Spiritual Goals: Faith, Hope, Love
Open your Bibles with me to Romans, chapter 15. This section we're in from verse 7 down to verse 13 is really driving toward that final verse, verse 13. Paul is looking at these spiritual goals which is really stated in the form of a benediction at the end of this section which and closes out the main body of Romans. Then we go into the conclusion and there will be a number of key things we learn in the last part of chapter 15 as well as into chapter 16. I'm looking forward to getting into chapter 16, even though we tend to reach chapters like that and see a lot of names and greeting to various people that we don't know who they are. We'll get a chance to find out who they are and why God the Holy Spirit has preserved this information for us down through the centuries. This should be a good study.
When we wrap up with Romans in the next five or six weeks, probably before we go to Israel, we'll start a new study on Thursday nights which will be in 1 and 2 Samuel. I taught this last about thirty years ago. It's one of those that I'm glad doesn't surface anymore. Everyone has those. I've always enjoyed 1 Samuel. There are a lot of important applications, especially relevant to today because like today, it was a world of chaos. It was a world of cultural collapse, a world dominated by cultural relativism. It begins in the period of the judges when everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes, which is an applicable commentary for our culture today. It is a tremendous book. Their solution is a political solution but it's a wrong political solution and that's a dire warning for most of us. There's a lot of very good stuff there as well as a lot of good personal principles for application.
Romans 15:7-13 says, "Therefore receive one another just as Christ also has received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: 'For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.' And again he says: 'Rejoice O Gentiles, with His people!' And again, 'Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him all you peoples!' And again, Isaiah says: 'There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.' Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
There are a couple of things we ought to pay attention to just in terms of a fly-over in this section. One of the most important things you can develop as a skill in your Christian life is to study the Bible on your own. Now that doesn't mean you're going to drill down like a pastor's going to drill down or maybe even as much as a Sunday school teacher is going to be able to drill down. But you can apply these principles as you're going about your reading of Scripture, which everyone should be doing on a daily basis.
You ought to pick out 3 to 5 chapters to read every day. It doesn't take that long. If you spend about 15 minutes a day reading through the Bible then you can read through the Bible in a year without any trouble. As you do that, questions are going to come up. Now there are some questions that you say, "Well, I'm just really confused about that." That's great. We all are that way. Every time I read through a book of the Bible, I'll circle things and put a question mark next to it so that next time I come back and have time to study it, I'll spend some time drilling down. I just pass over, set it aside, and keep reading.
One of the reason we read is just for content, just for information, just to know the scope of the Bible and just to know who's who, what's what, and where's where and to understand those things. It's also helpful if you have a study Bible to look at the maps in the back, especially if you're reading the Old Testament. It's good to stop and look and follow the progression of events. As you read you ought to pay attention to key words and to certain things that are said and to certain structural things.
One of the things that we note in the structure of this particular paragraph would be what? What sort of stands out? Well, one of the first things you should notice is that there are four quotations from the Old Testament. Any time we see a quote from the Old Testament that ought to raise our attention just a little and make us ask how the writer of the New Testament is using that. What's going on here? Is this a fulfillment of prophecy?
We've gone through those four different uses in detail of how the Old Testament is used in the New Testament. Sometimes it's a direct prophecy, remember? You have passages like Micah 5:2 that predict the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. That passage is directly quoted by the religious leaders that Herod consults when the Magi, the wise men, came to Herod asking where the King of the Jews was born. Herod called his advisors, his religious leaders, and asked what the Scripture said and they quote Micah 5:2. That's a direct prophecy.
Then you have other times when the New Testament quotes the Old Testament and it's a little more obscure. For example, you have passages like Isaiah 11:1 that's quoted also in Matthew 2. It quotes the sentence, "Out of Egypt I called my son." When you dig down a little bit you realize that the passage is not talking about prophecy at all. It was simply the statement that described a historical event that Israel had come out of Egypt. There is a little more to it than that as we saw the last time we studied that and there is a prediction in the visions that are given by Balaam in Numbers 23 and 24 that connect that verbiage specifically to the Messiah. Just as Israel came out of Egypt in the second vision there of Balaam, so the Messiah, the king mentioned in the third vision would also come out of Egypt. When Matthew uses Hosea 11:1 he's not just pulling a phrase out of the Old Testament somewhere. He's using a phrase and a specific issue that is identified by Old Testament writers as a type, as an example, of something that would apply to the Messiah. So that is the second use we look at.
