In Romans 3 we see fully expressed Paul’s rhetorical method. He asks a question and then provides the answer. His first question may seem odd to us, “What advantage has the Jew?” It’s not a question most of us spend time pondering. But Paul begins with this question because it is exactly the question his earliest readers would have been asking, based on his writings.
The question follows this way, “If the true Jew is defined not by lineage, circumcision, or law-keeping, is there any value in those things? Is there any value in being a Jew?” In our day, the query might sound more like this, “If the true believer is defined not by how often she attends church nor by how thoroughly she knows the Scriptures, nor even by how diligent she is in her moral purity and acts of service to others, is there any value in those things? If the true believer is one whose faith is formed inwardly, not merely expressed outwardly, is there any value in the outward expressions?”
Paul’s short answer: Absolutely! ”Much in every way.” Paul then offers just one advantage – but it is huge. The Jewish people were the ones entrusted with the revelation of God, the Word of God. Likewise in our faith development we can find much to be gained from being active in a community of believers even if we are aware of the shortcomings inherent in the institutionalization of faith. We often refer to these advantages as “The Means of Grace.”
The means of grace are disciplines, such as Bible study, worship attendance, and acts of mercy and piety, which position us inwardly and outwardly to experience God’s grace in ways that enliven, strengthen, and perfect our faith. Is there value in such activity? ”Much in every way!”
Lord Jesus, help me add enough discipline in my inward and outward life that your love and grace may free me to live in joyful obedience to your Word. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston.