Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 29th, 2018.
Let us begin this morning with our July memory verse. Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways.” Let’s say it one more time.
Our memory verse is actually a perfect transition into our study this morning from Romans 12:1-2, so let’s not waste any time this morning and jump right into our text. Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word.
Last week, during our mission trip in Guatemala, I had several opportunities to sit and talk with others Christians while riding on a bus to and from our destinations. One of those individuals that I sat by was named Rudy. Rudy was one of our translators. Rudy is a missionary in Guatemala and is originally from Mexico. He is 25 years old and is passionate about living his life for Jesus Christ. While speaking with Rudy, the story of Adoniram Judson came to my mind. Adoniram was a Baptist missionary from America in the 1800’s. His mission field was Burma, today known as Myanmur, a nation just East of India.
What came to my mind while speaking to Rudy was the story of Adoniram asking his future father in law’s permission to marry his daughter. Adoniram asked his permission by writing him a letter. I would like to read that letter to you this morning:
I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair.
What kind of man writes this kind of letter? What kind of women accepts this kind of marriage proposal? What kind of father willingly gives his daughter to this kind of life? I will tell you, ones who have embraced the truth found in Romans 12:1. Ones who are overwhelmed by the grace of Christ who “left his heavenly home, and died for [them].” Ones whose hearts beat in sync with their Savior and with every breath aim for the glory of God in all things and in all nations.
When Adonirum died in 1850 there were 100 Churches in Burma at approximately 8,000 Burmese believers. And in this current moment those Burmese believers are not weeping in Hell, but are standing in a “world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to [their] Saviour.”
It needs not be said, that the Body of Christ needs more husbands like Adonirum, more wives like Ann, and more Father-in-laws like Mr. Hasseltine. But how is this achieved? How are hearts stirred to such great a degree that we become inflamed with the exultation of our Redeemer and count the cost and joyfully surrender our lives for the sake of His name? It is really quite simple, and Romans 12:1 contains the answer. So let us turn the eyes of our heart to this text.
I have broken down these verses into three categories: 1) The Goal, 2) The Grounds, and 3) the Glory. The Goal, the Grounds, the Glory. Let us begin with the goal.
We see in verse 1, our author, the Apostle Paul, appealing to the Church in Roman. You will notice that the Apostle Paul addresses them as brothers. This is the world aldelphos, and it can be used to address both brothers and sisters. The use of this word is to draw the Roman’s attention to the equality of their position. Both the Apostle Paul and the believers in Rome have the same Father, God almighty. It is God who fathered them. It is God who gave them a new life in Christ. It is God who birthed them into Spiritual existence. John 1:12-13 captures this idea when it says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” It was the will of God that caused Paul and all believers in Rome to believe. We cannot take credit for our birth, we were passive. It is simply something that happens through the sovereignty of God and the effectual power of the Gospel. We have already been taught in Romans 8 that those whom he foreknew, he predestined; and those whom he predestined, he called; and those whom he called, he justified; and those whom he justified, he glorified.
Therefore, all men and women in Christ are on equal ground. Paul is not better than the believers in Rome; no matter their gender, no matter their occupation, no matter their wealth, no matter their age, no matter their maturity. In Christ we are all standing upon the same grace of the righteousness of Christ.
And it is from this posture of spiritual equality that Paul’s makes his appeal to his spiritual siblings, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers.” This word appeal is also an interesting word, for Paul could easily command it, for he is an apostle, given the Word of the Lord for the building up of the Church, but yet he appeals. The word appeal is parakaleō, which can be translated to appeal, or entreat, or beseech, or even to beg.
Just to give you a sample of how parakaleō is used in another context, in Mark 7:32 it says, “And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him.” The word begged in Mark 7:32 is the same word as used in Romans 1. Paul is begging his brothers and sisters. He is pleading with them. But what is he pleading for?
