A Voice in the
So, if there is no -real- difference between Jew and Gentile, why even have an entity called "Jew"? Is there an 'advantage' to being a Jew? Well, there is. Primarily "because they were entrusted with the Words of God." (vs2) The Scriptures. All the Old Testament "Law, Prophets and Psalms" (Lk24:44) were penned and safeguarded by Jews. And until Christ came, it was Jewish scribes who meticulously hand-copied the scrolls. Tradition says that, if in copying, even one tiny error was made, they would throw away the whole thing and start over...so that the copy would be "perfect".
Today we have a similar group. They are the 'legalists' we spoke of last month. And more specifically they have become known as "KJV-only". They meticulously hold to things like "inerrancy" and "manuscript origins." They reject anything tainted by Alexandrian heresy. They like to think they are pure from doctrinal adulterations of Rome. It is quite possible that their militance has ensured the availability of Masoretic-Textus Receptus texts to the translators so that good translations are available. They are certainly a storehouse of knowledge regarding the truth, for those who are seeking. And by reading the results of their research and scholarship it is possible to ascertain the truth regarding the origins of the Scripture translations.
We have already concluded that the Jewish 'law' does not save. Many claim affinity for it outwardly, but break it in their heart. (ch2) Nor does being "KJV-only" save. I know of a person who balked at switching from the NIV (perversion) to KJV/NKJV -because-of- what he saw the KJV-only 'people' to be. The ones he saw; Unregenerate, prideful hypocrites. We have noted in other recent writings how many of them don't even preach the essential salvation doctrine of "repentance." So, "if some did not believe, will not their unbelief nullify the faith of God?" (vs3) If they hold forth God's Word, while at the same time disobeying and blaspheming it (2:24), does this render God helpless? Not hardly! "Let God be true, and every man a liar...that [God] might be justified in [His] sayings, and will overcome when [He] is judged." (vs4) Man's sin may try to thwart God's purpose, but it is His -WORD- which triumphs. When it goes out it "shall" accomplish its purpose. It "shall" do the thing it was sent to do (Is55:11) often, "in spite of" the human agent wielding it; BECAUSE -God- is righteous.
When a sinner is viewed next to God's Word, the sinner is seen to be exceedingly sinful, and God is seen to be righteous. So when God pronounces -wrath- (1:18) against unrighteousness, does this make God "bad" for being so "cruel"? (vs5) If He didn't, how else could there be 'consequences'?
For all things in creation there are consequences. For every action, there is a reaction. You push on a door, either it opens, or you hurt yourself from pushing too hard. If you walk in the direction of the edge of a dock and refuse the exhortations to turn (repent), you will fall into the water. Was it anybody's 'fault' that the dock had an 'edge' or that the water below existed? Was there something intrinsically 'evil' about the builder of the dock? No. Simply, you walked, refusing to heed the warnings, and got wet.
The righteous declaration is "the soul that sins, it shall die.." (Ez18:4) Statement of fact. To Adam and Eve it was stated, 'don't eat of -that- tree and live; eat of it and die." (Gen2:17) God lovingly gave them the warning. They did not heed. They died. Statement of fact. If people die because of sin, that is a righteous statement of fact. Not God's 'cruelty'. God is continually warning and pleading, "Turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die...? (Ez33:11)
Furthermore, somebody put up signs warning against getting too close to the edge of the dock. He very meticulously made sure all the correct words were printed out and spelled correctly. Was the sign-maker at fault for making sure it was posted? Were those words of warning terribly 'hateful' and 'judgmental' because they seriously encouraged a 'change' in direction? No. But when you got wet, you discovered the "TRUTH" of the warnings of the sign and of those yelling to you to "look out!" They were all proven to be "right". Supposing the sign maker fell into the water and got wet because he neglected to heed the warning of the sign which he so meticulously made and installed, did that change the message of the sign? No. He's 'wet' just like you are.
Is it necessary for hundreds of people to jump off the dock to prove the "righteousness" of the message of the sign? Will it make the sign -more- "right"? Will it make the dock-builder -more- "correct" in his assessment that a person walking over the edge will get wet? Will the people who heeded the sign, and are "dry" and warm, be any -more- dry because 100 people jumped over, rather than just one? No. But those who fell over are -all- "wet". (vs8) ...thoroughly...
Trouble is... -everybody- is in the water, drowning. (vs10) Nobody heeded the sign. Some didn't know about the sign. Others did. But they're -all- there, nonetheless.