The third use we looked at is that sometimes there's a parallel, certain similarities between an Old Testament event or prophecy or statement even, and this is picked up by a writer of the New Testament and he's simply applying the principle. Usually there's only one point of commonality between the Old Testament verse in its original context and the way it's used in the Old Testament. We call that an application.
Then there's a fourth use where sometimes the writer says that this is what the Old Testament said and it sort of summarizes something in one sentence that's said in the Old Testament in various different ways. It's not a specific sentence. It's sort of a summary. So if you remember that, then when you look at this you ought to think, "Oh, let me go back and read these in their original context and understand what is being said in the original context to the original audience and then I can see why Paul is quoting these." So we look at that and we see there's a progression there.
If you just stop and look at Romans 15:9 -12 there is one word that is common to all of those verses. You ought to be able to look at that and pick it out. It's the word Gentiles. That's why Paul is going back and quoting from those verses. He's keying in on that word Gentiles. Then a third thing we ought to observe right away that is fairly obvious is that when he comes to the conclusion of this and builds to his final benediction in Romans 15:13 it plays off the last phrase in Romans 15:12. This gives us a key to really understanding the major doctrine he's trying to communicate in this last section.
He closes with that quote from Isaiah, "In Him the Gentiles shall hope." Our hope is in Christ. Then if you look at Romans 15:13 we see that the word "hope" is used two more times. "The God of hope" in the first line. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of God the Holy Spirit." This is what we emphasize when we go through a passage and ask what the passage says, what the writer of Scripture is trying to communicate to us. You don't just go into the Bible and read into the Bible things you would like to see there. You don't just sort of cherry pick key things that are there but we want to read things that are there in context and understand the background and the structure that is there so we can actually dig into the mind and thinking of the Apostle Paul writing this under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit.
As we looked at this last time and spent a lot of time in Romans 15:7, we see that Paul draws a conclusion, "Therefore receive one another just as Christ also received us." We are commanded to accept in terms of fellowship which is what PROSLAMBANO means. Christ is to be the pattern. He is the one who gives us the pattern of grace and understanding of what genuine love is all about. Then I pointed out that we're to receive one another just as Christ received us to the glory of God.
That phrase "glory of God" actually drew us back to the last two verses in the previous paragraph which talked about the fact in verse 6 that we were to "with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ." The emphasis there was on unity in the church and understanding of this whole concept so let me just summarize a couple of things of what the Bible teaches about unity among the body of Christ.
It's sad there's so much division. I went through a little review last week of the history of how since the Protestant Reformation there have been numerous splits and schisms and the rise of different denominations. Sometimes there was the rise of certain denominations simply because coming out of the Protestant Reformation some of these groups had a state church orientation back in the old country. You had Swedish Lutherans, Norwegian Lutherans, Danish Lutherans, German Lutherans, and Swiss Lutherans. When they came to the United States, they maintained those sorts of historic alliances so they didn't really unite together very much. That's one reason you have some of those divisions.
Then another reason we saw in the United States was because there was a rise of heresy at times and disagreement over doctrine. One such scenario, especially in the 19th century, was what was called the fundamentalist/modernist controversy. So we have to understand this whole concept of unity. When we look at the history what we see is that reaction set in among conservative Bible-believing Christians in the early part of the 20th century where they cast great suspicion upon anything that was associated with denominationalism.
As a result you see some people who operate on fear and they think that any time a Christian from one church does anything with a believer with another church that that smacks of denominationalism. They don't understand unity and that has nothing to do with denominationalism or ecumenicalism. If two Christians go to different churches and they are supportive of something like Camp Arete and Chafer Seminary and Dallas Seminary or different missionaries, then these are very positive things and believers should be cooperating there.