Brother Paul is pleading that they “present [their] bodies as a living sacrifice.” To understand the full weight of this plea, we must see this appeal through the lens of the Old Testament. The people of Israel, prior to Christ’s coming, were commanded to bring offerings to the Temple. One of these offerings was the burnt offering. This offering would be an animal from your livestock. It was to be without blemish, and it was to be brought to the temple alive and handed over to the priests. The priests would then kill the animal and pour its blood upon the altar. The animal was then to be cut up into pieces and a fire kindled under it. In Leviticus 1:9 it says, “And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.”
Paul, using this Old Testament imagery, beseeches Christians to offer themselves as a living sacrifice. To come to the Temple of God, which is Jesus Christ, and surrender your life to the Lord, not just some of your life but all of your life; complete and utter surrender. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the call of a Christian life, to be entirely abandoned to the will of the Lord. Luke 9:23-24, the verse that changed my life, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
We live in a post modern Christian world that treats Jesus as an accessory to our lives. We tend to only put him on when it makes us look good. But what does Christ say to you today? Jesus says, “any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33).
Have you renounced all that you have? Have you surrendered your entire life to serve the one and Holy God of the Universe? Have you cast off the sins and the weights of this passing world to sit at the feet of the Master? Have you, with joy, sold all of your possession so that you can obtain the treasure of the Kingdom of God? Are you a living sacrifice to God? If not, why not? What are you still clinging to? What is your idol that you are still bowing down to? Your business? Your reputation? Your dreams? Your children? Your life? Here the Words of the Lord this morning and tremble, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Scripture is clear. God is not playing game. The goal of a Christian life is to present yourself as a living sacrifice. It is to this end we are to strive. But how do we achieve this?
For this answer, let us turn our attention to my second point, The Grounds. What are the grounds of such radical living? What is the catalyst that sets us in motion to joyfully let go of the things of this world? What is the force behind a life abandoned to the Glory of God in all things, and all areas of our life?
What does it say in verse 1?, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” “By the mercies of God.” The power behind such reckless abandonment are the mercies of God. The mercies of God is the fuel that feeds the fire that was lit by the Spirit. But what are these mercies of God?
The mercies of God are the first 11 chapters of Romans. Do not forget what we have studied. Do not forget what we have spent almost one year unpacking. We have been gazing upon the mercies of God. It began in Romans 1, 2 and 3. Where we read about the Holy justice of God, who rightfully and justly holds sinners accountable for our transgressions against him.
And as the Apostle Paul clearly states, we are all sinners; every one of us.
This is a description of us all. This is who we are at our core. We are totaled depraved. We are sinners with dead rebellious hearts, speaking lies and hateful words to our fellow man, quick to put ourselves before others, hostile towards God, and scoffing at the Day of Judgment. If anyone deserves Hell it is us. And if we received it, there should be no complaint, for it is what justice requires.
And it is this point, that I fear so few people understand, or at least feel the weight of in their lives. We are all guilty of sinning against a God who is the Creator of all things, a God who is benevolent; a God who has given us all things, and we have committed treason of the highest order against him. We deserve the outer darkness, the gnashing of teeth, the weeping, the unquenchable flames, the eternal torment. We deserve Hell, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved-- “ (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Christ has taken Hell upon himself at Calvary and died the death that each of us deserve and rescued us from eternal damnation and replaced it with eternal joy. These are the mercies of God, and this is the grounds of presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice. It is because we have been saved that we surrender our lives to our savior. It is not the other way around. We do not sacrifice ourselves to be saved, for Christ is our sacrifice. We are saved through faith in Christ, therefore we respond by becoming a living sacrifice.
To give you a simple illustration of this teaching, imagine that you had incurred an insurmountable financial debt. You reach a point in your life that you know that there is absolutely no hope off getting out from under this debt, and your creditors are coming, ready to throw you into debtors prison until the last cent is paid. And at the deepest moment of despair a man steps in and pays your debt, every last cent; wipes your record clean and satisfies your obligations. And not only does he pay your debt, but he adopts you as his own son and daughter. And this man is not an ordinary man, but he is a king with treasuries that are full beyond your comprehension, and all that he has is now yours.
Now imagine, after your debt has been paid, after you have been adopted, after you have been promised a glorious inheritance, he comes to you one day and requests that you run an errand for him? What do you do? Do you ignore him? Do you say that you are too busy? Do you say “I will think about it?” Do you say, “that errand really isn't my calling?” Or do you say yes?
I fear too many of us, fail to say yes. We are too wrapped up in the dust of this world, we are too focused on our own passions and desires, and we effectively tell the Creator of the Universe who has eternally loved us to stopping bothering us and leave us alone.
We must wake up and realize that “you were bought with a price.” And this price was the blood of the Son of God. And this is the grounds of our sacrificial living.
Which leads us to our last point. We have looked at the goal and the grounds, and now let us to to the glory. Verse 1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” A life fully surrendered to the Lord is worship. We tend to think of worship as what we do on Sunday's, which it is, but worship is more comprehensive than just singing songs, corporate prayer, and the teaching of God's Word. Worship is to be every breath we take. I just quoted to you first part 1 Corinthians 6:20, “for you were bought with a price.” The rest of the verse says, “So glorify God in your body.”
This is why God created the the Universe, to receive glory, to receive worship. This is the purpose of all things, including you. A verse that I commonly quote is Revelation 4:11, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” God is looking for those who will worship him. John 4:23, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” The question for us today, is when he looks down upon your life will he find a worshiper in Spirit and Truth, or will he find an idol worshiper?
You exist for one singular ultimate, and glorious purpose, to glorify God. Not just when we lift our voices in praise, but in all that we do. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
So what shall we do? We know the goal, to present ourselves as living sacrifice. We know grounds, the mercies of God. We know our purpose, to glorify God. So now what?
Hebrews 12:1-2, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
We look to Jesus, the incarnation of the mercies of God, and recognize that what he did in the leaving of Heaven, in becoming a man of sorrow, in being beaten and hung on the cross, he did for you.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 22nd, 2018.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
In This Way All Israel Will Be Saved – Romans 11:25-36
Please turn to our text for today Romans 11:25-36. In honor of the reading of God’s word, please stand.
25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 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”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
I have taken my title for today’s sermon from the first part of verse 26 in this way all Israel with be saved. Today Paul will be wrapping up his argument, the argument he started back in Romans 9. But notice how Paul starts our text today with a warning about the danger when Christians think they know, through their own wisdom, why so many of Israel, the Jews, have rejected their Messiah – Jesus. Many Gentile Christians in Rome may have been arrogant towards the Jews because so many Jews rejected their own Messiah. We saw Paul address this last week by using the Metaphor of an olive tree.
It would be easy for Gentile Christians to look at the branches of Jews who have been cut off for their unbelief in Jesus and think we, Gentiles, are better than Jews. Some Gentiles believers could be thinking, the number of growing Gentile believers and so few Jewish believer, is evidence that God has rejected his chosen people Israel or that so many Jews failure to believe is fatal for Israel as a people. Both of these conclusions Paul has emphatically denied earlier in chapter 11, saying by no means!
In the olive tree metaphor, Paul spoke specifically to Gentile Christians and reminded them that, the tree that they are now grafted into - is Israel, those who received the promises of God going back to the forefathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). While some branches were broken off, they were broken off because of unbelief and the result was that Gentile believers are now being grafted in. Now God is using Gentile believers, like us, and Jewish believers, like Paul, to make unbelieving Jews jealous for what we have, their Messiah – Jesus. In fact, Paul magnifies his own ministry to the Gentiles to make his fellow Jews jealous and thus save some of them.
