Tuesday, January 9, 2018

God's Word Was Not Given To You, You Were Given To God's Word!

     Sometimes Christians are not careful enough in our study of God's Word, causing us to sometimes miss important gems of profound truth. Such is the case in Romans 6.17, where Paul writes in the last half of the verse, “...but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”
     The wording here is a little rough for most of us to easily understand with caution, but attention to two phrases will greatly clarify what Paul is saying. When he refers to obeying from the heart, he is contrasting in the minds of his Roman Christian readers the difference between someone who is depending upon Christ for his salvation and someone who is depending upon the Law of Moses to give him standing before God.
     Later on, in Romans Paul will point out that “with the heart, man believeth unto righteousness.” Paul’s Jewish opponents were depending on mental and intellectual responses to the dictates of the Law to merit salvation, not a genuine relationship with the Savior, which is an issue of the heart. So, Paul’s Gospel is superior to the Law in that while it is certainly not anti-intellectual, it is not only intellectual. 
     Paul’s Gospel has to do with the entire being of the believer, not just your intellect and not just your will. What are the implications of this reality? There are two: 
     First, you are not a Christian just because you decided to become a believer. Remember, the miracle of the new birth has to take place for someone to be born again, and no one tells God when to work a miracle. 
     Second, you are not a believer just because you embrace as true the facts of the Gospel. Remember again, the miracle of the new birth has to take place. 
     That said, the Jewish person might still see salvation apart from the Law as opening up the opportunity for lawlessness. He would think that no longer being under the Law meant no structure, no guidelines, and no direction in the Christian life. That would be spiritual anarchy! And no doubt he would liken salvation by grace apart from the Law to the only other situation he had ever seen in his life without the Law . . . the Gentiles. And what sinfulness they exhibited. 
     The next phrase has to do with “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Pick up a commentary and you will see a great deal of discussion about this phrase. If it’s a good commentary, that is. Let me summarize what Paul is trying to get across to his readers at this point. 
     Though the word order is somewhat difficult to follow, Paul is pointing out to his readers that no sinner come to Christ has been left without guidance and direction after having come to know Christ and not being under the Law. We who are come to Christ have been delivered to an authoritative body of truth which should guide our lives. 
     But note that our verse says believers were delivered to “that form of doctrine.” Notice. It was not that form of doctrine which was delivered to believers. God’s Word has not been given to us! We have been given to God’s Word, so that we might conform to it as Jell-O to a mold, conforming us to the image of Christ.
     This speaks to a serious problem among Christians today. So many professing believers do not understand that God’s Word has authority over them and that we have been delivered to Scripture so that we will be conformed by God’s Word to Jesus Christ.