Grace Bible Church of Rolling Meadows

A Dispensational Overview of the Bible

Apr 07, 2024

Presented by John Klasen

Following the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah, through the ministry of Peter and the apostles, the nation of Israel is given an additional year in which to repent of their mistake and to accept Jesus of Nazareth for who he actually was, but with the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7, Israel's one year extension of mercy and forbearance comes to an end, and Israel's prophetic kingdom program is cut off - all in accordance with the parable of the fig tree which Christ had given to his followers in Lk.13:6-9.

Acts goes on to demonstrate the temporary setting aside of the nation of Israel as God raises up the apostle Paul to usher in an entirely new program for the church, the body of Christ, for today.

In Romans, Paul explains how that individual justification is now available to any person, apart from the nation Israel, now that Israel's program has been temporarily cut off. The gospel of the grace of God which Paul explains in Romans 3 is now the only gospel which has the power to save an individual today.

In the book of Romans, we find the five most important verses in the entire Bible for any unsaved person living today.

Romans then goes on to lay the foundation for all doctrine pertaining to the church, the body of Christ, in this present age.

This is part of God's “mystery” program, which had never before been revealed in scripture.

Part 4 - Acts - Romans

This morning I'll be continuing with our dispensational overview of the Bible. This is part four. In part three, we had just begun looking into the book of Acts and noted that we were now moving into that one year extension of mercy and forbearance which the nation Israel was actually prophesied to go through, in Christ's parable of the fig tree, in Luke 13, verses six through nine. The nation of Israel was given one more year to acknowledge the mistake they made in rejecting and crucifying their messiah at his first coming. The nation is going to be given one more year to repent and respond appropriately to get their prophesied kingdom back on track.

We shall see when we get to Acts, chapter seven, Israel's failure to respond appropriately with their final and official rejection of their messiah. The stoning of Stephen, who was God's last messenger to the nation, ultimately resulted in the cutting down of the fig tree and the temporary interruption of Israel's prophesied kingdom program. Let's begin looking into how all that evolved and what happened after that. So turn with me to the book of Acts, chapter one.

Acts, chapter one, verse one. Luke begins writing here, The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach until the day in which he was taken up. After that He, through the Holy Ghost, had given commandments unto the apostles, whom he had chosen, to whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs being seen of them 40 days. And speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which saith He, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Verse five says,Ye shall be baptized by the Holy Ghost not many days hence. As soon as we get into chapter two, we'll see this baptism of the Holy Ghost, which John the Baptist had prophesied would take place way back in Matthew, chapter three and verse eleven. And hence this period of time which we are moving into in these initial chapters of Acts is referred to as the ministry of the Holy Ghost. And that's important. When Peter and the eleven are empowered by the Holy Ghost, their ministry will come to be known as the ministry of the Holy Ghost.

Continuing on here in verse six, when they therefore were come together. They asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? So after 40 days of specific teaching from Christ on things pertaining to the kingdom, this is obviously the number one issue in the thinking of the apostles. There is no question as about whether there was going to be a literal, physical kingdom here on the earth. The only question was in the timing.

They wanted to know when they were going to see it. And knowing all things that are about to take place, the Lord answers that question in the only way in which it can be answered accurately. What does he say in verse seven? And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power, but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in Samaria, and all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. So in verse seven he says, it is not time for you to know the times or the seasons.

At this point, it's very helpful to reflect back on those seven mystery kingdom parables which Christ gave his disciples in Matthew chapter 13. You can't help but come away from those parables and actually many of the other parables which Christ had given them, and not appreciate the fact that Christ has been trying to get them to understand that there is going to be a significant delay in the realization of the kingdom. Now, for anyone who is interested in looking into those parables in great detail, you can do so in a four part series on our website, titled the "Mystery Kingdom Parables of Matthew 13" "Mystery Kingdom Parables of Matthew 13".

But now, getting back to our text, verse eight says, but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you.

