New Testament Lesson 34 (Romans 7–16)
WE ARE HEIRS OF GOD
Children of God
● The nature of our relationship to God the Father (Romans 8:14–16; Galatians 3:26–29; Galatians 4:1–7).
— Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “Consider the power of the idea taught in our beloved song ‘I Am a Child of God’ (Hymns, 301). . . . Here is the answer to one of life’s great questions, ‘Who am I?’ I am a child of God with a spirit lineage to heavenly parents. That parentage defines our eternal potential. That powerful idea is a potent antidepressant. It can strengthen each of us to make righteous choices and to seek the best that is within us. Establish in the mind of a young person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God, and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life.”1
Joint-heirs with Christ
● Christ is an heir to all things that the Father has (John 16:15).
● If we are God’s children, then we are joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17–18).
— Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “A joint-heir is one who inherits equally with all other heirs including the Chief Heir who is the Son. Each joint-heir has an equal and an undivided portion of the whole of everything. If one knows all things, so do all others. If one has all power, so do all those who inherit jointly with him. If the universe belongs to one, so it does equally to the total of all upon whom the joint inheritances are bestowed.”2
● What blessings will we receive from the father?
— All that the Father has will be ours. (D&C 84:33–39).
— We will be made equal with Christ. (D&C 88:107).
— If we keep the commandments we will receive all things. (D&C 93:19–23, 27–28).
● What we will inherit: (D&C 76:54–59).
— All things the Father has (v. 55).
— Become priests and kings (priestesses and queens) (v. 56).
— Receive a fulness of God’s glory (v. 56).
— Become gods, because we are the children of God (v. 58).
— We will be gods, with all things subject unto us (D&C 132:20).
● Who will inherit these things:
— Those who have a testimony of Jesus Christ (D&C 76:40–53).
— Those who are baptized.
— Those who are confirmed members of the Church.
— Those who overcome all things by faith.
ELECTED BEFORE THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD
Foreordination, Not Predestination
● All creation anticipates a future day of redemption and glory (Romans 8:18–23).
● Knowing our foreordained or intended destiny helps us bear tribulation (Romans 8:28–31).
— “Predestinate” appears four times in the Bible (though the word predestination does not occur at all) (v. 29). There is nothing in the Greek implying loss of agency; the word literally means “to determine [our potential destiny] beforehand.” The word “foreordain” more aptly describes the concept.
— All things that occur in our lives will work together for one’s ultimate blessing (v. 28). A similar promise has been given in our own dispensation (D&C 90:24).
● Nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31, 35–39).
The Doctrine of Election
● We were chosen in the premortal existence. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “This election to a chosen lineage is based on pre-existent worthiness and is thus made `according to the foreknowledge of God.”3
● “Chosen-ness” implies obligation and accountability, not a guaranteed place in heaven. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The whole of [Romans 9] had reference to the priesthood and the house of Israel; and unconditional election of individuals to eternal life was not taught by the Apostles. God did elect or predestinate, that all those who would be saved, should be saved in Christ Jesus, and through obedience to the Gospel; but He passes over no man’s sins, but visits them with correction, and if His children will not repent of their sins He will discard them.”4
● Jacob was chosen over Esau before they were even born (Romans 9:9–14).
— “Hated” is used here to translate a Greek verb that also means “displeased with” or “rejected” (v. 13). The Lord did not hate Esau. Rather, the Lord’s preferential regard for one over the other is based on their righteousness in premortal life.
The Times of the Gentiles
● Paul was emphatic in his love for the Jewish people, but because the Jews rejected Christ, they forfeited great blessings (Romans 9:1–5).
● The Gentiles accepted the gospel and were adopted into the house of Israel (Romans 9:6–8).
— “They are not all Israel [spiritually], which are of Israel”—that is, not every covenant child will behave like a worthy Israelite (v. 6).
THE JEWS’ LOST OPPORTUNITY
● Paul used the analogy of the potter and the clay to emphasize God’s omnipotence and sovereignty in dealing with man (Romans 9:16–21). Of course, God is perfectly just and merciful and our own actions produce the result.