We stand in terms of our position in Christ in unity. The first point is that the basis for Christian unity is the baptism by God the Holy Spirit who has entered all of us at the point of salvation into union with Christ. We have an organic, supernatural unity as members of the body of Christ. So this is the established reality in terms of our ultimate position in Christ.
The problem is that we have sin natures and we don't understand Scripture correctly so we get crossways with each other. We all think that our understanding is right and yours isn't. We get into arrogance and this creates division. The reality is that some Christians, due to carnality, create and cause divisions. We see a couple of passages that reference this. For example, in Romans 16:17 which is going to be coming up in the very next chapter where Paul says, "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them."
Even in the early church there were people who created schisms in churches. They caused problems in churches. Now that may surprise a lot of Christians because I've heard this said my whole life, "Wouldn't it be nice to go back and just be simple like the early church?" My response is, "No." They didn't really understand the Scripture very well. They had just as many problems as we do today because the sin nature is the same. As a result of that, we have a much better understanding of Scripture today than they did in the early church.
Now I'm not saying we have a better understanding than the apostles but we had a better understanding than the average believer. They didn't have a completed canon of Scripture. They didn't really understand concepts like the Trinity and the hypostatic union. They understood them in a sort of elementary, primitive way, sort of like a three-year old looks at his parents and says he loves them. He has a very elementary, childish understanding of love but he doesn't have a mature understanding of love. It wasn't until you get into the third or fourth century that you had vocabulary such as Trinity, hypostatic union and terms like that. That would have helped them comprehend those kinds of doctrines. The early church was a mess. It was not some kind of ideal situation and there were a lot of divisions so Paul says that they need to pay attention to who the troublemakers are in the congregation. Who the people are that go off on wild goose chases, who the people are who don't pay attention to the leadership of the pastor and the leaders of the church and go their own way.
I've been in congregations in the past that you get someone, who as a result of reading some book or studying something, gets into some strange notion about prophecy or some sort of strange thing about the person and work of Christ or all of a sudden they get extremely Calvinistic or extremely Armenian. They get messed up on eternal security or they get messed up on the gospel. There's a lot of different things that happen. The next thing you know they want to teach Sunday school and they're teaching their brand new understanding of the Word to someone else.
You have to understand that in a local church like this there are always going to be some people in the congregation, some people who teach in Sunday school, and who are leaders who may not agree one hundred percent with what the pastor teaches. That may be for a number of reasons and usually it's because they haven't had enough time to really study and understand the issues like the pastor has. That's fine. I've been in churches and I've been on staff in churches where I didn't agree one hundred percent with the pastor. In fact, I'd be surprised if there's anyone in this congregation who agrees one hundred percent with me. That's just the reality of life. Gene is raising his hand back there. Are you raising your hand, Gene, because you agree or because you don't agree or because you're the troublemaker? Both, okay. We know Gene. He's the troublemaker. (laughs)
That's the reality. What we do we have a set body of teaching that's handed down, that's agreed to by the leadership of the church and the leadership of the pastor then everyone follows that. That's how you keep things in order and you do things in an orderly manner. I've been in congregations where I didn't agree one hundred percent with what the pastor did and you keep your mouth shut and you go along with it. I did my pastoral internship in a southern Baptist church in Irving, Texas where the pastor didn't even believe in the infallibility and the inerrancy of Scripture. I had a good lesson in humility and authority orientation. That's what that's all about. You don't ago around telling everyone that you disagree with the pastor and he doesn't know what he's talking about. That would create divisions and offenses and so Paul says to pay attention to those people because they're nothing but troublemakers and they can really create trauma in a congregation.
