TODAY’S READING: Romans 4–7
Whenever Abraham is mentioned as father, it is in reference to God promising him that he would be the father of many nations, that in his seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed. When David is referenced, it is in view of his seed being the Messiah (God made man) who will rule over all nations. This is why Matthew began his Gospel linking Jesus to Abraham and David, and this is why Paul, after establishing that all have sinned but all peoples can be represented in heaven, now points to faith as being the key for all peoples of the world (Rom. 4:13). Paul oozes missions all throughout Romans.
Not wavering at the promises of God, being fully convinced that what God has promised He is able to perform are direct missionary realities (v. 20). Paul mentioned again Abraham being the father of many nations (vv. 17, 19) and underlined that Abraham had faith that God was able to bring all peoples to Himself despite extraordinary physical challenges. We should read Romans 4 to 7 with the clear light of context: No matter the physical challenges, let us have faith that God will bring representatives of all peoples to Himself. They will come, Jew and Gentile, just as we come—by faith in Jesus.
Paul emphasized in Romans the universality (obedience to the faith of all nations) of the gospel, using the plural to denote all the peoples of earth: We have peace with God; we glory in tribulations; while we were still sinners Christ died; we shall be saved from wrath; for when we were enemies, we were reconciled; we also rejoice in God; death spread to all men; the grace of God…abounded to many; and many will be made righteous (5:1, 3, 8–12, 15, 19). The plurality and universality Paul intentionally established should be how we read Romans. We are not supposed to read or understand this beautiful theology outside Paul’s clear intention that it speaks for all men of every tribe and tongue.
Sin not having dominion over “you” is not a personal promise then (though we certainly can and should apply it that way); it is a corporate missionary promise. Sin will not have dominion over Algerians! Sin will not have dominion over Somalis! Sin will not have dominion over North Koreans! Jesus is the Savior of the world, and the death of Jesus on the cross has the power to save men from every tribe. There is no people of earth who sin and who Satan will so terrorize that they are not well represented in heaven. Sin shall not have dominion over the peoples of earth—Jesus shall reign.
And yes, slaves of God under His beautiful and unending dominion of all peoples must certainly start in individuals. Each man and woman must be personally delivered. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord that the beautiful and diverse body of God will be assembled one by one into a holy nation, with every one of Abraham’s colorful children represented.