Summary of Dr. Thomas L. Constable’s Notes on Romans p. 142-158

Moving into the practical section of Romans, we find how we are to put God’s righteousness into practice. In comparison with chapters 1-11 with chapters 12-16 we see that the first half deals with God actions for humanity, while the second half has to do with humanity’s actions in response to God. In 12:1-2 we find the need for dedication to God. It is out of our relationship with God that we become dedicated to Him for service. Dr. Constable suggests that ‘dedication’ is not required for salvation. He explains that dedication to the Lordship of Christ is not imperative to obtain salvation. Dedication is said to be voluntary on the part of the believer. This view by Dr. Constable is plausible; however, the wording is somewhat confusing. My personal assessment is that ‘submission’ to the Lordship of Christ is necessary for salvation. One must recognize His Lordship and repent of his or her sin, thus submitting to Christ as Lord. However, when it comes to serving Christ, the believer must continually submit to His Lordship by dedicating his or her self to a life of service. One can be a Christian without living a dedicated life; however, (contrary to Dr. Constable) one cannot be a Christian without being dedicated to Christ as Lord of all. In 12:3-8, Paul begins his teaching on spiritual gifts. He explains that there is a diversity of gifts, each given to individuals by the Holy Spirit’s choosing. These gifts do not reflect the worth of an individual, rather, God’s call of service upon their life. Paul gives a list of seven gifts that are all used within the body of Christ for its members’ mutual benefit. 12:9-21 places the emphasis on love. There is to be a love for fellow believers and love expressed to all of mankind. Paul gives practical instruction on how to love in Romans 12.
Chapter 13 of Romans has to do with the believer’s conduct within human government. This is a natural flow that begins in chapter 12 concerning how a Christian should live in this world. Christians are not a nation of themselves as is the case with Israel. Therefore, Christians are compelled to submit to the government of which they are under. Those authorities are put in place by God. To rebel against the authority is to rebel against God. Obedience is not in view here. Submission and obedience are two different things. Christians may not be able to obey all the laws of the land. However, if there is a law that a Christian cannot obey, he or she must willingly submit to the consequences of refusing to obey without argument. One example of this would be of the account of Daniel in the lion’s den. Daniel could not obey the law of the land, however, he quietly submitted to the government and consequences of the law. In 13:8-10 we see admonishment concerning our conduct toward unbelievers. We are to be good citizens, keeping our debts paid up and being respected even among nonbelievers. Paul ends this chapter with a focus on the return of Christ. It is because of the hope that we have before us, that we are compelled to live a life of obedience. We must have our eyes on the sky, looking for the return of Christ, while at the same time living a life pleasing to God on this earth.

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