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Romans 11:33-36 by Robert Dean
Who says you need a crystal ball to foretell the future? Listen to this lesson to hear a summary of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Study Group Conference held in Dallas this week with its emphasis on the reality of Bible prophecy. Learn how to access the papers read at the conference. Find out the soaring, triumphant conclusion to Romans, chapters one through eleven, and revisit an overview of what has been taught on justification, sanctification, and the righteousness of God. Thrill to the security of knowing that God with His infinite knowledge and wisdom is in control no matter what dark forces we face in our world today.
Series:Romans (2010)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 16 secs

To Whom Be the Glory Forever
Romans 11:33-36

Before we get started in Romans tonight I want to take just a couple of minutes to talk about the Pre-Trib Rapture Conference that was held in Dallas this past week. West Houston Bible Church and Dean Bible Ministries supplied video equipment and other equipment to help out and we have volunteers to help out with a number of things. We truly play a very important role in what we do to bring about this conference.

There were probably close to four hundred people in attendance this year. Most of the sessions were pretty well crowded. The focus of the schedule this year was on Israel, what the Bible teaches about Israel. I'm just going to review a little bit how the schedule went. The first morning Dr. David Hocking, a pastor in Southern California for many years, spoke. He's a huge mountain of a guy. He probably casts a shadow over Goliath. He's very strong speaker. He spoke on why the modern state of Israel is related to Bible prophecy. He did an excellent job of showing from the Scripture why Jerusalem and why Israel is important. I missed that section because I was just getting over a bad chest cold so I used the time to rest a little and continue to work on my own presentation.

The second speaker, for those who could understand his Yiddish, Russian, Polish, German, Brooklyn, California, and Texan accent, was Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum. He spoke on the prophetic promise of the land of Israel in the Abrahamic covenant. Tommy Ice did an excellent job of organizing these presentations even though he said he really didn't think about coordinating them but they came together in quite a significant order. Arnold started off with the promise of the Land in the Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic covenant promises a specific piece of real estate to Abraham and his descendants. So he went through all of those passages quite exhaustively showing that the Abrahamic Covenant is really the foundation for the land promise in the Old Testament. And that Israel's ownership of the land is given by the One who owns the entire earth, which is God. He has the sovereign right of disposal of property and he has given that land to the descendants to of Abrahamic, Isaac, and Jacob. In the Mosaic Covenant there is a condition and that is that if they are not spiritually obedient then they are going to be kicked out of the land. So the only way to live in God's land is to live in God's land in God's way. Arnold did a great job of substantiating that, as always.

Following lunch Charlie Clough was the third speaker on Monday. He spoke about the prophetic promise of the land in the Land Covenant in Deuteronomy 29 and 30. Now what Charlie did was a little bit different from what a lot of people might expect. There's a debate within contemporary Old Testament scholarship about whether or not there's an actual separate land covenant or Palestine Covenant as it used to be called by older dispensationalists. I usually refer to it as the land covenant or the real estate covenant. Deuteronomy 29 starts off by saying there's another covenant other than the one given at Horeb. Horeb is another name for Sinai so that implies there's a different covenant aside from the Sinai covenant that's given in Deuteronomy 29. A lot of contemporary Old Testament scholars want to argue that the other covenant that is being discussed there in Deuteronomy 29 is sort of Moses revision of the Sinai covenant in his Deuteronomy message. There's some minor differences between what was given on Mount Sinai and what is stated by Moses in Deuteronomy. They're not contradictory. They're complimentary. Among contemporary scholarship they argue that the Deuteronomic covenant is what is being mentioned there in chapter 29. Charlie was taking the view that if we assume that they're right we're going to show that the promise of the land is still embedded profoundly in Deuteronomy. Some of you have listened to Charlie's Deuteronomy series online and you know that he did an excellent job of demonstrating that throughout the entire book of Deuteronomy there is the assumption that Israel has been given the land that God promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in perpetuity. So he did a great job of establishing that.