Here in this warning in verse 25, Paul wants Gentile believers not to come up with worldly, man-made wisdom about ideas about the plan of salvation for Israel, God’s chosen people, the Jews - because it is a mystery. Paul has been, by the power of the Holy Spirit, unwrapping this mystery of God’s plan for his people Israel throughout chapters 9, 10 and 11. Here we have Paul summing up God’s word on what this mystery, to keep us from using worldly wisdom to try to explain this. Paul does not want his Christians brothers to be unaware of this mystery.
Before we go too far into this mystery, it would be helpful to have a biblical context for mystery. The word mystery is used 32 times in the bible - 8 times in Daniel, 4 times in Revelation, and the Apostle Paul used the word 20 times in his letters. In Romans Paul uses the word mystery 1 other time at the end.
The word mystery is used to describe things marriage, Jesus, Gentiles, and God’s will, to name just a few. But it is where Paul uses the word at the end of Romans that we get a good definition of mystery in the biblical context.
Romans 16:25-26 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.
Here we get insight into the word’s use. Paul tells us it is something that has been kept secret and some of these mysteries are now being revealed, made known to all the nations, by God’s command to bring about obedience of faith.
So Paul is going to reveal something here that is a mystery about God’s plan for salvation for his people Israel, the Jews. Now I want to preface my message today and say there are many godly men who differ on the details of this mystery. You would think that in revealing this mystery - Paul would make it clear, but like many mysteries some have been revealed, some will be revealed, and some are still being revealed. In our mystery today, there is a present tense of the revealing – in verse 25 a partial hardening has come upon Israel. The “has come” here tells us that it has been revealed. But there is also a future aspect of this mystery that will occur that should give us caution. The end of verse 25 says until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. The “until” here, tells us this mystery is still being revealed and there is a future aspect or prophecy here that is not yet complete.
Herein lies a danger so we need to be cautious not to go too far with this mystery. In the Old Testament, the test of whether a prophet was a true prophet is given in Deuteronomy 18:22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
Seems fairly straight forward and simple. If the prophecy comes to pass it is true, if not, it is not the word of God.
As we look at this mystery today, I pray that the Holy Spirit guides us to his truth, that we stay grounded in God’s word because his word is truth.
To help us break down this mystery today, I want to focus our attention on the who, what, when, how and why of this mystery today, not necessarily in that order. We are covering a lot of text today, so we will not get too deep into all the aspects of this mystery. But I will do the best to stay true to the context of this mystery and cover the text we have today.
There are many pastors who spend a lot more time in Romans 11 than we will, in fact, I was looking at some sermon from Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones and I believe he has 30 sermons on chapter 11. We will have done three. So I encourage you all to look at this more, and deeper for yourselves. God reveals mysteries so we are not left wondering Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
The context of this mystery, I believe Paul has been unraveling throughout chapter 9-11. Paul is making a summary statement here in Romans 11:25-26: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved (stop there). Verse 26 sums it up - 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, but I want to help us see the who, what, how, and when in this verse, the title of my message today and then we will end with the why.
Let’s start with probably the least controversial question - the WHAT in Romans 11:26 And in this way all Israel will be saved.
God’s plan of salvation is the issue, the What, that Paul has been unpacking. He has started with the remnant Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
Paul reached back into Old Testament to remind us that when Elijah was in fear for his life, thinking he was the only one left. God had kept for himself 7,000 men who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Even when things look the darkest, God is still faithful to his people Israel. He had kept for himself a remnant of 7,000, plus Elijah.
Then Paul goes on to unpack the Gentiles grafting and their full inclusion or salvation and finally the full inclusion or salvation of Israel.
The What is: Salvation Romans 11:26 And in this way all Israel will be saved.
Now let’s turn to the Who. Which may be one of the most disputed portions of this text. Paul has been talking about the salvation of a certain people in Romans chapter’s 9-11, although it is obvious by this point - it is Israel, he restates it in Romans 11:26 as all Israel. But what does Paul mean when he says “all Israel”?
This is one of those areas where godly men may disagree on the interpretation of “all Israel”. There are different thoughts about who Paul means by – all Israel. There are probably 3 main camps that most theologians fall into regarding who this all Israel is referring to.
