Thesis:The most significant impact of information is the mindset that it produces.
Introduction:In our studies of Romans 11 we have been constantly confronted with the tensions that exist because of the integrity of God's promises and the attitudes that men have toward Him in their particular place under that integrity. In the beginning there was a "God" and a "creation" that had at least some sense of what those terms meant. However long that lasted, it eventually disintegrated into a competition over who gets to be the "God". This is ridiculous on the face of it. God could not stop being "God" even if He was inclined to stop; and creatures could not be "gods" even if they were a trillion times smarter and more powerful than they are. The consequence is the mess with which we live on a daily basis, and which is observably moving in the direction of greater and greater messiness.
However, there is yet "hope". Paul wrote Romans to confront his readers with the reality of the ridiculousness of attempting to compete with God and to give them a "method" of escape.
In our current text we have the issues of these tensions presented with a significant degree of clarity. After having explained the issues of the Large Plan of God for Life in terms of the dangers of pitting pride against grace, Paul just comes right out and declares that we are the ones who need to "adjust". God's grace-gifts and calling are not going to change. Period. We are the ones who need to change, and there is a significant "Life" to be had if we are amenable to this necessity.
The bottom line is this:thisPaul wrote Romans to impart a detailed explanation of the Gospel of God for the sake of those who would believe him. In one sense, we can say this: the most significant impact of information is the mindset that it produces.
I. The Issues Paul Confronts.
A. The potent antagonism of Israel to the Gospel.
1. The identification of Israel as "enemies" (a term only used three times in Romans).
a. In the context of 5:10 we were given a picture of what it means to be an "enemy".
1) 5:6 says that the "enemies" of verse ten were "driven antagonists" in the sense of having no resistance to ungodliness.
2) 5:8 goes further and says that the "enemies" were "sinners", a concept that was first given in Romans in 3:5-7 as being "those who delight in attacking others" ("unrighteous", yet seeking to escape "blame").
3) 5:9-10 uses the term itself in respect to "wrath" as the reaction of an "enemy" to an "enemy".
b. In the context of 12:20 we are told how we are supposed to respond to our "enemies".
c. The "problem" for the Romans in 12:20 is resolved in our text.
1) The "problem" is that the "enemies" get to have things their way and the believer does not.
2) The "solution" is to see the "enemies" as "beloved".
2. The identification of the enmity with "the Gospel".
a. The issue of Jew/Gentile is, on one level, simply racism operating under the excuse of religions in conflict.
b. The issue on a deeper level is, however, deeply personal for the Jew.
1) The "Gospel" was understood by the Jew as a sharp attack upon his "spiritual status" (it made him out to be a sinner worthy of the wrath of God instead of the exalted child of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who was destined to inherit the Kingdom of Eternity).
2) The "Gospel" was going to "those undeserving Gentiles" and imparting to them a quality of serenity in life that was supposed to be the exclusive possession of "Jews" and that was stirring up waves of jealousy in the hearts of the Jews.
3) The "Gospel" was a message of God's independence from the "control" of men so that the Jews could not be the ones to determine who got what from God.
B. The potent commitment of God to the "fathers".
1. The identity of Israel as "beloved".
a. The term indicates a persistence in the one "loving" that refused to be "put off" by any level of enormity of rebellion (Israel has a future with God).
b. The term in Romans has its roots in 8:37 where we are "more than conquerors" in that this "love" will not be denied.
2. The reason for the "love" as given: the "fathers".
a. What this boils down to is this: God made some promises to "the fathers" and He is going to fulfill them regardless of any and all opposition by any person, Jew or Gentile.
b. This does not annul the personal element in God's love for Israelites, but it does give it a larger context and it explains why He has been willing to honor the rebellion of the Jews to the degree that He has.
3. The justification of this "love" is the "impenitence of God".
a. His "arena" of impenitence is two-fold: the grace-gifts and the calling.
b. The root of His impenitence is His own identity (how does an all-knowing, all-wise, omnipotent person make a dumb decision?).
II. The Reason for Paul's Confrontation.
A. All information exists for the impact that it makes on those being "informed" by it.
B. All information makes an impact on those being "informed".
C. This information was designed by God to halt the flawed reactions of His people to their "enemies".