Monday, August 15, 2022

2022.08.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 2:25–3:4

 Read Romans 2:25–3:4

Questions from the Scripture text: About what does Romans 2:25 begin speaking? When is it profitable? What turns it into uncircumcision? Who might keep the righteous requirements of the law (Romans 2:26)? As what is his uncircumcision counted? What will this physically uncircumcised man fulfill (Romans 2:27)? And whom will he judge? Despite their having what? Why? Who is not a jew (Romans 2:28)? What, ultimately, is not circumcision? Who is a jew (Romans 2:29)? Of what is real circumcision? In Whom? Not in what? From whom do the genuinely circumcised not seek/receive their praise (verse 29)? From Whom do they seek it? What question does Romans 3:1 ask about the outward Jew? About outward circumcision? What is the answer in Romans 3:2? What is the greatest advantage/profit that they had? What did some of them not do (Romans 3:3)? But what doesn’t this unbelief do (verse 3)? Who would be true even if every Jew (and church member) turned out to be a liar (Romans 3:4)? Whom would the Lord be justified in judging?

Who are true Jews, and what is true circumcision? In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the outward signs are only valuable when matched to an inward reality worked by the Holy Spirit. 

Whom signs benefit: believers, Romans 2:25–27. Signs benefit those who come, by way of that sign, to the thing signified. The problem in Romans 2:25 is that no one keeps the law! The one who keeps it is the one who is credited with keeping it perfectly through union with Christ. This is the only one who even makes a beginning of keeping it genuinely in their own behavior.

So the uncircumcised man in Romans 2:26 must be a believer in Christ, and therefore has made a beginning of obedience from the heart. Of course his outward uncircumcision cannot take away the reality of the inward work of God in him! How can letters on a page or a sign upon the flesh compare to that (Romans 2:27)?!

What real Jewishness and circumcision are: inward reality in Christ by the Spirit, Romans 2:28-29. So being an outward Jew doesn’t make someone Jewish. The true Jew was not someone who merely had external membership in visible Israel. The true Jew was one who had the inward reality of what Israel was supposed to profess.

And true circumcision was not the application of the outward sign, but the change that the Holy Spirit makes in the heart. Baptism functions the same way. The effectual baptism is not what the church does with the water, but what Christ does with the Spirit. Without that, the application of the water is worse than meaningless: it testifies against us.

The chief benefit of church membership and sign: the oracles of God, Romans 3:1-2. If the inward reality is the chief thing, then what is the point of either membership (being a jew) or sign (circumcision)? The apostle here asserts that they are very advantageous, and he will give a longer list concerning the Jews in Romans 9:4–5. But here he cuts to the chase: they were entrusted with the sayings of God! The church now holds that glorious place, inheriting not only the Old Testament, but also the apostolic and prophetic writings from Christ, in which He continues and completes the proclamation of His gospel, which is His divine power for salvation. 

The honest reality about church membership and sign: not all believe, Romans 3:3-4. Here is a great warning to us: God is not obligated to save, not even in the church. This should keep us from all presumptuousness. Even if every Jew (not just some) had been lost, God would still be true. Even if every church member (not just some) is lost, God would still be true. He would be perfectly just if He condemned all and saved none. 

If the Lord has placed us in His church and placed His sign upon us, let us not think that this has made us safe or good. For these things only benefit us if His Spirit has made us new and given us faith. Even having the gospel itself only benefits us if we believe the gospel—if we believe in the Christ of the gospel. Only then are we forgiven. Only then are we blessed.

What membership do you have? What sign have you received? How can they do you any good?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You have given us the great blessing of hearing Your gospel, and receiving the signs that belong to Your people. But, if we do not believe Your gospel and receive the inward reality of the outward signs, then we will be those condemned people who bring shame upon Your Name. So, grant Your Spirit’s almighty work upon us, so that we may believe in Jesus Christ and be saved and transformed, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

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