Corky, you bring out good statements and scriptures worth examination.
First, Romans 10. First, we see that Paul is addressing himself specifically to Israel, as he does also in Romans 11. "They have zeal of God, but not according to knowledge".
That in itself is an interesting statement. They had the law, they had knowledge of what was expected of them, and they obviously had dedication, but not, apparently, knowledge. Jesus allegedly made a similar statement in Matthew 11:13.
In verse 6-8, this same scripture is also used by Jews to show that the "word of God" is among them, and that they have the right to follow the precepts of that government. In fact, there is an ancient legend among Talmudist Jews that at one point, they were undecided on what was the truth of a particular matter, so they put it to a vote. The majority ruled, based on a lack of clear scriptural guidance, the majority ruled. God, however, came down and told them that in this case, the minority was actually correct. But the Talmudist said that God was "out of order" and quoted from Deuteronomy 30:11-13. They had the law, they were charged with the obedience and upkeep of that law, and it was not for God to constantly interfere with his own creation.
According to the legend, God said "my children have defeated me", and returned to his own place.
This, in essence is the same scripture which Paul uses, yet applies it to the life of Jesus, of which the Jews claimed no knowledge.
Verse 19: "Did not Israel know?" They certainly knew the law. It was right there before them, yet history shows that they continually added to the law and created a class of "masters" called Rabbis, who taught according to the oral traditions given to Moses.
Was the message there? Paul says yes it was, but Israel apparently didn't get it.
Corky, you argue there was a choice, yet following into Romans 11, we see that there was no choice. Israel didn't believe in anything having to do with Jesus. By choice?
Romans 11:7: "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded".
Election? Those who were born as Isaac was, those born of the promise, foreknown, predestined, called, and chosen, as I examined earlier. Free choice? Apparently not to Israel.
And yet we see this in Romans 11:26: "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob".
And of course we have Romans 11:32 "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all".
So we see as a continuation of Romans 10 nothing about Jews going to hell, nor anything about them being able to freely "choose Christ".
So now we look at John 3;15-19. What was Israel all about? LAW. Law brings "wrath" as Paul wrote. So if people believed in Jesus and his life, they were free from "condemnation", from judgement and the authority imposed by men. That is the entire essence of freedom from law by simply accepting that we are "born of God".
let's forget about the religious mumbo jumbo and mystery BS. As we see from John 1:12-13, if you are "born of God", then you are not born of the will of men. No man can judge or condemn n you, as you are Innocent of all charges. or as Paul said in Romans 8:33: "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth".
The biblical margin I have refers that back to Isaiah 50:8, which says that in any accusation, the accused has the right to face his accuser, and God is on the side of the ACCUSED, not the accuser. In other words, by accepting your "birth of God" by the acceptance of Jesus, you can claim you are not subject to the judgement of men.
That creates a very practical application in terms of law. If you believe in Jesus, then you believe that Jesus came "not to condemn, but that the world through him might be saved".
So, in terms of law, what is gained by this belief? Freedom from "mea culpa", the enforced confession of guilt, the right against self incrimination, the right to claim your freedom before men. The right to live free.
"But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought of God".
If you go before the laws of men, therefore, you can claim to have been free of the imposed obligations of law. You are not condemned. This is the example Paul gave in quoting from the OT, "cursed is he that hangeth on a tree".
So, what is it exactly that you're choosing? To live freely before men, to declare that you are innocent until proven guilty, and that no government of man can determine your guilt by its own accusation. That is the essence of OT law and its protections, not just for Israel, but for all, the 'stranger within thy gates".
As Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas pointed out, mea culpa belongs between man and his God. It is a confession that cannot be extracted from free men by the state. That, you see, is truth.
The deception and confusion of Christianity is the idea that we can choose strict and legalistic methods to condemn our neighbor, to judge him according to collective efforts, but that is not given, either by Jesus or Paul who taught us not to practice an "eye for an eye". The judgement of "wrath" is reserved ONLY for the state, and the state, as we see, is controlled by Satan(Matthew 4, Luke 4).
Jesus actually challenged the collective birthright promise to Israel when he told Nicodemus "ye must be born again(from above)".
By that choice, you may "see the kingdom of God". And who, exactly, are those people? As we see in John 3:8, no one has a way of identifying them, which means, there is no legal authority of man to claim jurisdiction over those "born again". If you are "born of God", you are not born of "the will of men(John 1:13)", which means that your choices and your life exists OUTSIDE the collective jurisdiction of the "will of men".
Does the U.S. Constitution recognize this? of course it does. Simply look at the First Amendment. To "believe on Jesus" is simply to believe that you are NOT under condemnation of God, and if not under condemnation of God, certainly no government of man can condemn you unless you actually harm another, and that person must accuse you, not the government.
That is the basis and foundation of common law. As I remember, you stress John 3;19: Obviously, if any man is Innocent and has harmed no other, then that man, under BOTH Old and New Testament, has the right to face his accuser with the full vindication of God(Isaiah 54:17). That means anybody and everybody who chooses this freedom and this lifestyle.
So, Corky, you mention Titus 1:13: "This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith."
What faith? A human concept of religion that is by its very nature limited? A religion that seeks to curse or condemn those who don't believe as it does? Not at all. A belief that men are free to live within simple guidelines of love, as James writes, "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world(James 1:27)".
HWA said we had to keep certain tenets of the law, and by those tenets, we concluded we were 'elect', yet Paul clearly and repeatedly wrote that those 'elect' were one and the same as those born of promise to Abraham, as Isaac was(Gal. 4;28), and that it was simply impossible to make such a choice for ourselves(Romans 9:16-22).
Consequently, the only way to "follow Christ" is to claim freedom from the authority structures, ALL authority structures, of men. "Presumption of innocence".
Titus 2:15: These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. let no man despise thee."
What things? How about verse 14; "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from ALL iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works".
God works? How about James 1:27? And yet, we see from Ephesians 2;8-10, that works do not earn us any special 'elect" place. Nothing earns us "salvation". It's a free gift.
So, what "authority" would a "government of God' have? Presumption of innocence before men, also known from common law and identified by Chief Justice Edward Coke of England as "due process of law".
How do we know that? because the US Supreme Court, in "Miranda vs Arizona", footnote 27, acknowledged that this right against self incrimination in our 5th Amendment has its analogue in the bible. In fact, that is the very essence of the New Testament, that all humans are free from the condemnation of men.
Can I speak that with authority? Of course I can. Anyone can. "We hold these truths to be self evident..."
And, Corky, as you pointed out, of course Jesus told us not to follow others who came in the nbame of Christ, since he told us to follow him. But in words attributed to Jesus himself, what happens if we follow him and seek to obey the law? Matthew 10:34-38.
What is the whole essence of Jesus teaching? he came not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. Saved from what? Well, sin. And what is sin? lawbreaking. And since he died innocently having broken no law, he became the example of freedom before the law, for every person on this earth.
It's all about freedom.