In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul says, "Now I plead with your brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing." In other words that you all be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you. Now this isn't talking about the ultimate reality of one faith that Paul talked about in Ephesians 4 which is a positional reality in terms of our union in Christ. This is talking about an experiential reality. Quit focusing on non-essentials and things that create controversy and focus on unity. But it's not unity at the expense of doctrine. That's ecumenicalism. It says that if we're going to disagree on something, let's just get rid of that and water everything down until we get to the point we can agree on everything which ends up with not really believing in anything. That's ecumenicalism.
Paul pled with the Corinthians who were much divided. They had all kinds of factions and all kinds of problems as we'll see in the next couple of verses. Paul continues, "Be perfectly joined together in the same mind and same judgment." That has to do with submission to the authority of God and being in agreement on the basis of the Word of God. We'll see it come up again in Philippians 2 in just a second.
Now divisiveness and schisms are always a manifestation of carnality. These words that are translated division and strife and heresy are words that show up in Galatians 5:18-20 that talk about the works of the flesh, of the sin nature. That's always present in passages that describe people that are living on the basis of their sin nature. Arrogance and self-absorption are always going to produce this kind of divisiveness. You can watch it in people. There are some people in some churches that won't associate with other believers. They won't associate with other churches. They won't go and do anything with anyone else.
As you know from observing me that I will join with other believers to engage in certain things we have in common. There are certain core beliefs that we must hold in common as believers. One thing in this United States has to do with our understanding of the First Amendment. I can join with anyone from Roman Catholics to Greek Orthodox to charismatics if the issue is defending the freedom that we have to proclaim the Word of God however we understand it. That is under attack in this country. There are some Christians who won't join forces with any other Christian to defend their very liberties in terms of the First Amendments. They won't join with them because this person might be a five-point Calvinist and I might be a four-point Calvinist and since they don't agree on that they can't agree on anything. So they're basically shooting themselves in the foot out of their own arrogance.
This kind of thing had a historical manifestation in the period known as the Jewish Revolt between AD 66 and 70. It was the same kind of arrogance that produced that same kind of divisiveness among the Jews. They were split into numerous minor groups, all kinds of different revolutionary groups and zealot groups according to accounts from Josephus, who was a Jewish general who had been defeated by the Romans. He had surrendered to the Romans and wrote a history much later on of the Jewish revolts. According to his history which is the only account we have of the Jewish revolt in 66-70, during the final assault on Jerusalem by the Romans, these Jewish groups were not only fighting the Romans but they were killing each other at the same time. They were so antagonistic to each other because they didn't agree on every minor point that they were fighting each other and that kind of arrogance and that kind of divisiveness just leads to self -defeat. We see a lot of that in the church today.
This kind of thing was manifested in the early church in Corinth. Paul drills down on this issue why there are these problems in 1 Corinthians 11. One thing we have to understand is that we always have some churches, some pastors, and some people who think that their church is the only church with truth. Their pastor is never going to go to associate with any other pastors because he's better than everyone else. You have different kinds of Christians who think they're superior and different denominations who think they're superior. This is all just a sign of arrogance and it shows extremely poor spiritual health.
Sometimes Paul says divisiveness is a good thing. It's a sign of health because if you have someone who comes into your congregation and they're teaching erroneous doctrines then you need to identify them as a troublemaker, someone who's causing division and you need to be able to exclude them. The whole process needs to be done with humility with a goal of restoring the person and helping them to understand what the Scripture says and what the issues are. It should not be done from a hostile viewpoint in the sense you're just trying to drive the person out because suddenly they're teaching something that's wrong. The point should always be restoration and an attempt to achieve peace and unity.
I Corinthians 11:18-19 says, "For first of all when you come together as a church, I hear there are divisions among you and in part I believe it…" There were all kinds of divisions, all kinds of antagonisms, all kinds of cliques that had developed in the Corinthian church. In verse 19 he says, "For there must be these factions among you." He uses a term in the Greek that indicates this is necessary. You must have this. He was recognizing reality that there are going to be people who come in who get wrong ideas, teach wrong things, and that has to be dealt with in order to show those who are right and on target that they are approved in terms of their teaching.
