Rom. 1:1, 3, 4; Rom. 5:11; Rom. 8:29
In referring to this epistle let me encourage you, if you have not already done so, to acquaint yourself with its teaching. If we are established in the truth of Romans we shall be able to intelligently follow the divine sequence of Christian doctrine in the epistles of Paul. From Romans to Colossians; from Colossians to Ephesians; such is the spiritual order.
Romans teaches our death with Christ; Colossians our death and resurrection with Christ; Ephesians teaches that being quickened and raised with Christ (union) we are seated in the heavenlies in Christ. Absorbing the truth of Romans into our souls by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and in communion with the Lord, we are led to judge ourselves as God has judged us in the cross of Christ. Being made conscious of the fact that the flesh is incorrigibly bad, so much so that God, being unable to mend it, has once and for all ended it in condemning it unsparingly in the death of Christ at Calvary, we accept the judgment of God, thus unmistakably expressed for ourselves, fervently saying "AMEN" to the truth of the cross. We see that in that death in which our sins were dealt with, we too, as to all that we were in the flesh, have been dealt with. All that we have done, our sins, our guilt; all that we are, our sinful state, has been fully met for God. He has finished with men after the flesh, and so have we. We look away from self as being so unworthy, and look to Christ, the Man out of death, in Whom everything of God and for God is found.
Keeping this in mind, I desire to bring the Lord Himself before you in some of His mediatorial glories. We cannot make progress in truth, except as our hearts get the understanding of His glory, Who is the blessed theme of the Gospel of God.
The epistle sets before us time and again what is "of God." In chapter 1 alone we have nine things mentioned as being "of God." Let us remember that all blessing from God has reached us through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is essential if we are to value the blessing aright, to be established in the truth concerning Himself and in affection for Him.
Why is the Gospel said to be "concerning His Son"? The height of our blessing is set out in chapter 8, where those led of the Spirit are said to be "sons of God." So, too, we "have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Also, "the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." The purpose of God is that we should be "conformed to the image of His Son." We can only learn the blessing of sonship as we appreciate the relationship and glory in which our Lord Jesus Christ, in abiding Manhood, subsists before God.
Then, too, God has reached finality in His Son. He is God's last word, and if He is refused, everything of God is refused. The fullest outspeaking of God has reached men in the Son. God is now fully revealed in Him, in nature and in character.
We must remember, while speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ as subsisting now in glory in abiding Manhood in the relationship of Son of God, that His Sonship did not commence with His Incarnation. Scripture teaches us the Incarnation of the Son, NOT Sonship by Incarnation. He brought into Manhood that relationship in which He had eternally subsisted. There were relationships, with the affections proper to them, in the Godhead before time began, and which shall continue when time has ceased to be. Those relationships and affections are eternal. The Scripture which has helped to confirm me in the truth of the eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus is John 17:24, "Father . . . Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." This is the love of the Father for the Son; He speaks of that love being set on Him before the world was brought into being. It seems almost superfluous to have to say that we cannot have the love of relationship without the relationship.
A vast range of things having to do with the mediatorial glories of the Lord Jesus Christ comes before us in this epistle. As Mediator He is the One Who came out from God to speak and act for God, and Who went in to God, to act and speak for man.
All His official glories are related to Him as the Mediator, and the glory of His Person lies behind every office which He fills. He must be God to act for God, and He must be Man to act for men in such a way that God should be glorified in having men before Himself in blessing. He is God and He is Man, "Christ . . . Who is over all, God blessed for ever." His Mediatorial work is what it is because of Who He is.
Hence the Gospel is, "concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." "Jesus" speaks of His lowly grace in incarnation — the charm of His Manhood. Let us ever remember that precious Name was given to Him as the One Who would, "save His people from their sins." Surely the verse we are quoting from Matthew 1, confirms that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New.
He is "the Christ" — the Anointed Man. To Him is committed the work of establishing every thought of God for His own glory. His purpose and counsel, His promises, all shall be established BY and IN the Man of His pleasure. "All the promises of God in Him are Yea, and in Him Amen." The blessing of the creation, Israel and the nations, heaven and earth, shall be brought to pass by Him.
He is "our Lord." This is not the lip service of mere profession. It is the glad acknowledgement of those whose hearts have been won by the Gospel. In the Acts Peter preached to Israel that God had made that same Jesus Whom they had crucified, "both Lord and Christ."
In the house of Cornelius, the Gentile, he announced, "Jesus Christ . . . (He is Lord of all)." Thus there is the administration by Him of the blessing of God, to the Jew first and also to the nations. The individual comes into the blessing by confessing "the Lord Jesus," believing in his heart that, "God has raised Him from the dead." He finds then that, "The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him," and, "whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved."
The day is coming when heaven, earth and hell shall own His Lordship. That will be the day of His manifested power and glory. As drawn by mercy while "Our Lord is now rejected and by the world disowned, by the many still neglected and by the few enthroned," we confess in glad unison with the whole company of the redeemed "JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD".
In Rom. 3, God has made righteousness available for men. But it is "by faith of Jesus Christ unto all . . ." Such is the greatness of His finished work that the justifying grace of God addresses itself to all mankind, but it is only "upon all them that believe." God is "just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
The grace of God can righteously justify the sinner. Those who believe stand before God upon an unassailable foundation, being justified freely, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. God looks upon us as in a flawless position; we too, are perfectly at home before Him. The righteousness of God now holds no terror for us because "as He is, so are we in this world."