● Our lineages were chosen in pre-mortality (Romans 9:23–24), but . . .
— Our lineage does not determine our salvation (Romans 9:24–29).
● The stumbling stone for the Jews was Jesus Christ (Romans 9:32–33).
— “Their own righteousness” was Judaism. “The righteousness of God” was the gospel (Romans 10:1–3).
● Israel rejected God, not the other way around; a righteous remnant remains (Romans 11:1–9).
— Wot is the present tense of the now obsolete English word wit, which means “to know” (v. 2).
— Wist is its past tense. Paul is asking, “Know you not?”.
● Magnifying the priesthood (Romans 11:13–14). Paul refers to himself as “the Apostle of the Gentiles,” and focuses on them, hoping that his own people (Jews) will also listen. In so doing, he “magnifies” his priesthood calling.
● Olive Tree Allegory (Romans 11:11–25). This section discusses “ingrafted branches” or adoption into the house of Israel. “Graffed in,” or “grafted in,” is an agricultural way of saying “adopted in.” Paul uses an analogy from agriculture to make the doctrine clearer. The natural olive tree is Israel; the wild branches are the Gentiles. The natural order of things is that the grafted branches control the destiny of the tree. Hence, a good branch from a tame tree could be grafted into a wild tree and make it tame. This allegory is explained in more detail in the Book of Mormon, Jacob 5.
● We are chosen through righteousness, not race. God does not prefer one nation (or race) over another (Romans 10:12–13). “All are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33). The phrase “is rich unto all that call upon him” means “richly blesses all that call upon him.” This is an important thing to remember in every dispensation, including our own. There have been too many in our time who have supposed that some children of God will, or should be, denied the blessings of the Gospel or of the temple because of their lineage or race. This has never been true, “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35).
● Heirs of God. “Latter-day Saints see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; they consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential. . . . Just as a child can develop the attributes of his or her parents over time, the divine nature that humans inherit can be developed to become like their Heavenly Father’s. . . . Men and women have the potential to be exalted to a state of godliness.”5
● Faith comes by hearing the word of God preached. Paul used a series of quotations from the Old Testament in a logical progression to explain the relationship between preaching and faith (Romans 10:18–21). Paul taught that faith comes by hearing the word of God preached, and this requires an authorized messenger (Romans 10:14–17). The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation.”6
● The “fullness of the Gentiles” is defined in Romans 11:25. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “‘Until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in,’ means that since Paul’s day, the gospel has been and will continue to be taught to the Gentiles on a preferential basis until they have had a full opportunity to accept it. That is ‘the fullness of the Gentiles.’ Then, the message will go again to the Jews.”7 At the time of the writing of Romans, the times of the Gentiles were just beginning. In our day we are witnessing the end of the times of the Gentiles as, more and more, they are not responding to the Gospel message. We are seeing the Lamanites and the Africans respond more and more in our day. And eventually, the times of the Jews will return.
● Refraining from judging others for their differences from us (Romans 14:13–21). It is vital that we understand that every person is loved by the Lord Jesus Christ, and He has suffered for them as well as for us. Paul said, “Destroy not him . . . for whom Christ died” (v. 15). The Prophet Joseph Smith said on one occasion, “Ever keep in exercise the principle of mercy, and be ready to forgive our brother on the first intimations of repentance and asking forgiveness; and should we need forgiveness, our Heavenly Father would be equally merciful unto us.”8 And on another occasion he said, “I advise all of you to be careful what you do, or you may by-and-by find out that you have been deceived. . . . If a spirit of bitterness is in you, don’t be in haste. You may say, ‘That man is a sinner!’ Well, if he repents, he shall be forgiven. Be cautious; await.”9
1. In Conference Report, October 1995, 31; or Ensign, November 1995, 25.
2. Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 395.
3. Mormon Doctrine, 216.
4. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 189.
5. “Becoming Like God,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org
6. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 148.
7. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 2:290.
8. Address to the Twelve, Tuesday, July 2, 1839. In History of the Church, Vol.3, 383.
9. Messages of the First Presidency, Volume 1, 222.