The word that's usually translated divisions is SCHISME which is where we get our English word schism referring to someone who creates divisions. The word translated factions is HAIRESIS which means a sect or a faction. It came to mean heresies as it's brought over into English. The original Greek word does not really have the connotation we have to heresy. Then that last noun for approval is DOKIMOS. The focus there is on approval, showing the value of something. So in the midst of this kind of controversy as you drill down into Scripture, study what the Word says, and come to understand truth, you might have to exclude someone who's causing a problem. It will improve the quality of the congregation in terms of their understanding of the Word of God. It's a difficult and tough circumstance and situation.
Now the passage we looked at last time related to Ephesians 4:1-5 says that unity is on the basis of gentleness, lowliness, longsuffering, and humility which is indicated by these particular words. I pointed out last time that these particular words are brought together in Colossians 3:12, "As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on [experiential sanctification] tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and long suffering." Those are the same words that we find here. We are to walk worthy of the calling with which we are called with all lowliness which I would translate with humility and meekness if we properly understand that meekness if really more related to authority orientation. It's not the idea we often think of as someone who's just a wimp, just sort of a pushover.
A meek person is someone who understands who he is, has a solid view of himself in terms of his position and relation to God, and his submission to the authority of God. Moses was called the meekest man in the Old Testament. He understood the authority of God and he was subordinate to it but he made sure that he stood his ground as he led the Israelites, two and a half to three million of them, and they were rebellious but he did not yield to them. He was not a soft leader. In Ephesians 4:4-5 as I wrapped up last time we're told that we were called in one hope of our calling, one hope, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. That phrase "one faith" indicates that unity. That's the basis. We don't unify at the expense of doctrine but on the basis of doctrine.
Now let's go into Romans 15:8, "Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision." Paul is shifting from talking about the importance of receiving one another, which is grounded on humility. What undergirds what he says here is his understanding of grace orientation in terms of having unity in the body of Christ. His illustration here is going to be Jesus Christ just as it is in Philippians 2. He says, "Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm the promises made to the fathers." That verse starts off with GAR, which indicates he's explaining what he's just said.
Verse 8 needs to be understood as an explanation and a further development of why it's important to receive one another. He says that part of this explanation is to understand that Christ became a servant to the circumcision, which refers to the Jews and Christ in the first Advent. We have to understand something about the terminology that's used here. Christ is referred to as a servant. This is the noun form of DIAKANOS where we get our English word deacon. It's not saying that Jesus became a deacon. It's saying that Jesus became a servant, which is the ultimate meaning of that Greek word. It's someone who became a servant, someone who ministers or helps someone else.
Paul says that Jesus Christ became a servant at the first Advent when Jesus entered into human history. He's the eternal second person of the Trinity. He's fully God. He has all the attributes of God. He's due all the honor and respect for God. He is the eternal creator of the universe and as Colossians 1:16-17 tells us He holds together the entire universe. That didn't change when he entered into humanity and he was a baby lying in a manager. In His deity He was still holding everything together. He came for a purpose which was to become a servant. The verb translated become is a word that means to become something you weren't before. So He's entering into human history as a human, something He wasn't before, that is He's adding humanity to His deity. He's coming for the purpose of being a servant to Israel.
The focus here is on Israel and God's covenant with Israel. The fact that Paul calls them the circumcision takes us back to the Abrahamic Covenant. In Genesis 12:1-3 we have a foreshadowing and a summary of what will become the key elements in God's promise to Abraham. God made an eternal covenant with Abraham described in Genesis 15 and Genesis 17 where God said He would make Abraham's name great. He would give him descendants that are more numerous than the star in the sky and the sand of the seashore. God was going to bless him and those who blessed Abraham's descendants, God would also bless and those who cursed them, God would also curse.
