Lately, I have been involved in various conversations regarding soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. There is of course the ongoing discussion regarding the moment of salvation and baptism with those who are members of the Church of Christ, then there is discussion with some others regarding the details of 1 Corinthians chapter 6, and debate about “the creation” that is in focus from Romans chapters 1-8. I imagine in months to come, if you’re interested, you may see the fruit of those studies in written articles and public discussions.
REVIEW OF ROMANS 1-2
This morning I began reading in Romans, namely outlining and summarizing chapters 1-2. The Apostle Paul is emphatic that he preaches the “Gospel of Christ”, the “salvation”, the “righteousness of God” that was hidden but highlighted throughout the Old Testament prophets (see, Romans 1:1-2, 16 cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12; Acts 24:14-16; 26:22-23). The Apostle goes on to cite Habakkuk 2:4, “The just shall live by faith” to express how this salvation is received. So naturally my studies took me to the book of Habakkuk.
Habakkuk prophesies to Judah during the 7th century BC condemning the corrupt kingdoms of his time. Habakkuk’s prophecy declares the sure coming of the God’s wrath at the “appointed day”, wherein a remnant will “live by faith”. The Apostle Paul’s use of this citation in Romans demonstrates the coming wrath of God upon those who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and how those in Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile, will be saved – by faith in Him.
Two salvific details were brought in my study that I wanted to share.
GOODNESS OF GOD LEADS TO REPENTANCE
Romans 2:4 declares, “…the goodness of God leads you to repentance”.
The Apostle Paul is making the point that those who have continued to pass hypocritical judgement upon others, doing the very things they condemn others for, are coming under the sure judgement of God. In their judgement they seem to have failed to realize that their hypocrisy reveals their despising the “riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering…”, all of which lead man to repentance. Notice it does not say, ‘lead man to repent’, but rather repentance is a work of God, so that no man may boast.
FAITH NOT COVENANT SIGNS COUNT FOR OBTAINING HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS
Romans 2:26 declares, “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision”.
The Apostle Paul goes on to make the point, citing from Ezekiel 20:27 and Isaiah 52:5, that those under the Law and who had the outward covenant sign of circumcision are not more righteous than the Gentiles who did not have the outward signs. Rather, those Gentiles who lived with a good conscience toward God keeping the righteousness of the Law, despite their lack of an outward covenant sign, were declared righteous, “whose praise is of God, not of men”. Trust and assurance in, giving credit to, being persuaded by the truth of the God of Israel “inwardly” was sufficient for salvation.
In summation, reading through Romans requires being a bit familiar with the prophecies of Habakkuk, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. The Apostle Paul borrows prophetic insight from those prophets to declare the judgement of God that was coming upon the world because of those who “suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness”, and there would be no partiality with God, outward efforts of hypocritical judgement (trying to seem righteousness) and outward works of “circumcision” would not lead one to righteousness. Instead, “But now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ to all and upon all that believe: for there is no difference (outward signs or not) (Romans 3:21-22)”.