The second camp argues “all Israel” is all believers, both Jews and Gentiles. If we look at the context of Paul’s statement in verse 25, Paul is contrasting Israel’s partial hardening now with the Gentiles coming fullness - which will bring about all Israel’s salvation. Here we see Paul has in mind two groups of people Jewish people of Israel and the Gentiles.
Also, last week in the Olive tree metaphor Israel represented the tree (going back to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and some branches stayed on, but some were broken off (for unbelief) - then some are grafted in – both believing Gentiles and Jews that were made jealous. God grafted them back into their own olive tree. I believe we can rule out all Israel being all believe Jews and Gentiles.
I believe that leads us to the simple answer that is the context of Paul’s argument going back to chapter 9. WHO is “all Israel”? – it is all believing Jews. Paul has made clear all are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Our first memory verse Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. It came to the Jew first through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I believe the “all Israel” here is also inclusive of the remnant of Israel that he spoke of in Romans 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But our text today also points to a future Israel, that will believe, after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. So the simplest obvious answer to WHO is all Israel? It is All believing Jews from Abraham until Christ returns.
That leads us into the when, which I have already touched on it. When will “all Israel” be saved? Romans 11:26 And in this way all Israel will be saved. The will be saved, points us to some future time when all Israel will be saved and just before, in verse 25, we are given some clarity. The partial hardening is temporary, there is a point in the future, when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in that “all Israel” will be saved.
This is where we need to be especially careful. This is pointing to a future time. While it may not be crystal clear as to the mystery of when it will happen, it will happen sometime in the future. What that looks like exactly, I don’t know, but at some point in the future, God will finish calling Gentiles to faith in Jesus and also finish calling Jews to faith in Jesus. Today we still see a remnant of Jews, still in relatively small numbers, turning to Christ. But there will come a time – at, around or after the fullness or completeness of the Gospel message to the world – when the good news of Jesus Christ will have reached to the ends of the earth, to all the nations.
At or about that time there will be a pouring out of the spirit of grace that is described in Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
And going down to Zechariah 13:1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
There is a future time when all Israel’s salvation will be complete. It will be amazing. We see this foreshadowed in Zechariah over 500 years before Paul wrote Romans about something that still is not complete today. God is pouring out the spirit of grace on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Israel. We also see a repentance when they look on him whom they have pierced - Jesus. We also see a fountain opening up to cleanse them from sin. The answer to the mystery of when? Is in God’s timing, but Paul reveals it will be when the fullness of the Gentiles come in, then all Israel will be saved. He does not give us all the specifics so we must trust in what he does reveal about the future timing of when. There is an aspect of end times here that my ammillenial position influences, but that is probably another sermon, if you would like to know more, I would be happy to discuss it with you.
Now let’s turn to the mystery of how? How is all Israel saved? I have also touched on this already, but Paul goes on to use scripture to help inform us here. He says at the end of Romans 11:26 .. as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”
Paul is quoting from Isiah 59:20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.
So How is all Israel saved? By the Deliverer, the Redeemer, the Messiah Jesus Christ - by faith in him. Jesus spoke of Abraham’s faith in John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”
Then Paul tells us Jews, like Gentiles and everyone else, are disobedient. That disobedience or stumbling is ultimately seen in the rejection of the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it is for your sake Romans 11:28 for the sake of Gentiles.
Remember, the church in Rome that Paul is addressing is made up of probably mostly Gentiles since only recently had Jews returned to Rome after Claudius had commanded them to leave, mentioned in Acts 18. Paul wants Gentiles to understand that they have benefited from Israel’s rejection of the Gospel also illustrated by their being grafting into the olive tree.
There is only one way for salvation, faith alone, grace alone and Christ alone. There is one olive tree to illustrate that it is by the same kind of faith that both Jew and Gentile are saved. There are not two different ways that we are saved - there is only one way. One way to Christ and that is by faith, faith like Abraham, so that we all may be called sons. So that we all may have life in the Spirit and be heirs in Christ. Jew and Gentiles by Faith. So the answer to how is all Israel saved is, by faith.
So that leaves us with one more question? Why is this mystery revealed? There are many ways to answer that from our text today. The second half of verse 28 But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. One simple answer goes back to election, God choses. Not you, not me, not Jew, not Gentile – God’s sovereign choice of election is one answer to the why all Israel will be saved. God promised the Jewish forefathers, and God is always faithful, even when they are not. Then going on in Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. God has given his best for all who believe, Jew and Gentile. God has given his son. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. This is gift is irrevocable, it will not be taken back. We have seen this described before in Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. There is no revoking of God’s promise. It is a certainty – those who are predestined, called and justified he also glorified - both Jew and Gentile believers. There is no break or dropping off in this chain of salvation by God.
-Another why is found in Romans 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. Why are the Jews like the Gentiles, disobedient? Our disobedience deserves hell, but instead God show us mercy, that he, God, may have mercy on all, the all who believe, both Jew and Gentile.
-Ultimately, the why behind this mystery is summed up in Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. It is ultimately about God’s glory. Why is God worthy? Because all things are from God, through God and will return to God. Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
God is worthy of glory because he created all things, everything seen and unseen, Jew and Gentile.
As we look at God’s plan of salvation for his people - Israel, we should stand in awe. Our response should be our memory verse, Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
Why, because he is God. It is about him, the bible - God’s revelation of his redeeming a people for himself, for his glory and for our good. Here in Romans chapters 9-11 we get an insight into this mystery of God’s people - saving “all Israel” who they are, what God is doing, when he is doing it, how he is doing it and why he is doing it. We have seen and will see God’s faithfulness to Israel and our role as Gentiles in this plan. We will also spend eternity and not reach the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God and his plan of salvation for both Jew and Gentile!
The warning that we saw Paul start with here in Romans 11:25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, is further emphasized in Romans 11:34-35 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
When we think we know better, or that we may become arrogant towards others, Paul again uses scripture to remind us who God is, Here in verses 34-35 Paul quotes from Isaiah and Job.
Paul has also clearly stated earlier who we are in Romans 3:10-12 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
Not only do we not know the mind of the Lord or counsel him, unless he reveals himself to us we do not understand or try to seek him. We may try to offer up works, but all our works are worthless they will not save us. The Jews had missed that point, but God has not forgotten his promises and he is always faithful. That leaves us with one response - praise him for what he has done.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 15th, 2018.
Romans Road VBS
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
The Kindness and Severity of God. Romans 11:11-24
We have been in Paul’s letter to the Romans for almost 1 year now. I looked back at the first sermon preached by Pastor Phil on Romans back on September 5th of 2017. He introduced Romans by telling you that we were starting a journey that may take up to two years. There have been times where we have slowed down and focused on a few verses and other times where we have taken larger sections. At our current pace it will probably take us about a year and a half to finish. But it is not about the pace we take, it is about the Gospel message Paul is sharing with Christians in Rome - and Christians and until Christ returns.
Some might describe our Romans road adventure as long, winding, with hills and valleys and sometimes what looks like a rabbit trail, but hopefully it has been helpful for you to have a clearer understanding of the Gospel and, as we have been doing with our memory verses, storing it up so that we can use the sword of the spirit to share the Gospel, in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and mission trips like our team in Guatemala or where ever God may send us.
We have spent about 2 months now dealing with the issue of the Jews and God’s plan for their salvation. Chapter’s 9-11 address this issue. Paul started chapter 9 by telling us of the sorrow and anguish in his heart for his brothers and kinsmen. With all the advantages they had - why did so few Jews, as a percentage, believe in the Gospel, the Good news of Jesus Christ, their long-awaited Messiah.
Right away Paul makes clear that it was not God’s word that has failed. God is always faithful to his word, even when we are not faithful. Paul then tells us the reason that not all Israel believes is that - not all Israel is Israel or not all physical Israel is spiritual Israel.
Last week Pastor Phil warned that there might be a tendency to think – well I am not a Jew, so what does Romans chapters 9-11 have to do with me? My first response to that is 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. If we believe this, then Romans chapters 9-11 are profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
If you are still thinking I am a Gentile so what does this have to do with me? Our text for today will make that clear. So let us continue our journey down the Romans road today in Romans 11:11-24 (please stand in honor of the reading of God’s word).
Romans 11:11-24 (page 1125 in the black pew bibles)
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
Our text today starts with the same pattern as we began last week with a question and an emphatic answer. Last week the question in chapter 11:1 has God rejected his people? And an emphatic answer – by no means? Today we see Paul start with the question – did they stumble in order that they might fall? And again, Paul answers with an emphatic – By no means!
Paul is speaking here of the stumbling of the Israelites. Now when we think of stumbling often time it involves a fall. But what causes the stumble? Now you have all probably stumbled at one time or another. Some of us, more than others. The reason for the stumble - is you don’t see what is directly in front of you and so you stumble over it.
What did the Jews, not see right in front of them, that they stumbled over? Their own Messiah, Jesus. We saw back in - Romans 9:33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” The Jews pursued their own righteousness by works and thus stumbled over, The Righteous One, Jesus.
The Jews obviously stumbled over their Messiah - but did they fall? Paul has already answered that with an emphatic – By no means! Paul has also made clear in Romans 11:1 that God has not rejected his people – Jews and Paul points to himself as evidence. Paul is a Jew.
If the Jews stumbled over Jesus and it wasn’t a fatal fall for the Jewish people, what is the reason or purpose for most of the Jewish people to trespass or sin in rejecting their Messiah?
Paul goes on to tell us in verse 11, two purposes for Israel’s stumbling or trespass. First, he tells us that through their trespass, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to us.
In God’s plan of salvation, before the foundation of the world, God chose a people for his own possession. That plan included both Jews and Gentiles. If you recall throughout Romans, Paul has been addressing both Jews and Gentiles. Going back to our first memory verse last year. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
I want to take us back briefly to the beginning, where the Gospel was first shared with the Gentiles. In the book of Acts chapter 10 the Apostle Peter shares the Gospel with a Roman Centurion named Cornelius. Before that from Pentecost in Acts 2 up to Acts 10 there were large numbers of Jews believing in the good news of Jesus Christ - the Gospel (even though it is still a small percentage of all Jews), but beginning in Acts 10 we start to see a turn towards Gentiles.
But we know the covenant promise was made back in Genesis when God spoke to Abraham then reaffirmed the promise to Isaac in Genesis 26 and to Jacob in Genesis 28 now is beginning to be fulfilled in Christ - Genesis 22:18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, In Acts chapter 10, we see the start of this blessing to all the nations, the kindness of God flowing to the Gentiles beginning with Cornelius. Let us not forget that God used the mouth of a Jew, the Apostle Peter to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles.
So the first purpose for the stumbling of the Jews in our text today, was to bring salvation to the Gentiles beginning with Cornelius. The second purpose is the end of verse 11 – so as to make Israel jealous.
Right here I want to stop and ask those of us Gentiles here today to ask yourself – have you ever thought of your salvation as a way to make Israel, the Jews, jealous? Now we all understand jealousy, but we usually think of it in a negative sense. Here Paul wants us to see it in a positive way like God tells us about his jealousy for his people that go after idols in Exodus 20:5 for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.
But what are Jews to be jealous of, or for, in us Gentile believers? Simply put – our love for Jesus, their Messiah, is our Messiah – their savior, is our savior. Jesus is holding out his arms to us, saying to Gentiles, in fact to the whole world, to all the nations Matt 11:28 - Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
I am guessing that most of us here today, who believe in Jesus as our savior, have probably not given much thought to making Jews jealous for what we have in Christ? For sure, we want them to know Jesus, but how about making them jealous for Jesus? But, that is what the text says.