God promised to give them land that was bounded by specific real estate points in the Middle East by the Mediterranean, by the brook of Egypt called the Wadi Al-Hariz which is down in the Sinai. [There are a lot of issues related to this. In Genesis 15:18 God promised Abraham from the river of Egypt and there's a lot of debate over that. The word in the Hebrew that's translated river there is never used anywhere else in the Scripture to describe the Nile. The Nile is always described by another Hebrew word nahor and in about five other passages in the Old Testament concerning the southern border including the prophetic passage in Ezekiel that describes the boundaries in the Millennial Kingdom which says that the southern boundary is the brook, the nachal, not the word for river.] God gave this specific real estate from the Euphrates to the Wadi Al-Hariz, from the Mediterranean over again to the Euphrates.
This was a specific piece of real estate and when God gave this covenant to Abraham He said the sign of this covenant is circumcision. So when we read this emphasis on circumcision what ought to come to our thinking is that this is a reference to the Abrahamic covenant and to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So He's coming as a servant to Israel "for the truth of God to confirm the promises made to the fathers." Those promises included the fact that there would be a provision of salvation.
This word servant in the verb form is picked up in Mark 10:44-45. The verb here is DIAKONOS. If you serve someone [a verb] then you're a servant [the noun form.] Mark wrote of the Lord Jesus Christ when there was some controversy over who would be the greatest apostle in the kingdom and Jesus responded by saying, "Whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all." He's making a point that the path to greatness is through humility. He illustrates it with Himself. He says, "For even the Son of Man [a title for the Messiah used by Jesus] did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." So Jesus Christ came to serve. He became a servant to the circumcision.
This passage summarizes some of the concepts we find in a well-known passage in the New Testament, Philippians 2:5-8. This is a passage talking about humility. Remember the context of Romans 15:7 is talking about humility and receiving one another and not operating on arrogance. The church at Philippi had the same problem with arrogance that most churches do and in verses 1-4 he's talking about what we have in common in Christ. In Philippians 2:5-6 he says, "Therefore, let this mind [this mental attitude] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Who being in the form of God…" We're all supposed to have the same mental attitude of humility. Paul uses the Greek word MORPHE for form which indicates the essence of God. He is in that form and in Greek terminology the word MORPHE referred to that which were the intrinsic attributes that made something what it was.
We would talk about what makes a chair a chair is that it has "chairness". What makes God God is that it has something called , the attributes of . So by making the statement this way Paul is saying that Jesus was in the form or the essence of God, meaning He had full . But he didn't consider it something to grasped after to be equal with God. Now that takes us back to what? What should we be thinking of? Who grasped after ? Who wanted to be like God? Well, that takes us back to Genesis 2. The serpent came and told them that the reason God didn't want them to eat that wonderful looking piece of fruit is that if you do you'll be just like Him. Eve reached out and grabbed that apple. She wanted to be just like God. She didn't have but she wanted to have . The contrast is that Jesus had but He didn't think it was something he needed to grasp after or hold on to in order to assert His equality with God.
Philippians 2:7, "But He made Himself of no reputation…" The point that Paul is making here is that Jesus is going to disguise Himself, limit the outward expression of His divine attributes and He's going to clothe Himself in humanity. He's going to a true human being. He's going enter into mortal flesh. Sometimes you think, "Robby, why are you just emphasizing this again and again?" Let me give you a little example and I'm not going to name any names.
There is a young man who is an officer in the Air Force who grew up in a doctrinal church. You would know the pastor and you would know the church. He should have been pretty squared away. As he's been in the Air Force he's gone around to some different churches in some different cities. He has been very divisive because he doesn't hold to an accurate, biblical view of kenosis. In fact he holds to a view that in the early church they called Docetism which comes from a Greek word DOKEO which means something appears to be something. It really isn't but it looks like it. Docetism was the view that Jesus really didn't become a full human being, that Jesus only appeared to be a man and appeared to be in flesh.