Then in what I call the sleepers slot, because that's what most of us want to do at 3:15 in the afternoon is sleep, Tommy stuck Randy Price. Anyone who knows Randy knows that he is just detailed-oriented, which doesn't even come close to capturing him. Randy's first book on the Temple was about 750 pages. It's called The Coming Last Day Temple. Dr. John Walvoord with a little tongue-in-cheek said, "No one in all of history has ever written so much about the temple and I doubt if so much will ever be written again." Since then, Randy has written two more books on the Temple. So Randy leaves no molecule of sand unturned. He looks at every detail so his presentation gets a little bogged down. He read it this time. Usually he teaches it more than he reads it but he read it and that kind of was hard for some people to track but he did an excellent job of dealing with the prophetic promise of the land in the New Covenant. See, what this is showing is that every one of those covenants with Israel has a promise of the land. The New Covenant is going to be brought into effect in Israel when they are back in the land and have a Davidic king on the Throne. You can't separate the New Covenant fulfillment from the presence of the Messiah, the Davidic King on the Throne, and Israel being united and back in the land. They're inseparable. He did a great job of that as well.

In the evening we had a banquet. Actually the rubber chicken wasn't so rubbery and so the dinner wasn't too bad. It's been worse. The carrot cake was great. That's my favorite cake as everyone knows and there were people at the table that didn't even touch theirs, so "waste not; want not".  After that we had a musician that Tim LaHaye had known for a number of years. He's actually won a Country Music Association Award for his guitar playing. He'd been featured on a show some of you may remember way back in the later 70s called, "That's Incredible." People did these remarkable stunts and he was billed as the fastest guitar player on earth. He played the William Tell Overture in about 22 seconds while he was riding a motorcycle at 65 miles an hour. You could hear every single note. This guy is just an old cowboy with his black hat and jeans and coat and he played two Mozart overtures on the guitar at the same time. It was incredible. It sounded like three guitars. I've never heard a guitar played like that. He was quite remarkable. He even got everybody a little jazzed up. He told us we were going to sing a song we sang in Sunday school. There were a lot of us from Houston who had great fun with this because we got to sing, "Do Lord." We had great fun with that. That's an inside joke that some of you know why that's so funny. Pastor Thieme used to always ridicule that song. Years ago we had a pastor's conference at Berachah Church in 1988 and I tried to get some of the other pastors to put together a little men's chorus group and go up and sing something special for him, that is, to sing "Do Lord." They were so scared of him but people didn't know what a great sense of humor he had. He would have just fallen over laughing but they were too scared so we couldn't pull that off. We had fun anyway.

The speaker at the banquet was the real treat. That was a man I first heard here in Houston at the Jewish Community Center, Dr. Jacques Gauthier, who worked for twenty years on his doctoral dissertation on who has the legal ownership rights to the Old City of Jerusalem. Most people don't realize that when they talk about East Jerusalem and the Palestinian claims for East Jerusalem they're talking about the Old City of Jerusalem which has all the holy sites for Israel and Christians. Until the late 19th century that's all there was. You didn't have Jews buying land and moving outside the walls until about the 1880's when land was being purchased in small amounts. So the real heart of Jerusalem is Old Jerusalem. The Palestinians are laying claim to that. Well, Dr. Gauthier is laying claim to that. You've heard me present a lot of his findings as I've discussed the San Remo Resolutions and the end of the First World War and how the Balfour Declaration which had no legal standing whatsoever was made completely a part of the San Remo Resolution and therefore gained the status of international law because it was adopted word-for-word into San Remo. He gave an hour-long presentation. When we get the videos up and ready, you're going to watch that video. It's the best I've heard him do and I've heard him three or four times. He does have some YouTube videos. He got his doctorate at Geneva University at their school of International Law and the three professors he had to defend his dissertation to were hostile. They were not at all sympathetic to his thesis, which is that the Jews have undisputed legal ownership of all of Jerusalem and have since the end of World War I. It took him over twenty years to write it. He has over 3200 footnotes and the dissertation, which I have a copy of, weighs about 15 or 20 pounds.

