Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aber 2011 Morning Meetings 3 & 4

Some more notes on David Jones' Aber Conference addresses. 

III. Romans 11: The Mystery of Israel 

In Australia a new word has been coined. It is Cubs, meaning "Brogans Cashed Up". Many “Brogans”, who apparently are the Aussie equivalent of Chavs in the UK, have come into money due to gold mining. It is something of a turnaround for “Brogans” to be “cashed up”. A turnaround of greater proportions is found in Romans 9-11. Here we find that Gentiles as the centre when it comes to the riches of the gospel, while Jews are on the outside. We see a similar unexpected turnaround in Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of the Two Sons.

This was a personal issue for Paul. He was deeply concerned for the salvation of his own people, Romans 11:1.

It was also a pastoral matter, Romans 11:13. Paul did not want Gentiles converts to turn their back on the Jews, Romans 15:5-6, 7-9.

Here was also theological question, Romans 11:28-29. Has God finished with the Jews? Paul wants to unveil the mystery, Romans 11:25-26, 16:25-27.

1. Israel’s fall was not total

Paul was saved, Romans 11:1, 1 Timothy 1.13ff. He customarily preached to Jews first. There was a godly remnant of converted Jews, Romans 11:2-4. Also Romans 11:5-6. Acts 21:20 suggests that there were many Jewish believers in Paul's day.

God had his elect people within ethnic Israel.

2. Israel’s fall was not pointless

God’s purpose, was that through Israel’s fall the Gentiles might be saved, Romans 11:11. This was a great mystery, Romans 11:33-36.

Consider the goodness and severity of God, Romans 11:22. He is angrily loving and lovingly angry. The “olive tree” of Israel was not uprooted. Dead wood was broken off and the Gentiles brought in. Romans 11:23-24. Gentiles may now call Yahweh Abba. There is no room for pride on their part, Romans 11:11-12, 19-20.

Similarly in our day God has “moved south”. The church is languishing in the West, but in the Global South the gospel is advancing. May we be provoked to envy and pray that the Lord will visit us again.

3. Israel’s fall was not final

The remnant was not “leftovers” but “firstfruits”, Romans 11: 12, 15-16. Hoping for a future restoration of the Jews is not Zionism – uncritical support for the State of Israel, but a longing for revival, Acts 1:6. Most Jews don’t even live in Israel. When Paul says “all Israel will be saved”, Romans 11:26, he does not mean simply that all elect Jews will be saved, or that “all Israel” in the sense of the “Israel of God” comprised of Jew and Gentile will be saved. That the elect will be saved is no great mystery. Rather, Paul is saying there will be a great turning to the Lord among Jewish people, 2 Corinthians 3:15-16. “There will come a time when the generality of mankind both Jew and Gentile, will come to Jesus Christ. He hath had but little takings of the world yet, but he will have before he hath done.” Thomas Goodwin,

The salvation of the Jews will have huge impact on the cause of the gospel worldwide. We should be humbled by God’s severity towards Israel and grace to us. We are guests in Israel’s house, Romans 11:18, 20. This should excite us. Hope holds up the head of holy desires.

In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come), acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in… [Westminster Larger Catechism Answer to Q. 191]

Let us not be resigned to small things, but pray for all Israel to be saved and the fullness the Gentiles to be brought in.

This hope should lead us to worship, Romans 11:33-36

IV. Romans 15:14-33: To Boldly Go were No one has Gone Before 

Paul’s travel plans, Romans 15:23-25. Jerusalem, Rome and then Spain. This is why Paul wrote Romans. He wanted to go to Spain and break new ground for the gospel, Romans 15:19, 23. He has preached in the religions of the eastern Mediterranean now he wanted to head west, Romans 15:20. He wants believers in Rome to give up their small ambitions and come save the world with him. Romans is not a systematic theology for Bible nerds, but an apology for world evangelism. It is tragic when evangelicals are not evangelistic. Blessed is the church when her evangelists are theologians and her theologians are evangelists. Church members might be better called partners. We are partners in God's mission to the world.

God’s mission involves:

1. Proclaiming Christ

In Romans 15:17-19 Old Testament worship language is used of evangelism, Romans 15:16. The Lord’s Supper is about proclamation, not re-presentation. Jesus’ once and for all death on the cross unites Jew and Gentile.

The collection, Romans 15:25-27, validated Paul’s ministry, helping to overcome Jew/Gentile divisions.

2. Pioneering

“To boldly go where no one has gone before”.

Paul was not an adventurer. He was fired by a biblical ambition, Romans 15:21.

The need today is 10 times greater than in Paul’s time due to population growth. How will they hear? We need to win people for Christ, build them up in the faith, and send them out in his service. Do we have non Christian friends to whom we might witness? Are we reaching the unreached in our community?

3. Partnering

Romans 15:24. Paul wanted recruit a team in Rome to help him in his mission to Spain. Paul always worked with others, Titus 3:12-13. Are you a Diotrophes or a Gaius, a hindrance or help to mission, 3 John 6? At the end of Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler wished he had done more to save Jewish people. What more can we do to win people for Christ? The day of judgement is at hand. Don’t waste time on endless committees where minutes are kept, but hours wasted.

Will you go or stay? If you must stay, then stay to pray and pay for mission.

4. Praying

Romans 15:30-33. Prayer is the work. When Moses’ hands were raised in prayer Israel prevailed against the Amalekites, Exodus 17. William Carey urged Andrew Fuller to “hold the rope” of prayer when he went mining for precious souls in India. Was Paul's prayer answered, Romans 15:31? Yes, but not in the way he expected, see Acts 21-28. God is not predictable, but he is sovereign.

Paul’s priestly ministry of mission, Romans 15:16. He was pioneer. His work was perilous. We must pray for the success of gospel mission.  

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