Regarding "sin" notice all the characteristics of the sinner. No one seeks for God. (vs11) This is opposite of modern evangelistic techniques that cajoles everybody to "want" God. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way.." (Is53:6) There is nothing good about anyone. (vs12) And what comes out of the heart does so in words and actions of all sort. (vs13-17) And they do not "fear" God. (vs18) You see, God does not call us to "love" Him until we have "feared" Him. Yes, we are to love Him. (Deu6:5) But just as we cannot "believe/receive" Christ until we have "repented" to God (Acts20:21); we cannot "love" God until we have "feared" Him. Repentance and fear go together; as do faith and love.
Now that everybody's -in- the water, that 'sign' up on the dock cannot pull anybody out, can it. The law merely gave "knowledge" of sin, but does not save. (vs20) Now, along comes the dock builder. Even though He built it to keep people dry, and warned them against the water, He sees them in the water and wishes to 'rescue' them.
Since the dock is so 'high' above the water, simply throwing a life preserver down to the people will not do. So, the Builder sent His Son (Jn3:16) to swim around, bringing and offering a preserver to each person. (Mt13:3) The procedure then was that the Son would give a 'signal' to the Father (Mt10:32,Rev3:5) that 'this one' is ready to go to the "Father's house" (Jn14:2) so the Holy Spirit keeps tabs on that 'line' (Eph1:13,2Co1:22) so that when the Son goes back up, He will then grab all the lines and "receive [them] to [Himself]" (Jn14:3) as He "raises" them up at the "last day". (Jn6:44,54) Until the Son gathers everybody up, that life preserver is a "redemption..freely" (vs24) As long as the person hangs on to the preserver, the fact that he fell in, no longer matters. It is now in the past and forgiven. (vs25) But salvation will not come unless the flounderer "receives" (Jn1:12) the preserver and in "faith" believes what Jesus is telling him about being pulled up later. (vs26)(1Jn3:3)
So... at this point, what is the difference between the sign-maker and the passer-by? They are -both- in the water, wearing life preservers, with a 'line' being held by the Holy Spirit, waiting for salvation...the "redemption of the body" (Rom8:23) There is nothing either of them can -do- to be saved. (vs27) The legalist has no grounds to stand on "KJV-only" does he. He had it, but didn't heed it. He has to "believe" just like the other.
The sign-maker cannot "boast" (vs27) to everybody, "Hey, everybody! See that sign -up-there- that I made? The Dock-builder gave -me- that project to mount it prominently on its post." So!!?? Big deal!! You're still in the water just like everybody else! When the Son comes around offering a preserver, he cannot pretend that he's -not- 'really' in the water (repentance) and tell the Son that he 'doesn't NEED' the preserver, on account of...he made the sign 'up there' on the dock. After all, he was rather "chummy" with the builder Who commissioned the sign, saying, "the Builder and I are 'bosom buddies'." Nope. He's 'wet' and as such his "mouth [is] stopped" and he's under judgment just like the rest of the world. (vs19)
God is the One who justifies and saves. Faith is the agency of that salvation. But notice a difference between the legalist (Jew) and the other (Gentile). The Jew is justified "by" faith. (vs30) This word "by" carries the notion of "out of, from, away from". You see, they have thought they had it all. They think they -already- have faith. But they are just as lost as the rest. They have to be brought -out-from- this past thinking they've had, in order to be humble to repentance of nothingness. They must get rid of their pride and SELF-righteousness. They have supposed that their 'law' indicated righteousness, not realizing it actually displayed their sin. (vs20) So, they must "come out of her" (Rev18:4) from their past.
On the other hand, the 'other' who has no legalism to boast on has no basis or presumption of what "faith" might be. He is justified "through" faith. "by means of, by reason of." In other words, he is introduced, for the first time, to the concept of faith. He doesn't have to be 'un-taught' the error of self-presumption and partial-truths.
Remember how in ch2 we learned that God judges based on the person's background and knowledge. Well, His process in redeeming the individual is personalized, too. The one must be brought "out of law" (false faith) to come to Christ. The other is "introduced to" Christ. When Paul witnessed to Jews, He "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." (Acts17:2) When he witnessed to the Greeks, he introduced to them the "unknown God" (Acts17:23) beginning with God the "creator". But the message to both was the same. To the Jew it was "repent" (Acts3:19) and to the Greeks, "repent". (Acts17:30) And God's righteousness is "toward all and upon all those who believe (Jew or Greek). For there is no difference." (vs22)
Is the Law voided because of God's grace (vs24) through faith? (vs28) No. It is established. (vs31) Shown to be truthful and just. An accurate representation of the existing chasm between righteous God and sinful man; and the need for Christ's intervention and redemption. (vs22,24,26b)