Then on Tuesday Dr. Touissant gave devotions. I hope we can get him here for the Chafer Conference. Then Dr. David Reagan spoke on the topic of the evil of Replacement Theology, its origin, history, and contemporary relevance. I only heard about twenty minutes of it but from what I hear he did a great job on it. He showed how replacement theology was not part of the early church in the first two centuries and then how it gradually came in because of a shift to an allegorical interpretation. Of course, you all have been taught about this many times but for many people this is new information. Historically this covered the Church from the early period up to the Protestant Reformation.

Then in the second part we had a message from Dr. Bill Watson who is a professor of history at Colorado Christian University and his topic was on the history of Christian Zionism. Basically he covered the rise of Christian Zionism from the period just after the Reformation through the 1700s so that means he covered the last part of the 1500s up through the 1700s. He is amazing. He's a multi-linguist, a polyglot. He was a German translator for the United States Army back in the 60s and 70s and that training has certainly served him well. He also knows Greek and Latin and several other languages which enables him to do a lot of original language research through the 17th century which is his area of specialty. He's very knowledgeable on 17 th and 18 th century British literature and he has discovered dozens and dozens of passages showing that many of the Puritans were not only pre-Millennial, they were pre-tribulational.

For years dispensationalists have been told by people who are not dispensationalists that John Nelson Darby was the first to "invent" the pre-tribulational rapture in the 1830s. Now because of the scholars that have been motivated by this think tank quite a number of historical figures, going all the way back to pseudo-Ephraim in the 4th century in Syria taught a pre-tribulational rapture. Not all of these guys had put the details together over the years. Some of them only had three and a half year tribulations but they teach that the church is raptured before the tribulation begins and that's very clear. What he pointed out in this is that what was going along with this during this period was a shift to a literal view of the Jews, not the Church, and the literal land of Israel and that the Jews would be restored to the land before the Messiah came back. He did a fabulous job with that. It gets a little into historical minutiae and detail. He quotes dozens and dozens of these pastors and theologians Under the Puritan Commonwealth under Cromwell there were individuals like John Owen who was a chaplain to Cromwell and John Drury, another chaplain, and many, many others developing these ideas at this time and citing from the original sources to show that. Bill did a marvelous job and that covers the first thirteen pages of my outline, which is good. I had a sixty page outline so all of this jelled. Reagan did the Reformation, Watson did the first 200 years after the reformation and I did Jewish/Christian Zionism from the Protestant Reformation up to the Balfour Declaration. Of course the night before Gauthier's presentation covered everything from the Balfour declaration up until the present so you can listen to these four messages I've described and you will get a panorama of Church history and what the Church has thought about Israel throughout the centuries from the birth of the Church to the present.

The current events on Tuesday night were developed by Bill Koenig who is a White House Correspondent and he has his own website. It's called Watch.org, very conservative. I would recommend you looking at his website. He gave a lot of interesting analyses of what's going on today. Some is frightening information when you realize what some people in this country in upper levels of leadership are trying to do.

Then the other speaker Tuesday night was someone known to this congregation, Norm Ettinger, who the editor of the Ettinger Report. We had him here in September. He spoke about some different things and one of the more interesting aspects was on the demographic issue. One of the big claims you'll hear from people who support the two-state solution, is that Israel should have their own state and the Palestinians should have their own state, is that the demographics support it. The Arabs are making babies like rabbits. If it's one state, the Arabs are going to overwhelm the Jews, some claim. But the reality is that the Arabs aren't making babies like rabbits any more. Israel has poured a lot of money into Palestine which a lot of people don't know, building the infrastructure in Palestine to try to build the middle class. The more middle class they become the more the birthrate drops so the Arab birthrate has dropped significantly. Whereas in Israel, not just the ultraorthodox in Israel are having babies but it's become a mark of Zionist patriotism to have four or five children. This is becoming popular in Israel so the birthrate in Israel for the last ten years has been skyrocketing. At the current ate there's not going to be a problem, If you had a single state like you have now, the Jews would be in the majority and would stay in the majority.

Then the next morning the first speaker was Michael Rydelnik. I've gotten to know him well the last couple of years. He's the head of the Jewish Studies Department at Moody Bible Institute. He spoke about the land promise in the New Testament. He also began with his testimony which was fascinating because both of his parents were Holocaust survivors. All of their families were killed in the Holocaust. He was raised in an Orthodox home and the story of how he came to know the Lord is fascinating. I'm not going to tell you because when I go to Kiev in January this was such a great presentation I'm going to have that shown one night when I'm gone. Tommy Ice will be here both Sundays and the Tuesday and Thursday in between we'll have videos of Thessalonians a couple of those nights and then this video of Michael Rydelnik one night and you will thoroughly enjoy that.

Last, Andy Woods, pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church, spoke on Israel and the Kingdom of God at the 10:15 slot. Andy always does a great job. That's a tough slot because so many people have to get to the airport, get in their cars. And whatever and leave early so it's not always a full house.

So it was a great conference. We'll have the videos up. The papers are already up on the website so you can look at them. That reminds me. I skipped Paul Wilkinson. He spoke in the afternoon before me on the Palestinian case for the land for Israel. In other words, we know Israel's case for why they own the land but what is the Palestinian's case? And I'll give you the short version. There isn't one. But they have a lot of lies and a lot of propaganda. The world believes their lies and propaganda and they ignore the legalities and they turn their back on Israel. It really doesn't matter what the truth is because the world just doesn't care.

Okay, we're going to look at Romans. This report shortened things but we have a short passage. I have several things I want to accomplish before we're done so you might want to turn in your Bibles briefly to Romans 11. We won't be there long. In the last several months we've gone through in significant and meticulous detail Romans 9, 10, and 11. I received two nice compliments from friends that I respect very much for their scholarship. One was Randy Price. He came up to me after my presentation and said, "I don't know how you keep all those dates and people straight." I said, "I had 60 pages of notes in front of me." I should have just told him thanks, that I keep it all straight but no, I'm too honest. He said he couldn't tell I was reading a thing. So that was nice. But the one I really prize was Mark Hitchcock. He's pastor of a large church on the north side of Oklahoma. He had one of his deacons with him and they got on the same elevator with me and Mark said, "This is Robby Dean. I was telling you about him on the way down here. Whatever he does, he leaves no stone unturned when he develops a topic or subject." I thought that Randy Price is really the one that leaves no stone unturned but that was a nice compliment and I appreciated that.

I've tried to leave no stone unturned in Romans 9, 10, and 11. The real meat of this section deals with God's righteousness in relationship to Israel. It ends at Romans 11:32 which we finished last time. Verse 33 is a transition. Paul has built his case for the righteousness of God in relation to Gentiles, in relation to Jews, and their failure including that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Then he goes to Romans 3, 4, and 5 to develop justification. From there he goes to develop sanctification in chapters 6, 7, and 8. Then in 9 through 11 he deals with the righteousness of God in relation to Israel. As he builds to this climax, the apex of his argument, he just breaks out in his praise in verse 33, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or, who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Whom Be the glory forever. Amen."

That final statement to the glory of God isn't just concluding Romans 9, 10, and 11. It is a conclusion to Romans 1–11. Everything builds and then as Paul thinks about his intricate, detailed presentation he has made of the righteousness of God, he just breaks out in this spontaneous praise of God's omniscience, His wisdom, and how He has worked this out in human history so He will ultimately be beyond our comprehension.

In verse 12:1 Paul is going to shift gears to talk about the application of what we have learned about God's righteousness in different areas and different arenas of life. So Romans 1–11 is the foundation and then there's a shift in Romans 12 through 16. What I thought we'd do is just go back and pick up an overview. It's important to us to go through these kinds of overviews. So often we can get lost in the weeds and the details and the minutiae as we go through the exegesis of a passage and we forget that these are letters written to be read from the pulpit to the congregation. We go through and we take it apart and we look at all the nuances and everything which is important but sometimes we lose the forest for the trees. Since I haven't done an overview in a while of Romans 1–11, I wanted to do that this evening.