This guy has insinuated himself into several churches. He's actually been at this church at Chafer Conferences three or four times. He's insinuated himself into two or three different churches and caused great divisions. Then he siphons off all the people who are the heavy donors in a church. He manages to get into a congregation and just like Satan he looks good. He looks like a nice guy. He's very enthusiastic. He wants to help the pastor. I got a call from a pastor just last week who called me up and asked if I knew this guy. He had shown up in that pastor's church and he made himself useful to the pastor. Then the next thing the pastor knows, he's in trouble. Fortunately, this pastor who called me said he'd done some research and talked to other pastors where he'd caused trouble. This man is one of those troublemakers I was just talking about who breach the unity of the church by teaching false doctrine.
What Philippians 2:7 is saying is that Jesus added to His deity the form of a bondservant and He made Himself of no reputation. The Greek word here is KENOSIS and this is a big issue in theology. Basically what happens is that Jesus is fully divine from eternity past. When He enters into human history through the virgin conception and virgin birth He adds to His deity true humanity so that He has two natures. One is true deity and one is true humanity and He's now one person with two natures. He doesn't relinquish His deity. Some people have stated it that way by saying He gives up His deity. He doesn't give it up. He changes the water into wine. He stills the storm. He does numerous other miracles to indicate He's still truly God.
What He's doing is He's not accessing His deity to solve the problems of His humanity. He's living His life in the incarnation as a human being but there are going to be times when, as it were, reaches through the firewall between His humanity and His deity and He will use some of His divine attributes, His omnipotence or His omniscience, in order to make the point and teach that He is fully God. But He's not using His omnipotence to solve the problems of His humanity because He's showing that you and I can live the Christian life on the same basis He does, through the Word of God and the Spirit of God.
What point is understanding Jesus' temptation if He's just handling temptation by His deity. What encouragement is that for us? We can't do that. We can't follow that example. If His example of humility is based on His divine attributes well, we're all sunk. We can't do that. No, the point is that He is exhibiting these characteristics and solving His problems by relying on God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God just as we should. But there are other situations and circumstances in His life where He is asserting Who He is as the promised and prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament and He's going to demonstrate that through these other miracles that are accessing His deity.
It's not that He gives up His deity but that He adds humanity. In Philippians 2:8 we read, "And He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death." Now that death wasn't a pleasant death. It was miserable. It was painful. The language that we see in the gospels related to what Jesus went through is graphic. The night before He went to the cross when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane He is under such physical and emotional distress that He sweated blood. This is a reality. It's a medical condition that is known that when people under certain circumstances and pressure, blood will be forced through the capillaries in their skin. Jesus is going through this tremendous emotional distress.
I don't know if you've ever been in a situation where you've had to go through a lot of emotional distress. I've gone through that at times and usually I don't respond very well in terms of my dependence upon God and letting my sin nature take over. Jesus never lets the emotional pressure that He's under, facing the misery and knowing all the horrors that He will have to endure in His humanity the next day, control His reactions. He resists that and He trusts in God the Father. This is what Jesus is talking about when He says in the garden in His prayer, "Nevertheless not My will but Your will be done." He's completely submissive to the will of the Father in His humanity.
It says Jesus humbled Himself. What is humility here? He humbles Himself by being obedient to the authority over Him. That's what real humility is. You boil it all down and humility isn't someone who's self-effacing. It's not someone who's mild and unassertive. Humility is someone who is oriented to the proper authorities over Him and is obedient to them. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross.
There's nothing more miserable than that. You really want to get a sense of that then maybe you ought to Google some of these videos that are out on the internet that are related to ISIS's crucifixion. I don't think I want to watch that but if you want to get an understanding of how horrid crucifixion was, it was one of the worst forms of torture and execution ever devised by the human mind. It was designed to keep a person alive as long as possible and to promote as much pain and torture as possible, during that time they were on the cross.
This is what Jesus did. He became a servant to the circumcision. PERITOME is the Greek word for circumcision, indicating that He specifically focused on His mission to the Jews as the Messiah. He is going to confirm through His ministry, which is what we've been studying in Matthew, that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and promises related to providing an eternal solution to sin from the Old Testament.
