All Together Now

The legend of the founding of Rome tells us about two twins who fell out.

The Hk Photo Company 6Gq7v2l5ipa Unsplash

There could hardly be a closer relationship than that of twins – they not only share the same parents, but they share the same womb at the same time. Yet, Romulus and Remus, although naturally so close, were divided. It is interesting to see that when Paul writes to the Romans, he shows that the gospel takes things that naturally are divided and brings them together. Here are some examples:

Jew and Gentile

The Jews were God’s chosen people, yet they were chosen to spread the knowledge of the true God, not horde it. Their special privilege led to them being insular. Paul shows that the gospel brings Jews and Gentiles together.

In the first few chapters he shows that Jews and Gentiles are united in guilt: “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin” (Romans 3:9).

He shows that Jews and Gentiles are united in grace: “Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (Romans 3:29-30); “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:12-13).

He shows as well that Jews and Gentiles are brought together in glory: “and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles” (Romans 9:23-24).

We find then in chapter 16 that as a result of the truth of the gospel, converted Jews and Gentiles are working together in happy harmony. The gospel has broken down racial prejudice in a way nothing else can. It still does that. Racism is a contradiction of the message of the gospel, and anyone who thinks himself to be superior based on his ethnicity needs to repent and believe the gospel.

Rich and poor

The rich often thought they were blessed materially because they were better people. They gloried in their status and thought others were of less value. The gospel shows that blessing doesn’t come through our merits: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that everyone is valued by God: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In light of this, we find the rich and the poor working together as equals – when Paul passes on greetings in chapter 16 he says, “Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother” (v. 23). Erastus was obviously an important figure with a high-powered job, while Quartus seems to be a slave name – number four, and yet, they are brought together by the gospel. The gospel eliminates class distinctions in a way nothing else can, and brings the rich and poor together.

Grace and righteousness

I had a conversation with a couple of Muslim men some time ago and told them I had been reading through the Qur’an but had a problem. They were eager to help, and I told them that my problem was that the Qur’an presents Allah as being righteous and merciful. They agreed with that and asked what the difficulty was. I told them my difficulty was that I couldn’t see how both those things could be true. If Allah is righteous then sin gets punished, but if he’s merciful then the sinner goes free. They saw the problem, and we tried out the different attempts they had to answer it, but we all agreed the problem remained unresolved. Then they turned it on me and said, “But you’re a Christian, so do you not believe that God is righteous and merciful?” I assured them I did believe that. “Well then,” they said, “You have the same problem.” But I explained to them that the gospel has the answer. The answer is the cross. At the cross we see that God doesn’t turn a blind eye to sin. He shows that sin is serious and must be paid for, but He shows how gracious He is, by stepping in Himself in the person of the Son to pay it for us: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God has passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26).

The gospel is the only message that presents a God who can save sinners without compromising His righteousness. He doesn’t show grace at the expense of justice, but at the expense of Jesus.

God and man

Sin has separated man from God, and there is nothing we can do to bridge the divide or remove the barrier, but the gospel says, “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). God has made it possible for sinners to be brought into a real relationship with Him, and to enjoy the friendship and fellowship we were created to enjoy.

You don’t have to remain a stranger to God.

There’s a way back to God

From the dark paths of sin;

There’s a door that is open

And you may go in.

At Calvary’s cross is where you begin,

When you come as a sinner to Jesus.