In chapter one, we have the introduction which covers the first seventeen verses and introduces us to the theme of the book. We have the initial greetings and salutations in Romans 1:1–7 where Paul addresses this to the church in Rome and he brings out several facets about Jesus Christ, born of the seed of David, identifying him early on where he's foreshadowing the emphasis on Israel. He states that Jesus doesn't become the Son of God but His resurrection demonstrates that He is the Son of God. In verse 5 he talks about receiving grace and apostleship for the purpose of obedience to the faith. Okay, that's the greeting in one through seven.

Then in verses Romans 1:8–15 Paul expresses his desire to be visit Rome and that he's tried many times but he's been blocked. It hasn't been God's will for him to make it but he wants to come. In Romans 1:15 he says, "So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome." I keep coming back to this because the term "gospel" we often use in a narrow sense, meaning what a person needs to believe to have eternal life or be justified. If Paul is writing this epistle to the congregation in Rome, why do they need to hear how to get to heaven?

He's made it very clear that he's not just talking about the gospel in terms of its simple message of how an unbeliever gets saved or justified and gets eternal life. There's a full gospel. I hate to use this term but the Pentecostals do not understand it's how to have the full, abundant life that Jesus gives us. It's not just getting justified. It includes how the justified person is to live and experience all the blessings that God has given him. That's what Romans does. It talks about justification in verses 3–5 and it talks about the spiritual life in 6–8. That's very much a part of the gospel. We tend to think of in the narrow John 3:16 aspect but Paul uses the term "gospel" many, many times. It's the full good news, all of the wonderful things God has provided for us in life, not just getting eternal life but getting all the blessings we've been blessed with in the spiritual life. So that's how Paul uses it here.

The theme is expressed in verses 16 and 17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" I've pointed out many times in Romans that the word salvation is not just getting phase 1 justification. It has to do with the entire spiritual life all the way out to glorification. So that's how he uses it here. "For in it {the} righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS {man} SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." That first faith is justification. The second faith is sanctification or spiritual life faith. This is grounded in the righteousness of God. Now that's the introduction through verse 17.

Then in the first major division it goes through Romans 5:21. God's righteousness is revealed in condemnation and justification. God is totally righteous in condemning the human race because we haven't lived up to His standard. Chapters 1-3 focus on condemnation. If you think your way through Romans, the first five chapters deal with God's condemnation and justification. That's broken into two parts: condemnation in 1:18 to 3:20 and then justification in 3:21–5:21. Then we'll see sanctification and Israel and you have the first eleven chapters.

In breaking this down in this first part of 1:18 through 3:20 Paul deals with immoral Gentiles. God brings judgment in time, discipline in time against them. That's the wrath of God. It isn't the future judgment it's the present tense being poured out today. Wrath of God is (present tense) being revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness for what may be known of God is manifested in them. Every pagan unbeliever knows that God exists. And they hate it. And they suppress it and they fight against it. That's what this is all about. Because they're worshipping the creature instead of the creator God then delivers them over. He just pulls back the restraints and says "You want to do that? Good, I'm just going to let you have your way." He gives them their head and they go forward. So we have these series of verbs in verse 24, "God also gave them up to uncleanness." You have a series of different sins that characterize that first giving over.

Then verse 26, "For this reason God gave them over to vile passions." This is the introduction of homosexuality. This is a judgment. We're not being judged for homosexual marriage. Homosexual marriage is a judgment on this nation for the fact that we have rejected God, for the fact that we have rejected the Scripture. What we're seeing in our country today is the judgment of God for negative volition. We're not going to be judged for these horrible things that are going on. That is the judgment for our rejection of the truth. The third stage in verse 28, "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; {they are} gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them." That is the ultimate stage of cultural collapse because when that characterizes a people, people can no longer stand.