We see the blessedness of our position in our glorified Saviour — Christ Jesus. God has bought us by Christ's precious blood, to set us free from the judgment which our sins assuredly deserved and to have us before Himself for His pleasure and our lasting blessing. This flawless position is the believer's for ever, for Christ has obtained through His death at Calvary an "ETERNAL REDEMPTION."
He is thus the "Mercy Seat" — the meeting place for God and man. For God, because all the claims of the throne have been met by the blood of the crucified One. For man, because He has taken our liabilities upon Himself and has given to God a full satisfaction for them all. God has been propitiated, and He, Christ, is our Substitute. As to the Mercy Seat, God had said to Moses, "There I will meet with thee . . " (Ex. 25:22). This was in the most holy place, in the Tabernacle. So now, in grace, the holiest of all is opened to us who trust in Christ's redeeming blood. May we know what it is, as forgiven and redeemed, to meet God there in full response as purged worshippers.
In Rom. 4, the power of God is prominent, as the righteousness of God is the theme of ch. 3. That power has been witnessed in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has been delivered for our offences and the power of God has reached out to Him in the depths of death as the sin Bearer, and lifted Him out in glorious resurrection for our justification. We are as clear now from our offences as He, once the sin Bearer at Calvary, is in resurrection.
Behind the righteousness and the power of God is the love of God. The cross of Christ, as in Romans 5, is at once the witness of the righteousness and the love of God. For while God has shed His love abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which He has given us, our enjoyment of the love of God is not the measure of it. NO! Christ's death is the measure of the love of God, and thus, "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
THE CROSS IS THE LESSON BOOK OF THE LOVE OF GOD.
I am reminded of the boards of the Tabernacle in Exodus. They were made of shittim wood overlaid with gold — the same materials as the Ark of the Testimony. Each board had two tenons which fitted into two sockets of silver. The silver speaks of the redemption work of Christ, and the two sockets, of the two-fold witness of that work, the righteousness and love of God. May we be established in the truth of the death of Christ — the basis of our standing before God.
In the appreciation of the blessing and favour of God we may well "joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ," the great Administrator of the bounty of God. Through Him we have received the reconciliation. Where distance was, nearness is; His place is the measure of that place which is ours as the fruit of His finished work.
"So nigh, so very nigh to God, I cannot nearer be;
For in the Person of the Son, I am as near as He."
Adam, the fallen head of a fallen race, bequeathed to all his posterity, sin, death and condemnation, as the fruit of his one act of disobedience in Eden. Now Christ's coming into the world was no after-thought with God. Indeed, as setting up Adam as racial head, God had Christ before Him. Coming into the world, and going into death at Calvary, He fully met all that Adam had brought in by his fall. God has been glorified, and now as risen from the dead the Lord Jesus Christ has displaced the first head. HE IS THE HEAD OF A NEW RACE! Just as we read of "the many" who are under fallen Adam's headship, so we read of "the many" who are under the headship of the risen Christ.
His headship is viewed in this racial way in Romans 5:15-17, 19. Verse 18 gives a more extended view of His headship. It is in keeping with 1 Cor. 11:3, where we read, "The head of every man is Christ."
All the blessing of the grace of God is available for "all men," but it is only available to them "in Christ." He has brought in for His posterity, the grace of God; the gift by grace — justification; the gift of righteousness, and justification of life. As under fallen Adam's headship they had been reigned over by sin in the power of death, so now under the headship of the risen Christ they will "reign in life by One, Jesus Christ."
He has, as Romans 6 teaches, broken for us the mastery of sin; consequently, we are to reckon ourselves "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
He has borne the condemnation and curse of a broken law, hence we are "Free from the law, O happy condition."
We have a New Head — Romans 5; a New Master — Romans 6; and a New Husband — Romans 7.
We have reached in our souls the truth and power of deliverance when, having exclaimed "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" we burst into thanksgiving, saying, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
In Romans 8, we learn, amongst many blessed truths, there is NO CONDEMNATION, NO ACCUSATION and NO SEPARATION. The apostle ranges through the realm of the opposition which confronts the saint of God, and in case he has missed any opponent he concludes, in verse 39, "no any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." We are in Christ where the love of God is, and where there is nothing to condemn.
Then, in this wonderful chapter which gives us the doctrinal climax of the epistle he declares the purpose of God. That purpose is not only to bring us to glory, but God has marked us our beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be "the Firstborn among many brethren."
What a prospect lies before us! To be taken out of this world of sin and darkness and to be set down in the presence of the glory of God, surrounding His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This shall consummate our blessing. Not one saint shall be missing. Every believer, justified here by the precious blood of Christ, shall be there, and like Him too. But He shall be the Chief One amongst those holy, heavenly and glorified myriads. All shall acknowledge gladly that He is the Sun and Centre. He shall have the pre-eminence. Every saint shall contribute then, in the fullest possible way, to His supreme glory — "The Firstborn" amongst the "many brethren."
"Not we alone, Thy loved ones all complete
In glory round Thee there with joy shall meet,
All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord,
Object supreme of all, by all adored."
May the Lord bless this presentation of Himself and give us to grow in appreciation of Him, whilst we await His return.