What we have been learning so far through the Book of Romans has been preparing us for life in The Church, which Jesus purchased with His blood.
There are those who cast aspersions on The Church, and rightly so in many cases. But in the remainder of the Book of Romans we learn Jesus’ view of The Church, and it is astoundingly high.
It is a great comfort to those whose lives have been tied to The Church to see how much Jesus loves The Church, which, after all, is comprised of His people. There is no Church without His people – and that is the point. How can we see His people?
Paul had announced God’s sovereign plan to save all Israel, and that plan is (in The Church Age) being accomplished by The Church provoking Israel to jealousy. How, you may ask, is The Church capable of provoking Israel to jealousy? What do we posess to make Jewish people jealous?
Well, again, if we examine what has historically been presented as “The Church,” we may be left to wonder. But Paul knows nothing of the edifice of superficiality which has portrayed itself as “The Church” down through the centuries. He only knows those whose hearts are genuinely converted or completed, (as in the case of the Jewish believers,) by Jesus Christ. The first-century Church had no knowledge of fake, and when it appeared, the Holy Spirit wiped it out – as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Hypocrisy did not appear much in the first-century Church because being part of the Church was a life-threatening choice. Persecution was rampant and attending church as a cultural experience was non-existent. (Persecution has a very purifying effect.)
And so, Romans 12 begins Paul’s discourse of what life in The Church is to look like on an individual basis – and it is a beautiful thing. A Christian is to live a completely sacrificial life, and rather than being some sort of extreme example – it is to be the norm.
A Christian is to be constantly transforming themselves in Christ according to the renewing of their mind which takes place by the ongoing study of and life in God’s Word.
Only in doing so do we prove God’s perfect will for our lives. There is no other life for the Christian, and those who have no regard for this kind of life are posers who do great damage to The Church, creating the impression The Church is a place of keeping rules and earning your way into heaven. Why would the Jews be jealous of that?