So we go from the condemnation of immoral Gentiles to the condemnation of moral Gentiles in chapter 2. God judges those who think they are better than everybody else and good enough to get into heaven. So the self-righteous and moral Gentiles are condemned in the first sixteen verses, the hypocrites in the first verse. "Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." This is in terms of their pride and their arrogance. So there's a condemnation of the moral man.

Then the Jews are condemned. The Jews have the Law. The Gentiles sinned without the Law. They didn't have the revelation of God; nevertheless they have sinned and God judges them based on obedience to the revelation He has given them, which is natural revelation. They have rejected that and because of that, God is going to bring judgment upon them. Then the topic shifts to the fact that not only are the Gentiles guilty, but the Jews are guilty. Yes, they have the Law. Yes, they revere and honor the Law superficially but they broke it.

There are six privileges they had, Romans 2:19, "and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?"

The Jews only held to the Law in a formal way but they didn't obey it. Their failures are outlined in verses 22 and 23, "You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?" So they come under condemnation.

Secondly, in verses 25-29, they revered circumcision but they didn't obey God. They thought a superficial obedience was good enough but it wasn't so they condemned by God. They rejected the oracles of God in chapter 3, verses 1-8. That brings the Jews under condemnation and then from 3:9-20 Paul shows that the whole world is condemned because no one has lived up to the righteous standard of God so that all are under sin, verse 9, "What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE."

So those who are with the Law are condemned by the Law. Those who don't have the Law are still disobedient to the revelation that has been given to them. And then we come to 3:21, which starts the great section on justification by faith alone. "But now apart from the Law {the} righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even {the} righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." In verses 21 to 31 we see the development of this doctrine of justification by faith alone. In verse 24 we see it's a free gift. It's not something we earn, "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." Redemption is the purchase price that is in Christ Jesus whom God set forth as a propitiation.

These are great words that are lost today because we've dumbed down translations and we have raised a generation of children and adults who don't have a vocabulary. It's sad because these are great words: redemption, justification, imputation. This morning I had a great conversation with Jim Myers. By the way, there's a little turmoil over in Ukraine. I'll be going over there in January. Don't worry, it's worse on the news than it is in reality. He says there's been a few riots downtown, a few demonstrations and the people demonstrating have done stupid things like throw rocks at the thugs who pass as police officers and they get shot. If you don't want to get shot by police, don't throw rocks at them. It's pretty simple but these things have only happened in a few small areas. One event that happened is there were a lot of western journalists there. The police thugs beat up on the journalists because the journalists were telling everyone what they were doing. It's confined, and Jim says 95% of Kiev business is going on as normal but there have been a few incidents that we need to be in prayer for them.

Jim was talking about the fact he had an opportunity that I may have the same opportunity when I go to teach at a church named St. Paul's. It's been there for quite some time. He said, "Robby, I'm going through Romans and they never heard of justification or imputation. And they call themselves St. Paul's church and they don't know anything. No matter how dumbed-down I get it's not down enough. I teach what I think is pure pabulum and people come and say that's too heavy, too hard to understand." It's not any different here. Internationally we have raised a generation of nitwits. People who can't think anymore. It's not just an American problem. It's an international problem. I think this is one of the things that's going to set the stage for the Antichrist, people who can't think any more. Anyway, Romans 3:21 to 3:31 explains justification.

Then chapter 4 illustrates it from Abraham, that Abraham believed God and it was accounted or imputed to Him for righteousness. Why? Because He believed God. This was long before there was a Mosaic Law, before He was circumcised, before there was any of that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. If you understand that is the illustration in Romans 4, you can understand chapter 4. It all relates to that illustration of Abraham.

Then in chapter 5 we have the benefits of justification. Because God has declared us just before His Supreme Court these are the benefits we have. We have peace with God in verse 1. In verse 2 we can rejoice in hope of the glory of God. In verse 3 we have these blessings and we can glory in tribulation because we know that tribulation produces endurance, and endurance character, and character hope. Hope does not disappoint because of the love of God.

