Salvation is sure…mercy is granted

Romans 11:25-36

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

A mystery, something to be investigated or searched, this is something that is not clearly understood or apparent. “ Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery,”  Israel’s hardening came and that permitted that the Gentiles, the rest of humanity, could be brought into the family of God.  And Paul maintains that all Israel will be saved through the same provision of mercy:

 “The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

God made a promise and God keeps his word.  When God speaks it cannot be reversed.  He told Adam the day he ate from the tree he would die.  Death is come to all mankind as the result of disobedience.  The law that was spoken cannot be reversed.  He called Abraham, made a promise to him and kept it by providing for our salvation through Jesus Christ who came through Abraham’s seed.   He provides for our salvation and gives us the gift of life through Christ, a promise to us and he will keep it.

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

As for understanding all this and explaining it, Paul quotes Scripture

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?”

We are given to know in part and that through the Holy Spirit. Take away:  It is sufficient to know that we can be and are reunited with God through Jesus Christ.  And with Paul we can say

 To him be glory forever. Amen. 

The olive tree and its branches…

Romans 11:22-24

Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

The sovereignty of God is displayed.  He shows goodness and he shows severity. (other translations state sternness)  The Gentile is grafted into his family because they believe, the Jew has been cut-off from their place because they do not believe.  It has nothing to do with who we are and everything to do with faith.  When we believe, we are grafted in and become a member of God’s family.  That holds for both the Gentile and the Jew.  We are not there by birth, by race, because our parents’ had faith.  The only requirement for being grafted into the olive tree of God’s family is to believe Him.  He took care of the rest.  So the family of humanity all equally have opportunity to enter the family of God.  What is required is faith.  He shows goodness and severity dependant upon our belief.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

“For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.” 

 

We are all branches…

Romans 11:11-21

I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!

For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry,  if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.  For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,  do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.

olive branch

There is hope. That hope is part of faith.  That hope says when we believe and receive the  gift of grace; God’s forgiveness, mercy and redemption, we are grafted into his family.  The illustration of the olive tree gives fair warning.  The branches broken off and removed were broken because of lack of faith and belief.  They were not broken to graft in the new branches.  Paul warns us

do not be arrogant, but be afraid…”  (NIV version)

There is a fear that is proper for it reminds us of who and what God is.

  “Do not be haughty, but fear.”

Remember that if

 “God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either…”  (NIV version)

Again a reminder, the natural branches, those of the Israelites, were not spared due to their lack of faith and belief.  Consider this:

 ” remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

Rather we thank him for the privilege of being grafted into his family through faith.  Thank him for the nourishment received from him the root of the tree. There is a proper attitude when standing before Almighty God.

“…you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

 

The olive tree

Chosen or blind?

Romans 11:1-10

I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying,  “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.  Just as it is written:

“God has given them a spirit of stupor,

Eyes that they should not see

And ears that they should not hear,

To this very day.”

And David says:

Let their table become a snare and a trap,

A stumbling block and a recompense to them.

Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see,

And bow down their back always.”

God will have a people.  ““I have reserved for Myself …”   Words of encouragement when we are filled with a sense that there is no one walking in the way of the Lord.  All around us we can hear and see a people who have eyes but cannot see and who have ears but cannot hear.  The message goes forth but is not received, rather it is ridiculed and mocked. But here is an assurance that grace is available and there are still those chosen by grace, not through works.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; …” While we continue to hear the message of works, scripture is plain in telling us we are reunited with God through his grace.  It is a gift.  A gift not to be despised. So take him at his word.  Believe him.  What he says is true, “…I have…who have not bowed the knee.”  It is good to know we are a part of that people, we have accepted the gift of grace.  We can claim to be part of the elect.

He calls…

Romans 10:14-21

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,

Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?”  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:

“Their sound has gone out to all the earth,

And their words to the ends of the world.”

 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:

“I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,

I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”

 But Isaiah is very bold and says:

“I was found by those who did not seek Me;

I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

But to Israel he says:

“All day long I have stretched out My hands

To a disobedient and contrary people.”

He calls and we can be a part of it.  The importance of sharing is revealed.  When we share the Word of God, we share His voice.  It is calling to those who cross our paths.  Their response or non-response is not our affair.  Our sharing is our affair, to be found faithful to give glory to God, to tell of His greatness, to offer His love and concern to others.  Be the one whose feet are called beautiful because they take us to those who need to hear.  Hearing begins the process of reunion with the Creator.

Do all who hear our sharing receive?  No.  Time and again, God seeks out and calls to his creation:

All day long I have stretched out My hands

To a disobedient and contrary people.”

He is so longsuffering, so patient.  Can we do any less?

It was stated recently that of all the religions  and all the gods worshipped by mankind, Christianily and Judiasm are the only ones whose God seeks them.  All others are sought by mankind. Our God cares, loves and calls to us.

“I was found by those who did not seek Me;

I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

And again:

“All day long I have stretched out My hands

To a disobedient and contrary people.”

And we can respond with the poet, David:

    Psalm 63

A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.

Oh God, You are my God

And I will ever praise You

I will seek You in the morning

And I will learn to walk in Your ways

And Step by step You’ll lead me

And I will follow You all of my days – lyrics from Step by Step

 He calls, what is our response?

The heart and the mouth…

Romans 10:1-13

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”  But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “ ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

There is man’s righteousness, manner of right living, and God’s righteousness, right living that pleases God. Man outside the knowledge of God will attempt to establish a law for right living.

“…seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”

 Knowledge of God then reveals its lack.  Man’s efforts fail to please God.  With knowledge of God comes true righteousness, right living that leads to eternal life.  Two elements will be engaged; the mouth and the heart.  The mouth confesses that Jesus is Lord and the heart believes that God raised him from the dead.  Living according to a law does not provide salvation from the penalty of sin, belief in Christ and what he did  does.  The promise is given:

 “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The ‘stumbling stone’

Romans 9:30-33

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.  Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written:

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,

And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Do we attain righteousness, which by definition is :

 characterized by, proceeding from, or in accordance with accepted standards of morality, justice, or uprightness; virtuous: morally justifiable or right, the quality or state of being just or rightful,

by what we do?  Can we attain this defined place in self, by our own works?  The early Jews believed so and attempted to follow the law.  If it had been possible in our own strength to abide by the law, this righteousness would have been achieved.  But it wasn’t and so the sacrificial offerings were required.  This is no less true today.  We are not able to achieve this status on our own, by our own works.  Paul is pointing out to us that the Gentiles received this righteousness, but not through their works, since they did not have the law to follow.  They received righteousness because when presented with Jesus and what he had done for us, they simply believed. They accepted his gift on faith and it was counted to them for righteousness, God’s righteousness, not their own.  So Paul is saying here that if we try to achieve righteousness simply by our own good works, we will stumble over the stone, that is Christ.  The mind-set that tries to achieve by doing will find it difficult to simply receive.  Even in the ‘world’ of believers, working under our own strength causes confusion.  We try to achieve an image of righteousness by what we do or don’t do.  But it is just that; an image.  Genuine righteousness that is pleasing to God is given to us, we don’t achieve it.  It comes to us as a result of believing that Jesus is the Christ, that he died for our sins, that his death is an atonement we receive, that he rose from the grave alive, that he paid for our sins in full.  If we believe, we have faith that all of this is true and the truth of it sets us free; free from working to achieve righteousness, free from obligation to work to pay our debt, free to live as he instructed, a life of abundance.

“the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”