Messages from Young Adults

Lesson 11: The Election of Grace

“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1).

Interview already in progress

Roman Times: Welcome back. If you’re just joining us, we’ve caught up with the Apostle Paul during his evangelistic crusade in Corinth. We’re discussing his gripping letter to the Christian church in Rome. Paul, before the break, you mentioned something about ‘secret disciples’. What did you mean by that?

Paul: Well, this is something that I’ve encountered as I’ve been traveling around to different provinces and visiting various congregations. I thought I’d mention it to the church in Rome because the issue seems to be increasingly universal. You see, as I’ve explained, it is faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that will be counted unto us for righteousness. We’ve talked a lot about the limitations of birthright and entitlement – no social cachet or perfect adherence to any law is sufficient. Here’s the curious part, though… I’ve noticed an almost “underground belief”, especially among those who have “something to lose” as far as status or prestige. Like the Jewish authorities who were watching Christ, these people may believe in Him, but they do not confess that belief [1].

Roman Times: Why not?

Paul: Obviously, they were afraid of what their peers – be it the Pharisees or the Jewish elders – would think. This is something that we can all relate to. That pride is deep seeded in our humanity – to believe is one thing, but to let people know about it something entirely different.

Roman Times: Well, why is it so important to confess this belief?

Paul: When we hear something that touches us and reveals itself to be the answer we have been searching for, something “clicks” inside of us, and we believe it in our hearts. “Yes,” we say, “this is true!” In the same way, grasping onto the truth of Christ and “believing” in the heart is the crucial first step. That is where righteousness begins. Now, the belief is put into action and that action is to confess it, to broadcast it, to speak it openly. For the scriptures say, “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” [2]

Here’s how I see it. Belief is not the end of the story. Jesus calls us all to be His followers and His disciples. Keeping silent about your belief in Christ contradicts His mission for all of us. To be secretive about your faith in the righteousness afforded you by Christ will most certainly crowd out your discipleship.

Roman Times: Ok, so confession or being outspoken about belief in Jesus is important. “Crucial”, as you say. You must appreciate that this is not an easy pill to swallow for the majority of us in the church here who are Jews. We are not evangelical to the extent that I think I hear you calling for.

Paul: Absolutely. Times have changed and will continue to change rapidly. The Christian church is growing by leaps and bounds, especially among people who we previously classified as “heathens”. These Gentiles are flocking to this curious new faith. What reason more do we need to “step it up” and be vocal about the good news of righteousness in Christ! For hundreds of years, we have been steeped in one mindset – that of being “God’s Chosen”. While that may still be the case, we cannot rest upon our laurels and rely on tradition to carry us through. It may be uncomfortable, but we have got to get out there and mingle. There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek for the same Lord over all is rich and generous to everyone who calls upon Him. [3] That is the good news that we have to share. I’ve been harping on this theme for a while now – God shows no partiality. We share in sin, we share in glory. Unity between our nation and our Gentile brethren is key to our success as Christ’s body.

Roman Times: There is no doubt that we want the movement to gain traction. But is being open about a belief that is so radical and so against everything that identifies us really wise?

Paul: As I stated before, our salvation comes from God alone. We must call on Him to be saved. Tell me – how then will Greeks, or anyone else for that matter, call on God, in whom they have never believed? And how will they believe in God if they’ve not heard of Him? And how will they hear without the aid of a preacher? And how will those preachers preach, unless they are sent? Those who proclaim God’s word and the salvation of Christ are blessed.[4] They are not ashamed because they know it is the power of God unto the salvation of everyone who believes. Jew, Greek – anyone who believes. We confess our belief for the benefit of others, even if it is unpopular. Isaiah struggled with this. Essentially, faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the word of God.[5] That word, gestating in our hearts, is birthed into words that will lead people to faith.

Roman Times: Well, you’d think with all the evidence and accounts and eye-witness statements, more people, Jews especially, would be spreading the news like crazy! Haven’t they heard the gospel?

Paul: And this is where I’m most concerned. It’s a conundrum, really. Not all have obeyed the gospel. Yes, they’ve heard the gospel. The witness and statements went out all through the earth and the words of the believers went to the ends of the world. You may ask, “But, didn’t Israel know and believe?” I would have to agree with Moses that this is not the case. [6]

Roman Times: Hold that thought. We’re going to take a short break and when we return Paul will explain what went wrong.

1. John 12:42,43

2. Romans 10:11

3. Romans 10:12

4. Romans 10:14,15; Isaiah 52:7

5. Romans 10:17

6. Romans 10:19

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