That's the fourth point. We have a tangible expression of God's love poured out in us by God the Holy Spirit. A fifth benefit is that we will be saved in the future from the wrath through Him. We will miss out on aspects of divine discipline in time because we're obedient to His Word. And the sixth benefit is that while we were enemies in verse 10 we were reconciled to God, therefore we can rejoice in God through the Lord Jesus Christ in verse 11. Then we have justification applied to all in verses 12 through 21. Verse 21 says, "So that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

So how do we experience that on a day to day basis? Well, that's the next section called sanctification or the spiritual life in Romans chapters 6, 7, and 8. The first part develops the fact that sanctification or the ability to live for God is based on the baptism by the Holy Spirit at justification. That's 6:1–14. Then we learn that sanctification means that not only has the power of the sin nature been broken, but that means we're no longer slaves to sin but we're to live as slaves to righteousness. Is that done by the Law? Paul answers that in chapter 7 by saying, "No, it's not done by the Law." The Law is righteous, just, and good but you can't get sanctified by the Law. It's just going to leave you frustrated.

The answer comes in chapter 8 which is that sanctification is based on a relationship with God, the Holy Spirit. We have to walk by the Spirit if we're going to experience the fullness of life God has for us and that brings Paul to a conclusion in verses 31–39 where he emphasizes God's everlasting, eternal love, and that nothing can separate us from God's love. As he comes to that conclusion in verses 38 and 39 which says, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

But someone may say who's Jewish, "Wait a minute. God seems to have dumped the Jews. He's promised these things in the Old Testament and now He's going to the Gentiles. God doesn't like the Jews anymore. So how can we believe in His faithfulness?" So in Romans 9–11 we see God's righteousness revealed in His relationship with Israel. Romans 9 shows that His righteousness is revealed in His rejection of corporate Israel. Not every Jew is unsaved but corporately Israel is now removed from a place of blessing because they have rejected Jesus as Messiah. This isn't permanent. This is only temporary. He says this reveals God's righteousness because Israel disobeyed God so God is going to punish them. It's not a permanent state and it's not against individuals but it's dealing with corporate Israel. Israel is still the chosen, the choice one, of God.

Election is corporate here. It has to do with the corporate selection of Israel. Then in Romans 10 we saw that God's righteousness is based on Israel's corporate neglect of Israel. Because Israel has rejected what God revealed God is just and righteous in punishing them. But it's not permanent. There will be a time when any who call on him, and when Israel calls on Him in the name of the Lord, they will be delivered. That is a quote from Joel 2 and that refers to an end time fulfillment.

Then we come to Romans 11 where God's righteousness reveals His faithfulness to the promises to Israel and there will be a future deliverance of Israel and they will be restored to that place of blessing. That's seen in that olive tree illustration. I had a great example of this sitting at the banquet table the other night talking with a lady at the table who was a Bible teacher at a church up north and she made a comment and it related to the olive tree illustration and she just had the interpretation dead wrong which isn't unusual today. People think the olive tree illustration has something to do with salvation or something to do with this thing or that thing. It has to do with the place of blessing within the Abrahamic covenant, that Israel is removed temporarily. Breaking off the branches can't be salvation because that would indicate a loss of salvation. It's that they're being temporarily removed from the place of blessing. That's the whole theme in these three chapters. The wild olive branches are grafted in and this is all going to work itself together in the plan of God so that eventually He will bring the natural olive branches back in and he says that God's plan will work out even more to the benefit to all of the nations.

In verse 28 he says, "From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of {God's} choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all."

This is how it all comes together when the final part comes together in God's plan we're just going to be speechless how it all came together and that what brings Paul to this great statement where he says, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" When he says this he begins with a figure of speech, "the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God."

Now often we use the figure of speech of something being incomprehensible. We say it's "unfathomable." A fathom is a unit of measurement. Long time ago they used to measure of a hand width or the length of the arm from the shoulder to the tip of the thumb for a cubit or the length of a forearm for a cubit. A fathom was if you stood up and held your arms out in a circle, the circumference of that circle was roughly a fathom. It came to be six feet. This was a nautical term. This would be used when you were going out into the water and you want to measure the depth of the water you'd see how many fathoms deep it was. If you can't see the bottom it's unfathomable. You can't find the depths. You can't reach the bottom of something.

