Heidelcast For Sep 24, 2023: Sin, Salvation, & Service: The Threefold Truth Of Romans (35)

In this episode Dr Clark turns to Romans 9:25–33 as Paul answers the question: why is it that not many Jews have put their trust in Jesus the Messiah? He answers a text asking whether laity should read texts from problematic authors (e.g., N. T. Wright, Richard Baxter et al.)? He answers a call from David asking about which churches confess the Scots and French confessions. He answers a question from Peter about what Ursinus means by “improperly” and an email from Chris about recommended editions of the Westminster Standards. The opening audio comes from the Sub Beacon podcast.

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    • Hi Jan,

      Thanks for listening. I worked on this question in the earlier episodes of the series, on Rom 4.

      What does God’s Word say about where Abraham was when God called him:

      Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there (Genesis 11:31; ESV).

      Ur of the Chaldees was about 250 miles SE of present day Bagdhad, Iraq. In contemporary terms, Abraham was Iraqi before he was a Jew. He was a pagan. God graciously came to that pagan and called him to new life and true faith and then called him to make a pilgrimage to Canaan.

      Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb (Genesis 12:1-9; ESV).

      It’s true that Abraham is the father of the Jews but there were no Jews until Abraham was circumcised, unless we’re going to call all the inhabitants of Ur of the Chaldees “Jews,” which 1) doesn’t make a lot of sense; 2) isn’t what Scripture says, Scripture requires us to say that Abraham became a Jew when he was circumcised.

      Lest you think I’m making up things, this is what Paul says:

      Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised (Romans 4:9-12; ESV).

      According to the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit, Abraham was a Gentile (uncircumcised, which is how Paul regularly refers to Gentiles, e.g. Phil 3) when he was given new life (regenerated) and true faith. Hence he is the father of both Jewish believers and Gentile believers. The point of the contrast is to say to the Judaizers, who wanted to exclude Gentiles from the church or to impose upon them the ceremonial laws, “Stop. Your father Abraham was a Gentile before he was a Jew” and to the Gentiles, “You don’t need to be ashamed of being a Gentile. Abraham is your father too and he was a Christian just like you.”

      I hope this helps.

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