God’s Righteousness in His Dispensational Ways
Romans 9 – 11
In Romans 9, 10, and 11 Paul sets forth God’s righteousness in His dispensational ways. These chapters deal with the main objection that the Jews had with the Gospel Paul preached. To them, Paul’s message was that God was finished with Israel. For this reason, they felt that they had a solid argument against the validity of the Gospel. Paul addresses how the free Gospel can be reconciled with God’s special promises to Israel. Paul clears up these mistaken notions, showing that God is in no way inconsistent, that the promises will literally be fulfilled, and yet God is righteous in setting aside the nation of Israel for their unbelief and rejection of the Messiah. To do this he makes heavy use of the Old Testament, quoting at least 30 times in the span of three chapters!
Application to today. While these three chapters were written to show the Jews that the promises of God to Israel have not been nullified by the Gospel, they also are useful to show Reformed Theologians that the system of doctrine called Covenant Theology (or Replacement Theology) is erroneous.
O U T L I N E
Content. To accomplish his task in these three chapters, Paul makes the following arguments:
- A line of natural descent from Abraham does not merit blessing.
- Special promise has always been the principle God uses for blessing.
- Sovereign mercy is the only hope for any people.
- Man has no right to question the rights and righteousness of God.
- The scriptures predict:
- Israel would be rejected (Hos. 2:23).
- The Gentiles would be called (Hos. 1:10).
- Only a remnant of Israel would be saved (Isa. 1 & 10).
- Israel’s rejection was because they had deliberately chosen works over grace.
- The Gentiles had received the grace of God, and thereby inherited the very blessing the Jews were vainly seeking through their own works (righteousness).
- Reception of Christ is the great test for both Jew and Gentile.
- Salvation could only be by accepting Christ, who is the end of the Law.
- Christ being the criteria opens the door of faith to all those who hear the glad tidings.
- The scriptures establish the first great dispensational change (Jew —> Gentile):
- Israel’s unbelief fulfills scripture (Isa. 53).
- The Gospel going out universally is in keeping with scripture (Psa. 19).
- The Law warned them of God’s provoking them to jealousy (Deut. 32).
- Prophecy explicitly announces Gentiles being brought to God, Israel condemned (Isa. 65).
- The scriptures establish a coming dispensational change (Gentile —> Jew):
- There is always a remnant according to the election of grace (1 Kings 19).
- Their fall was expressly to provoke Israel to jealousy (Psa. 69).
- On the ruin of the Gentile by unbelief, all Israel shall be saved (Isa. 59).
- God’s ways of mercy and wisdom result in a burst of thanksgiving and adoration!
A careful balance. In all these arguments, Paul maintains:
- Man’s Responsibility on the one side and God’s Sovereignty on the other side.
- The New Testament Gospel on one side and Old Testament Prophecies on the other side.