Now let me repeat again. This time period which we are moving into in these initial chapters of Acts is referred to as the ministry of the Holy Ghost. And as we shall see, the nation Israel is going to reject. In other words, they are going to blaspheme the ministry of the Holy Ghost to their own demise, just as Christ warned Israel not to do back in Matthew chapter twelve, verses 31 and 32. That warning is commonly referred to as the unpardonable sin. So then, in the verses which follow, the disciples witnessed the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ up into heaven and their kingdom ministry for which Christ had been preparing them for to carry on in his absence. That ministry begins, drop down to verse 15, and in those days, Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples and said the number of names together were about 120. We'll stop there for a minute. What you see here is Peter assuming the role of leadership among the apostles which Christ had given him back in Matthew chapter 16, verse 19. When Christ said that he was going to give to Peter the keys of the kingdom, Christ was giving Peter the role of primary leadership in his absence. And here we see Peter assuming that leadership exactly as he was supposed to. Now, the first order of business is to fulfill the vacancy left by the death of Judas Iscariot, which they do as recorded in the rest of chapter one.

And then when we come to chapter two, the day of Pentecost arrives and the apostles receive the power associated with the ministry of the Holy Ghost which Christ had promised them back in verse eight, chapter one. So we are now beginning that one year extension of mercy and forbearance which was described by Christ in that parable of the fig tree in Luke 13. And the focus of that one year extension of mercy and forbearance. And the ministry of Peter and the eleven is to get the nation of Israel to reconsider what they had done to their messiah and to accept Jesus of Nazareth for who he actually was so that He could return and get their kingdom program back on track. Let's drop down to verse 22 in Acts two where Peter now says, Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. So this is Peter's rebuke to the nation. So what is the nation supposed to do? Now drop down to verse 37. Now, when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as our Lord God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized. And the same day there were added unto them about 3000 souls. So there are a lot of things to unpack in these five verses. Having heard Peter's rebuke, many of his listeners want to know what they need to do now in order to recover from their previous mistake. So Peter tells them what they need to do. In verse 38, he says, be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ.

The people need to accept Jesus of Nazareth for who he was and become members of the little flock through water baptism, just as they were supposed to have done during the ministry of Christ in the gospel accounts. And then in verse 40, we see it says, save yourselves from this untoward generation. The people need to disassociate themselves completely from Israel's vain, apostate religious system, from the apostate religious leaders of the nation, that same group of people that John the Baptist had referred to as a generation of vipers back in Matthew chapter three, verse seven, at the very beginning of Christ's earthly ministry to the nation. And then in verse 41, we read how that some of the people do respond, but the response is not what it should be. Three thousand converts is nice, but as a percentage of the nation, it really doesn't amount to much.

The apostles go on to demonstrate the power and authority given to them by Christ through the working of many signs and wonders, much to the dismay of the religious leadership of the nation. Still, Peter just keeps hammering away on the conscience of the people in Acts chapter 3, verse 14. Peter now says, but ye denied the Holy one and the just and desired a murderer to be granted unto you and killed the prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses. So the things that Peter's pointing out here are all things that are consistent with what the prophets said would happen.

Look at verse 18. But those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. And so Peter just continues pleading with the nation in an appropriate manner. Look at the next verse, verse 19. He says, repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Well, the little flock is gaining followers as these events unfold, but the response is still not what it should be.

Move over into chapter four. We'll look at verse one, And as they spake unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in hold unto the next day. For it was now eventide. The religious leaders are doing everything they can to put a stop to the ministry of Peter and the little flock. These religious leaders in the nation are completely aware of the authoritative powers of the apostles, yet they refuse to respond.

Listen to what those apostate religious leaders knew and understood about Peter and the eleven and what they were saying in verse 16, What shall we do to these men? For that indeed, a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem. And we cannot deny it, but that it spread no further among the people. Let us straightly threaten them that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. So these religious leaders here are referring to a specific miracle that Peter had performed in Acts chapter three, where Peter healed a lame man just outside the temple. Everybody in Jerusalem knew about this. Continuing on in verse 18, and they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Well, does that discourage Peter and the apostles? Not in the least. They know what their mission is. Verse 19, But Peter and John answered and said unto them, whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. They're going to just keep on preaching what they've been preaching and continue to demonstrate their authority to do it by virtue of all manner of signs and wonders, until they eventually do end up being thrown into prison in chapter five. Move on into chapter five and verse twelve, And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest, durst no man joined himself to them, but the people magnified them, and believers were the more added to the Lord. Multitudes, both of men and women, insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities, round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks and them which were vexed with unclean spirits. And they were healed, every one. Pretty impressive displays of power and authority, which could only have been empowered by God and the Holy Ghost. But Israel's religious leaders are still not responding to the ministry of Peter and the apostles. And what do they do? Verse 17 then the high priest rose up and all they that were with him, which is of the sect of the Sadducees, and were filled with indignation and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. So Peter and the eleven are ultimately thrown into prison here.

