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Friday, December 7, 2012

"Promise-Plan of God" In Romans

How did the Christian church originate in Rome? The most popular answer is based on Acts 2.  On the Day of Pentecost, Luke records that people traveled from all over Asia Minor to meet in Jerusalem:
"Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." (Acts 2:5-11)
The "visitors from Rome" were Jews coming to Jerusalem for the Pentecost festival, which was "a sacred festival of the Jews observed 50 days after the Passover." Luke later records after the preaching of Peter, the Holy Spirit was poured out on these visitors and some three thousand souls were saved (Acts 2:41). Within these three thousand souls were now Jewish Christians who must of journeyed back to Rome and started Jewish Christian groups where they would repeat the preaching of Peter about "the promise-plan
of God" they learned in Jerusalem:
"Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." (Acts 2:33) 
"For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:39)
It is very possible this is why Paul decided to begin Romans with a theological affirmation of the promise-plan of God throughout the Scriptures:
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 1:1-4)
I have been teaching on Romans for several months for the The Group Bible study at church. Recently, I read about the Promise-Plan of God in Romans. Throughout Paul's letters he references the "promise-plan of God" as the covenant given to Abraham fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Rom. 4:1-3, 9, 12-13, 16; 9:7; 11:1). This promise is from the seed of Abraham (cf. Gen. 12), and thus all who are of that seed are blessed. Jesus Christ is the seed of Abraham, and all those in Christ are blessed. Therefore, Paul wants to make sure his gospel is based on the "promise-plan of God" because it is upon that promise is the power of God for salvation to the Jew and the Greek (Note: Paul wanted to make sure that his gospel was not mistaken because the word "gospel" occurs six times in chapter one, Rom. 1:1, 2, 9, 15, 16, 17).

From the beginning of Romans, Paul began teaching his readers the promise-plan of God is based on OT truth, "Which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures" (Rom. 1:2), and seemingly ended his letter affirming that truth, "For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs" (Rom.15:8). Below is four ways the book of Romans reveals the promise-promise plan of God.

The book of Romans reveals to us the gospel as the promise-plan of God in several ways:
1. The gospel as the promised positional righteousness of God (Rom. 1-4)
(This is a result of the covenant and faith of Abraham that is fulfilled in Christ)

2. The gospel as the promised redemption/renewal of God (Rom. 5-8)
(This is a result of the work of righteousness fulfilled in the new Adam)

3. The gospel as the promised reconciliation of God (Rom. 9-11)
(This is a result of the unifying faith of Jews and Gentiles in message from the beginning)

4. The gospel as the promised practical righteousness of God (Rom. 12-16)

(This is the result of the transformed life by the power of the Holy Spirit)

This is awesome! The gospel is "the promise," and in no other book is "the promise" so magnificently outlined. Paul wanted the gospel to be understood correctly. He explains the gospel as the promised positional righteousness, redemption/renewal, reconciliation, an practical righteousness. The Roman believers did not seem to understand the implications of the gospel. Paul dug down deep and taught these believers as if he was there in a Roman synagogue, and in doing so, he explained how "the promise" was fulfilled in Christ and has brought a new ethical, moral, theological, and practical lifestyle that must correspond to that message. Therefore, I think the "Promise-Plan of God in Romans" can be understood as an in depth scriptural analysis of "the promise" fulfilled through Jesus Christ with past-present-future soteriological and ecclesiological effects. The heart of the promise is saving and changing societal lives for the glory of God.

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