In Galatians 3:16, Paul talks about this as he quotes from the Old Testament, "Now to Abraham and his seed…" In the Old Testament in Hebrew the word seed is what's called a collective singular. The word seed can refer to one or it can refer to many. So the Apostle Paul is playing off the singular sense of the word in its use and that it was one seed, not to many seeds plural, but to one which is Messiah. So he is saying Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and promises that were given and that Paul's ministry was also to the Jews. He is talking about that when he says that Jesus became a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God to confirm His promises made to the Father. And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.
Here he shifts to talking about the Gentiles and who the Gentiles are. This is another interesting and important little word to focus on here. He's saying that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy as it is written. The word that is translated Gentile here is the Greek word ETHNOS. The Greek word ETHNOS according to the Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich lexicon of the Greek language, gives the first meaning of ETHNOS as a body of persons united by kinship, culture, or common traditions. It's also translated nations and people. Most often, though, it is just translated Gentiles, as opposed to Jews meaning anyone who is non-Jewish.
Here in the NKJV we have the statement that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy. It's very clear from the context here that we're talking about Jews as God's covenant people and Gentiles. What's interesting is He brings out this quote from Psalm 18:49 and it's identical to one in 2 Samuel 22. As we go through Samuel I'm going to bring in all the different Psalms that we will cover in their historical context. Not all psalms that David wrote are identified and linked to a specific situation but there are many that are so we'll look at those within their historical context.
Psalm 18 is a psalm that written near the end of David's life. In his conclusion he says, "For this reason I will confess EXHOMOLOGEO, an intensified form of HOMOLOGEO and means praise among the nations. If we translated that Gentiles it would give a totally and erroneous impression of what that verse is talking about. He's talking about the Gentiles as opposed to the Jews.
In 2 Samuel 22:50 and Psalm 18:49 we see a conclusion which we see in Romans 15. Psalm 18 is just a fantastic psalm and one of my favorite psalms. It begins with a praise to God where the psalmist says, "I will love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock." Here he uses the Hebrew word sehlah. "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. My God, my strength, in Whom I will trust. My shield and the horn of my salvation. My stronghold…" This refers to a high and elevated place that becomes a refuge in the heights. That's not in the Heights in Houston. It refers to high places. Houstonians need to understand that distinction. You can't go get refuge in the Heights anymore.
Psalm 18:3, "I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised. So shall I be saved from my enemies." This is one of my favorite verses and it emphasizes seven different metaphors describing God as the One who has protected us. As we think about this psalm, we need to understand that it's a praise psalm, a song of thanksgiving. It's a great psalm if you want to write out a prayer sometime related to how God has delivered you. This is a lengthy pouring out of David's soul in gratitude to Yahweh for how God has delivered him throughout his life.
It's written near the end of David's life, not long before he dies. In it he portrays God in various forms, as a rock, as a fortress, as deliverer, as a bulwark, a shield, a horn of salvation, and as a stronghold. As we look at that the first word rock, which is sehlah indicates being hidden in the cleft of the rock, hiding up in a ridge in the back of a crack where the storms or the arrows, nothing can reach you. You're in protection.
Then he uses the term "my fortress". This is the Hebrew word malsud. This is where the fortress gets its name at Masada. God is our deliverer. He rescues us from times of difficulty. The writer goes on to say, My God, my strength. It's a different word used here. This word indicates something of a fortress or a bulwark, a fortification to hide in. It's a synonym for malsud. "My strength in Whom I will trust." God is the only one who can truly protect us in the midst of the horrors of life. He is our stronghold. He is our shield. "He's the horn of My salvation." An animal's horn was thought to be the place of their strength and their power so this metaphor indicates power and strength so God is the power and source of our salvation. Then He is our stronghold, a refuge in the heights.
Paul is going to come to the end of this passage in Romans and we'll come back to that next time where he concludes this great psalm You ought to read Psalm 18 between now and next week. Great promises there. Great verses to memorize. The point that Paul is going to be getting at here is that at the end David calls upon the Gentiles also to praise God. He envisions a time in the future when the Jews and the Gentiles will together glorify God so that's important to understand that term. We'll get there next time.