But these men are functioning in the will and the power of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. And being thrown into prison only adds more credibility to their mission. Look at what happens next. Verse 19, but the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors and brought them forth and said, go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning and taught. These men are miraculously released from prison.

Folks, you've got to understand that these kinds of miracles and miraculous events have been going on for almost a year now. Wouldn't you think that by this time the religious leaders of the nation would come around and endorse the risen Lord Jesus Christ and endorse the ministry of the little flock, lock, stock and barrel, to the whole nation? But they don't. They won't. And the Lord is going to give them one more opportunity to respond, because that one year extension of mercy and forbearance is about to come to an end.

And that final opportunity to respond is provided by Stephen in Acts chapters six and seven. In chapter seven, Stephen stands before the religious leaders of the nation and recounts Israel's history, all the way back to the calling out of Abraham in Genesis, chapter twelve. And as Stephen recounts Israel's history, he points out to them over and over again how that the manner of the nation has always been to rebel against whatever it is that God was trying to do through them. And the point that Stephen is trying to make is that they are still continuing to rebel against what God is doing right now. The whole attitude of Israel's vain, apostate religious system can be summed up in one verse when Stephen says to them in chapter seven, verse 51, he says,ye stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost as your fathers did, so do ye.And with that declaration, these religious leaders become so enraged that they stone Stephen to death. Having blasphemed the ministry of the Holy Ghost, and with that the one year extension of mercy and forbearance has come to an end, and Israel's prophetic kingdom program is cut off, just as it was proposed in the parable which Christ gave to his disciples in Luke chapter 13. The fig tree is now cut down.

Israel's program is now cut off, not permanently, not permanently by any means. It will certainly resume again in the future, but not until the Lord is finished doing what he is now going to do in order to accomplish his purpose for the heavens.

Now there's an interesting account, historical account, of Christ's disciples coming to an understanding of this interruption of their prophetic program in Acts chapter 15. So we'll turn over to Acts chapter 15 and see what happened there, and we'll begin here in verse twelve: Then all the multitude kept silence and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the gentiles by them. So here we have Paul and his partner in ministry at that time, Barnabas. After the interruption of Israel's prophetic kingdom program in Acts chapter seven, the Lord had raised up Saul of Tarsus, later to be called Paul, to usher in an entirely new unprophesied program. And it says in the verse that that program was now being wrought among the Gentiles by Paul. At this point in Acts 15, at least 17 years have elapsed since Christ called out Paul as the apostle of the gentiles in Acts chapter nine.

Let's continue on here in verse 13. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, men and brethren, hearken unto me. So after hearing about this new ministry of Paul's, James is now going to speak for the group, for the disciples, those same disciples that Christ had been training to function in his absence. And here are James conclusions, verse 14, Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name. So Simeon is the apostle Peter here, the same Peter who had taken that role of leadership among the apostles, that role of leadership that had been given to him by Christ in Matthew chapter 16. And what Peter had declared at the first was his report to the other apostles of those strange events which took place during the visit he had made with Cornelius in Acts chapter ten.

That man Cornelius was a gentile, and that meeting with Cornelius was God's demonstration to Peter and to the leaders in Israel's prophetic kingdom program, that God was now going to be dealing with the Gentiles, in an entirely unprecedented manner. The verse said that God was now going to be taking out from the Gentiles a people for his name. Look at verse 15, and to this agree the words of the prophets as it is written. After this I will return and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down, and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.

So James says, after this , after what? After God accomplishes what he is now going to be doing, taking out from among the Gentiles a people for his name through the apostle Paul in this new program among the Gentiles. And then verse 17 goes on to describe blessings going out to all the gentile nations of the world, but not through Paul's ministry, but through the nation of Israel once again, according to the Abrahamic covenant, when Israel's prophetic kingdom program resumes again. But that will be after God finishes what He is currently doing through the ministry of the apostle Paul.

