can’t lose it. You can’t lose being born physically, the same thing with being born spiritually. But this other salvation, all you’ve got to do is just walk in the flesh to lose that. It’s there for you to gain back, all you have to do is walk in the spirit, right? And that’s saved from the flesh. We have that power, the question is, are we going to use it? And then the third one is being delivered from the presence of sin. So you’re delivered from the penalty of sin, delivered from the power of sin, and delivered from the presence of sin. And we can actually see that in 13:11. Because now, when he gets to chapter 12, he starts answering the question, “what does this look like?” So what does this look like in everyday life to walk by faith? And he starts describing some examples of what this would look like. He says, “And do this”, he’s talking about walking by the Spirit, “knowing the time, that now is high time to awake out of sleep, for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” Okay, so you’re going along in time from when you first believed. Let’s say that happened 20 years ago, and every year that goes by–year 21, year 22, 23–you’re getting closer to salvation. Well, we would usually think that’s backwards, right? You’re getting further from salvation. But when you first believed is just one kind of salvation. It’s the salvation from the penalty of sin. Every day that goes by, you’re getting closer to your salvation from the presence of sin. Which one are you more enthusiastic about? After you’ve had this new birth, right? It’ll be wonderful to get to the point where we’re not in the presence of sin anymore. Because he’s saying that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, he’s saying, “then put on the Lord and walk properly and stuff.” Because when we’re saved from the presence of sin, we’re going into the judgment. And that’s when rewards are determined for deeds, not our ultimate destiny as his children, that’s set. God is our heir unconditionally. But then the question is, “What did you do with your life? What kind of steward were you?”
J: Right. So the accusation he’s trying to address is, “if it’s not ‘faith and’ then why do obedience and the law matter?” What he’s doing is teasing out the answer to why it’s only faith for the first salvation that we’re talking about, but it’s acting in obedience. This is the benefit of it.
T: Yeah, and actually, 14:10 says what you just said very overtly, “Why do you judge your brother? Why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. What is written as I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. So he starts with these bad guys that they’re judging, and of course not doing what they said. He says “don’t listen to them.” And now he’s into the practical part of the book, 12 and on, like “here’s what walking in the spirit looks like.” And he makes a specific point, “Don’t judge other people. Just wait for the time. You’re concerned somebody’s gonna get away with something? Don’t worry about that. Everybody’s gonna be judged. And it may be that whatever it is you’re fretting about, somebody else’s is going to end up on the cross. You should be happy about that because that means your stuff can end up on the cross too.