So that's the idea here. You can't plumb the depths. We can't comprehend God. So this is a great figure of speech used many times throughout the Scripture. It's usually related to wealth, the depth of the riches. Riches is a metaphor used to describe the abundance of what God has given us. Passages like Romans 2:4, "Do you despise the riches, that is the abundance, of God's goodness, that is forbearance and longsuffering not knowing that the goodness of God brings you to repentance."

Riches of God there refers to the abundance of His grace gifts. Romans 9:23 says, "Oh, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy." Ephesians uses it a lot. Ephesians 1:7 talks about the riches of His grace, the abundance of His grace. Ephesians 1:18 talks about "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." Ephesians 2:7 talks about the "exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ." Then Colossians 1:27 says, "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles."

It's the superabundance of what God has given us freely in grace. Wisdom and knowledge, how unsearchable are His judgments. This is the Greek word anexereuanetos meaning that you can't search it out, you can't seek it all, and it's incomprehensible. So the wisdom and knowledge are incomprehensible to us. It doesn't mean we can't comprehend what God has revealed to us but there's more to God than that. God hasn't revealed Himself exhaustively to us so we'll go through eternity and never come close to plumbing the depths of what we can learn from God. They are past finding out, past tracing out; they're unsearchable and inscrutable.

So let's look at the terms wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is more than information. Information is just facts and data. Knowledge takes that and constructs it together in various ways to produce something. So contextually knowledge has to do with God's understanding of every aspect of creation. It's part of His omniscience. God's knowledge is all-inclusive. There's nothing we can imagine that is beyond the knowledge of God. God is infinite. All of His attributes are infinite. Infinity applies to all of His attributes including knowledge. His knowledge has no limits. He knows everything that is actual, and everything that is possible. He knows every conceivable permutation. His knowledge is direct and exhaustive. He knows all the knowable. His knowledge includes everything from the most minute detail to all the macro relations, causes and consequences of anything and everything in the universe. And He knows it directly, intuitively, and immediately. He is always aware of everything. His knowledge never increases or decreases.

Now wisdom is more than knowledge. Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and to use it to craft something that is skillful and beautiful. It has to do with not only knowledge but artistry. So wisdom is the application of knowledge in a skillful or artistic way in the production of the creation of something. Proverbs 3:19, "The LORD by wisdom founded the earth," Wisdom is the skill that God used in creating the universe. Psalm 104:24, "O Lord how manifold are Your works. In wisdom You have made them all." Psalm 136:5, "To Him Who by wisdom made the heavens. His mercy endures forever." So knowledge and wisdom are brought together in Romans 11:33 because it pulls together everything that God used in developing and carrying out His plan and it's beyond us. We cannot unscrew the inscrutable. We can just sit back and marvel at how it will all come together.

Then Paul supports this with two quotes from the Old Testament. In Romans 11:34, he quotes from Isaiah 40:13 and 14, "For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR?" In Isaiah 40:13 we read, "For who has directed the spirit of the Lord or has His counselor taught Him?" The answer is no one. No one can teach God. He already knows everything. No one can give him guidance. He is already aware of everything. Then Isaiah 40:14, "From whom did He take counsel and who instructed Him? Who taught Him the path of justice or who taught him knowledge or showed Him the way of understanding?" No one did because God knows it all. This is a remarkable passage on the omniscience of God.

Then Romans 11:35 says, "Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN?" This is just a really free translation from Job 41:11. It's sort of a paraphrase of the verse. In other words God is saying there was nothing that preceded Me. Everything is Mine so you can't appeal to anything above me or before me as the basis for my knowledge." This brings us to the concluding prayer which says from the source of God comes everything. Romans 11:36 says, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him {be} the glory forever. Amen." He is the source of everything and He is the means by which everything has been created and it is ultimately for Him. That brings us to the end of the first eleven chapters in Romans and next time we'll come back and start in Romans 12:1 where we get into the application of God's righteousness to everyday living.