Now, when attempting to understand what's going on throughout the book of Acts, it is extremely helpful, in fact, it's absolutely necessary, to study the things which Paul wrote in Romans chapters 9, 10, and 11. So let's turn there.

These chapters, 9, 10, and 11 are basically a commentary on the book of Acts, which Paul is now able to explain because of the tremendous body of new and progressive revelation which the risen Lord Jesus Christ had given to Paul. Let's start here in verse 25. Romans 11:25: For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits. That blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. The verse saysblindness in part is happened to Israel.

The overwhelming majority of the nation and its religious leaders have remained blinded to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was their prophesied Messiah, and that's why they officially rejected him in Acts chapter seven. But the verse also says, until the fullness of the gentiles be come in ,the nation of Israel will remain blinded and their prophetic kingdom program will remain interrupted until God has finished doing what He is currently doing through Paul among the Gentiles in this new program.

This is precisely what James and the other disciples in Israel's kingdom program came to understand and accept in the verses that we just looked at in Acts chapter 15. A new program has gotten underway, and Paul is the administrator of this new program. Back up in chapter eleven to verse 13 where Paul says, for I speak to you gentiles inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office. So a new program has gotten underway. Paul says,I magnify mine office.Paul understands the importance of what God is doing in this new program through him. This is the program which God has in effect today. And this program will not end until God ends it and resumes his prophetic kingdom program with the nation of Israel once again. So the book of Acts provides the explanation for why God was completely justified in cutting off the nation Israel. Acts chapter 28 ends with Paul stating to the Jews in verse 28, be it known to you, therefore, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles and that they will hear it , Israel would not hear God's message of salvation for themselves, but the Gentiles are going to hear God's message of salvation for themselves.

Now it is impossible to fully understand what's going on in the book of Acts without acknowledging the progressive revelation which Christ gave to Paul. You can literally outline the book of Acts with what Paul has to say here in verses eleven and twelve. Look at what he says in verse eleven: I say, then have they stumbled that they should fall, God forbid, but rather through their fall salvation has come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now, if the fall of them be the riches of the world and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness. So what do we have?

In verse eleven we see the first stumbling of Israel. But Paul says they hadn't fallen yet. When did Israel stumble? Well, they stumbled in the gospel accounts, when they stumbled over the stumbling stone, when they rejected and crucified their messiah is when they stumbled. But they didn't fall at that point because they were given that one year extension of mercy and forbearance in Acts chapter seven, up through Acts chapter seven. Then Paul says that they did fall. When did Israel fall? Israel fell in Acts chapter seven, when they finally and officially rejected their messiah, and said, they will not have this man rule over us. So Israel is cut off, and as a result, salvation apart from Israel, in any way, shape or form, is come unto the Gentiles. Then verse twelve says, we see the diminishing of them. So then, as you study on through the book of Acts, what you see from Acts chapter eight on through to the end of the Book of Acts is the fall of Israel and the cutting off of Israel's prophetic kingdom program, the gradual diminishing of God's dealing with the nation of Israel altogether, and the progressive maturation of God's program for the gentiles and the church, the Body of Christ being administered through the apostle Paul as salvation is now come unto the gentiles.

Now I have to say at this point that one of the three most destructive areas of ignorance, resulting in a failure to understand the reasons for an understanding of the books of the apostle Paul, is a failure to appreciate that Paul is the apostle and administrator of everything that pertains to Christianity today. The other two areas of ignorance, by the way, which plagued the vast majority of what considers itself Christianity today, is believing that the church, the Body of Christ, of this present time began in Acts two on the day of Pentecost, and that the church, the Body of Christ of this present time, has replaced the nation Israel. If you don't get these things straight, you are not going to understand what's going on in the Bible.

So then, after the Book of Acts, we come to the book of Romans, Paul's letter to the church at Rome. And although the Book of Romans is not the first book that Paul wrote, it is the first of Paul's epistles to appear in our bibles. Now why would that be? Well, the explanation is really quite simple. And the explanation is just another demonstration of why the books in our Bible are arranged in the order in which they are arranged. Israel's prophetic kingdom program has been temporarily cut off. And the first question which any man should naturally have would be this. If God is no longer dealing with the nation Israel, how in the world can anyone expect to be saved? How can a man now become justified as an individual in the eyes of God and receive eternal life? This is the most pressing question for any person in any age. Faithful believers back in the Old Testament could achieve righteousness in the eyes of God, functioning under the law through faith and by adherence to the priesthood and the sacrificial system, which were all part of Israel's program, there were things which the faithful believers in Israel's program were instructed to do, to remain in fellowship and to remain in a right relationship with God. That's what the book of Leviticus is all about.

