Romans: God's Plans Don't Change.
Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change. He is never surprised by anything, and His promises hold true from beginning to end.
It is a common misconception that God was different in the Old Testament than in the New, or that salvation was obtained differently then compared to now. The truth is that God planned to send Jesus to save us from day one.
Let’s take a look at Genesis 3:13-15:
“The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ So the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’’
It is Jesus who crushed the serpent’s head. God prophesied from the moment the problem of sin arose on earth that He would send a Savior, and that Savior was always going to be Jesus.
As we just read last week, God sent the Law not as a means to salvation but rather to make us aware of our need for salvation. So even those who followed the Lord in the Old Testament and tried their best to adhere to His Law sinned and were saved by faith rather than works. The blood of Christ covers their sins just as it covers ours.
In the Old Testament, when kings are introduced, it is either said of them that they went their own way or that they were a king after God’s heart. It’s evidence that God has always been interested in our heart and devotion to Him rather than expecting the perfect execution of His commandments that He knew we could not offer. Even our best attempts to honor God will be tainted by sin, but God counts our faith in Him as righteousness. What great news! His grace towards us is unending!
Certainly, Paul’s audience would have wondered about these things. They grew up learning about the great forefathers of the faith such as Abraham. They would’ve known and honored their character and devotion to God. They probably assumed these forefathers were at least partially saved because of their adherence to the Law. But Paul sets them straight.
He explains the truth with many references to the Old Testament. Why? The Jewish believers in Rome respected the Old Testament as Scripture and truth. Paul was proving that His message of salvation through faith for all was biblical, that is was God’s plan.
God is certainly not unfaithful. He has not changed His mind. This is not His second attempt to save us. He knew what He was going to do all along but we, His people, needed the journey. We needed to see that we could not save ourselves, not led by patriarchs, kings, or clouds, not with the Law in hand, nor after being exiled and restored. We simply can’t do it ourselves. And we needed to know that. We needed to see it.
The story of the Old Testament, then, is not God’s first attempt to throw us a life preserver. It was meant for us. It was meant for us to see that we cannot rescue ourselves.
In this week’s chapters, Paul first explains how Abraham was saved the same way that we are saved: through faith. Then, he draws a parallel between Adam and Christ. Sin entered the world through Adam, and salvation entered the world through Jesus. These chapters, like many of Paul’s writings, take a little brain power to understand but are so full of great truth and will fill our hearts with all of what God has done to save us. He crafted a perfect plan to bring us back into right relationship with Him. All praise be to God!
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God's plan of salvation is grand and has been the same from the beginning of time. From the moment sin entered the world, God announced His plan to save us. A long journey was ahead, but, in the end, we will all spend eternity with God in heaven because of His grace and despite our sin.
This was true of Abraham as well. Even during the Old Testament, works did not save those who loved God. Circumcision did not save the people of God. The Law did not save them. Instead, it made them aware of the need for salvation. It has always been faith that saves us.
This faith is credited to us as righteousness. It is given to us, though we are undeserving. Think of a bank account with nothing but debt that you could never repay. If someone came along and credited you the amount of your debt, not because you earned it but simply out of grace, wouldn't you rejoice? You did not deserve this money. It was simply credited to you. So it is with our righteousness! We did not work for it or earn it. It was simply credited to us because of the great love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But there is more. Instead of $0 balance, you find that you have been given millions of additional dollars as well. Suddenly, you went from being in over your head in debt to being in over your head in blessings.
Paul gives this impression as he explains the parallel between Adam and Christ. Through one man came sin, and through one man came salvation. The two are similar in that sense. God's grace and the gift of salvation, however, are so much greater than sin. They do more than simply cancel one another out. God's actions are greater than any wrong we can do. Do you hear me? God is bigger than your mistakes.
What, then, is this extra “money” that we are credited? It comes in the form of blessings such as peace and hope. Now that we are in a right relationship with God, we have hope even in suffering. We know that God is bigger than any of our challenges and that He tirelessly works to grow our faith and bring us closer to Him. We rejoice, knowing that God is in charge and that we are well taken care of as His children.
God's love for us is great. Jesus Christ died for us in the middle of our sin. It is rare that one would die for another person but incredible that one would die for sinners. Most of us struggle to forgive those who have wronged us. We have wronged God over and over with sin and unbelief. Yet, Christ died for us in the middle of that sin.
His blood justifies us and saves us from God's wrath. We were once enemies of God. Now, we are His family. We are reconciled with our Creator. What an incredible gift salvation is! Thank you, Jesus, forever and ever!