God even made provisions for salvation among the gentiles, those gentiles who were outside of the nation Israel, those people who God had given up on completely way back in Genesis, chapter eleven. All they needed to do was to repent, change their thinking, embrace the God of Israel and become a part of the nation. Remember the book of Ruth? She was the classic example of such a gentile. Gentiles who became part of the nation Israel were called proselytes. So there had always been a provision for individual gentile salvation through the nation of Israel.

But now all that has changed. Israel's program is no longer in effect. So how is a person to be saved? And that is what the book of Romans is all about. There is no question but that the book of Romans is the most important book in the entire Bible for any person living today. The apostle Paul is going to present to all men the progressive revelation that he was given by the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The advanced revelation teaches us that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross not only provided the means by which Israel will one day be able to become the nation that God had always intended for the nation to be through the power of the new covenant, but that Christ's death on the cross has also opened the door for any and all men to be saved, apart from anything having to do with the nation Israel. Now that is something that was absolutely unheard of up until this time.

But now the book of Romans explains how this salvation can be received by anyone who will accept it. In Paul's introduction, in Romans chapter one, Paul establishes the fact that he has been called and separated out by Christ unto a different program and that he has a different message and that he has a different commission than anything that has been going on prior to this.

These differences are all based on the progressive revelation about the death and the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, which had been given to Paul personally by the risen Lord Jesus Christ. In Romans chapter one, Paul begins to establish the details of the gospel of the grace of God which has been committed by Christ unto him. Paul goes on to explain that this gospel which has been committed unto him is the gospel which now has the power to save a person today, and that this will be by grace through faith alone. Paul will get into the specifics of this and so will we in chapter three. Now, in Romans chapter one, verses 19 and 20, Paul establishes two things that God has put into the thinking of every person who has ever lived.

Number one, that there is indeed a God and creator of everything that man can see and appreciate. And number two that every man is going to be accountable to that creator. Let's look at those verses. Romans chapter one and verses 19 and 20, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it unto them for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead.

There are men who will spend their entire lives attempting to convince themselves and others that this is not so, through denial or by repression or by whatever psychological gymnastics or techniques it takes to do so. But at some point in their lives, every person inherently knew that these things are true. Then in Romans chapter one, verses 21 and following, you have God's commentary on Genesis chapter eleven on why God gave up on the gentile nations prior to the calling out of Abraham as the father of the nation Israel. In Romans two, Paul establishes the principles of God's righteous judgment and the fact that a righteous and holy God has no choice but to judge sin. In verses five and six, it speaks of God who will render to every man according to his deeds. Then the verses which follow, describe what God will render to every man according to his deeds. Let's look at verse seven, chapter two,To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.If someone is able to continuously demonstrate patient continuance and well doing throughout the entire course of their life, their fate will be glory, honorable immortality and eternal life. That sounds good. But the problem is that no one ever has or ever will actually do this, except, of course, for the Lord Jesus Christ, because every person who has ever lived has sin in their lives and therefore comes short of the glory of God. Paul establishes in Romans chapter three that there is now no difference between the Jew and the Gentile, and that both the Jew and the Gentile are now subject to the same principles of God pertaining to righteousness and judgment. By the time you get to Romans three, Paul has clearly established that there is no one who is righteous in the eyes of God. Adam failed. All the gentile nations of the world had failed, and God had given up on them back in Genesis chapter eleven, and the nation of Israel has failed. Turn with me to Romans chapter three and verse nine, Paul says, what then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise. For we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin. As it is written, there is none righteous. No, not one. Verse ten declares to all men that in the eyes of God there is no one who is righteous. No, not one. And then God goes on to amplify that with some additional details and examples in verses eleven through 18. Now drop down to verse 19. It says, now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God. Now, Paul is not even considering here those 613 additional laws which God had given specifically to the nation Israel just to make them different. Those laws are not even in view here. Paul is simply referring to the basic moral laws of the original ten Commandments. Israel could not keep those commandments, and neither can any man keep those commandments to perfection, except for the one man, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so all the world is guilty before God, both the Jews and the Gentiles. Continuing on in verse 20, therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. For by the law is the knowledge of sin. Verse 19 declared how that the law renders every man guilty before God, because no one has ever been able to keep the law. Verse 20 declares here how that the inability to keep the law is defined as sin. So all men are sinners, and the penalty for sin is death. Now back in chapter two and verses six and seven, as we saw, God had clearly established that if any man would have been able to keep the law perfectly and continually, then that man would have righteousness in the eyes of God and that that man would be given glory, honor, immortality and eternal life. And again, the problem is that no man has ever been able to do that except for the Lord Jesus Christ.

So every man who has not patiently continued doing good throughout the course of his entire life is destined to receive the indignation, the wrath, the tribulation, and the anguish upon their souls, which is described in Romans chapter two, verses eight and nine, or what scripture refers to as eternal death, separation from God, eternal death as a result of their inability to keep the law, eternal death as a result of their sin. And that is every man's problem. Verse 20 also says, though by the law is the knowledge of sin, so what the law actually does, the only good thing that the law does for us is to point out to a person how that they fall short of God's standards of righteousness. And that is the dismal state that all men are faced with today.

Now we have come to what are unquestionably the five most important verses in the Bible for all of mankind at this time. If a person today could have only one book in all the Bible, he would want that book to be the book of Romans. And if you could only have one chapter in the book of Romans, it would be this chapter, chapter three. And if you could only have five verses in all of chapter three, it would be these next five verses. Verse 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.

But now , now there has been a profound change in what God is doing and in what God has provided for all of mankind at this time. And God is now making these things known to us through the apostle Paul. Now that salvation is no longer possible through Israel's prophetic kingdom program. This is exactly what men need to know and understand. Now the verse says, the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.The righteousness of God, independent of the law, is now being made known to us. There is righteousness in the eyes of God which is now available and which now has nothing to do with Israel or the law. And who is this righteousness available to? Let's continue on in verse 22, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Verse 22 says that this righteousness is unto all. This righteousness is available unto all. Now, does this mean that God is going to save every man and woman? No, that's not what it means. It means that this righteousness is now available unto every man and woman. Verse 22 goes on to say, upon all them that believe , so this righteousness will come upon only them that believe. This righteousness is available unto all of mankind, but it will come upon only that believe. Verse 23 says, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. This is simply a repeat of what we saw in the same chapter, verses 10 through 20. The basic problem that all men have, that every person who has ever lived, is a sinner and is in need of a savior. So then what happens to them that believe? Well, we see in the next verse, verse 24, that those who believe are being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Being justified is being made righteous in the eyes of God and therefore becoming a recipient of eternal life and blessing from God. But that's not all that God says about this justification. It says being justified freely, freely, meaning that there is no cost to the recipient. It is a free gift, a free gift from God. Folks, you can't get much better news than this.

But it goes on to say, being justified freely by his grace. And thus this good news, this gospel has come to be known as the Gospel of the Grace of God. But it also goes on to say how this can be so, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ has redeemed us. What is redemption? Redemption is simply paying the price to buy something back. And now we find out through this progressive revelation which has now been given to the apostle Paul, that Jesus of Nazareth did not die on the cross just to pay the price for the sins of the nation Israel, and thereby provide the means through which Israel is to become the nation that Israel was intended to be, but that Christ was also working out a plan through which all of mankind can now be saved apart from Israel and apart from the law. In this new program, Christ paid the price that needed to be paid to redeem us from a destiny of eternal damnation consisting of indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish upon our souls throughout all eternity. Christ is the only one who could have done this. Christ paid the price. What was the price? The price we see in verse 25 was his blood. His death was the price. Let's read the verse whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed through the forbearance of God. The verse says,whom God has set to be a propitiation. Big word. What is a propitiation? A propitiation is a fully satisfying payment. And this verse goes on to explain quite clearly what it is that those who are going to receive this righteousness of God must believe in order to receive it. And it says, it is faith in his blood , faith in his death. To have faith in something is to believe in something. A person needs to believe that the blood of Christ, his death, accomplished exactly what God says it accomplished. And God says that Christ's death accomplished the redemption in verse 24 and that it accomplished the satisfactory payment, the propitiation, according to the justice of God here in verse 25. And as we see here in verse 25, it is our faith, our belief in his blood, our belief in his substitutionary death for us that is able to give us the forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of God which we so desperately need and cannot obtain by any other means.

The question which has to be asked now is this, are there any other requirements for justification found in this verse? And the answer is that there are none. The way in which a person receives the righteousness of God and eternal life is by faith, by trusting in Christ's death for their sins, and in that alone, adding absolutely nothing else to it.

As I said before, there is no question but that the book of Romans is the most important book in the entire Bible for people living today, and that there is no question that chapter three is the most important chapter in the book of Romans, and that these five verses, verses 21 through 25, are the five most important verses that any person living today could ever come to know and understand.

Paul continues to lay out doctrinal information which is foundational for any believer living in this current age. The first eight chapters of the Book of Romans have all come to be known as the basic doctrinal section of Romans, and they provide absolutely critical foundational information for anyone living in this current age. I zeroed in on some of those verses in Romans three and explained them verse by verse in some detail because of their importance to any person living in this current age. But critically important doctrinal issues pertaining to any believers living in this current age continue on through chapter eight, and then even beyond chapter eight when you get into chapter twelve throughout the end of the book. Now, you could outline this very important book of Romans in many different ways, but I'm going to subdivide these basic doctrinal issues in Romans one through eight into three basic categories: Category one would be from Romans 1:1 to Romans 3:20, where we deal with the doctrine of condemnation, the basic problem of sinful man, and how that all men have failed and that they have no hope of saving themselves from eternal damnation and separation from God, a just and holy God who has no alternative but to judge sin. Then the second category would be, as we saw beginning in Romans 3:21, how that God has provided a solution for man's problem through the substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, and that simply by trusting in what he has done, we can achieve righteousness in the eyes of God. Now these issues of justification and righteousness in the eyes of God by God's grace through faith are explained with a little more detail on through chapter four. And then the third category. The third section would be when we get into Romans chapter five through eight, and we learn how that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ has provided for us far more than simply salvation from hell, but how that Christ's resurrection life has now provided the means through which our lives as Christians might demonstrate the kind of life any Christian should be demonstrating.

And this third section also teaches the believer about eternal security, the eternal security which he or she has in Christ the moment they become saved, by trusting in Christ and in Christ alone for salvation. So you could break down the basic doctrinal issues in Romans one through eight into these three broad divisions. Then the rest of the book of Romans could be divided into two additional sections. The fourth section would be Romans chapters nine through eleven, what we call the dispensational section, where Paul breaks away from doctrinal issues pertaining to Christians in this current age, and Paul answers those questions which would naturally arise concerning the nation Israel. We looked at some of those verses. It's as if someone comes up to Paul at this point and says, Paul, if everything you have said is true through Romans one to eight. If that's all true, what about Israel's program? What about Israel's covenants and all the promises? What about the promises that he made to Israel? Well, Paul addresses all those issues in Romans 9, 10, and 11. And of course we looked at some of those, but we saw also how that is really impossible to understand what was going on in the book of Acts without this information from Paul. And then finally, that fifth category, fifth section would be in Romans chapters 12 through 16, where we learn about how the doctrinal principles in Romans 1 through 8 are supposed to translate into the life of a believer and into the assemblies of believers in this current age.

Romans provides a foundation for all the rest of the books written by Paul, and Romans provides the foundational doctrines which are necessary for every believer living in this current age. Now, I hope that you can appreciate from everything I've said so far why the book of Romans is the first of Paul's letters to appear in our Bibles, even though Romans was not the first book which Paul wrote. Romans contains all this critically important information which mankind needs to know now, following the cutting off of Israel's prophetic kingdom program. But then there are twelve more epistles, twelve more letters by Paul written for us today. And what we find is that none of these twelve epistles are in the order in which they are written.

However, there is a very important reason for the order in which they appear in our Bibles. The order in which Paul's other epistles appear in our Bibles are very much designed to enhance the edification process and the maturity of the believer. And that's what we'll get into the next time. In part five.