I did a little searching on the internet to see how many claim to be Jewish in our area. The little searching I did in Jones and Dubuque County, there are probably less than 100 practicing Jews. How many of us have thought about making any unbeliever jealous of what we have in Christ Jesus? Now for most unbelievers they don’t know what they don’t know, but for Jews -they know of the Messiah, they just don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah.
In verses 13-14, we see Paul speaking directly to Gentile believers in Rome and to all Gentile believers until Christ returns. He says that even though he was an Apostle called to the Gentiles, he magnified his ministry for the purpose of making them, the Jews, jealous. Why does he do this? So that some of his fellow Jews might be saved.
Paul knows it is not he who saves either the Gentiles or his Jewish brothers, but only through faith in Christ. After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus he was brought to Ananias in Damascus. The Lord told Ananias about Paul in Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he (Paul) is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.
While Paul was primarily sent to share the good news to the Gentiles, he was also sent to kings and the children of Israel, the Jews. As such, Paul sought to magnify his ministry to make Jews jealous and save some. Paul wanted the Jews to see his love for, and commitment to, Jesus.
If Paul’s ministry is Jesus, then the more Paul magnifies Jesus, the more both Gentiles and Jews hear the good news of Jesus. How did Paul magnify Jesus in his ministry then? After Paul’s conversion, he was baptized and had something to eat, then we see in Acts 9:20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” The same man who in Acts 9:1 breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, is no longer the same man. He has begun to magnify Jesus in his own life, by his witness in the Jewish synagogue to what Jesus had done. The kindness of Jesus towards him.
Paul goes on to magnify his ministry on three mission trips, including modern day Turkey and into Europe detailed in the book of Acts, in fact, from chapter 13 of Acts to the end of Acts where Paul is in Prison in Rome, we see Paul’s ministry magnified in his witness to both Gentiles and Jews. Paul was God’s chosen instrument to take the message of Jesus to the Gentiles and create jealousy among Jews.
Now we see the benefit for the world in Israel’s failure, that the Gentiles - the nations are blessed in Jesus Christ, and we see that the Gentiles should produce a jealousy for in the Jews for Jesus, but is God’s purpose in the failure of Israel and their rejection just to be jealous?
In verses 12 & 15, Paul is pointing towards something more. In V. 12 Paul makes a statement about Israel in: Romans 11:12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! Then in Romans 11:16 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?
Paul is pointing towards the full inclusion here of all Jews who will believe and have life in Christ Jesus. God is faithful to his people both Jews and Gentiles.
In verse 16 Paul uses 2 metaphors to help us see what this looks like. He starts with Romans 11:16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump. Now normally when we see firstfruits we would think of Christ, and some think that is what Paul means. Many scholars disagree about these metaphors, just who is Paul speaking of? But in the context here of the Jews and Gentiles and salvation, many believe Paul probably has in mind the Jewish forefathers going back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the promises that were made to them.
Paul may be giving us the key to who is who in the last part of Romans 11:28 But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.
The firstfruits metaphor doesn’t really give us much to know for sure who Paul is assigning as firstfruits and who as the whole lump. Paul goes into more detail with the second metaphor regarding the root and branches to help us inform the first metaphor and another clue later in Romans 11:28 But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. Let’s look at Paul’s application of the second metaphor to find more insight into who is who.
In the second metaphor about the olive tree, Paul tells us some of the branches were broken off, implying that these branches were those who stumbled over Jesus, they were part of the tree, and were broken off from the tree. These would be the Jews who did not believe - who did not see Jesus as their savior.
Gentiles – including us here today who believe, Paul describes as wild olive shoots, we were grafted in and now share in the same nourishing root of the olive tree. I knew very little about grafting and olive trees, so I did a little horticulture research and found a several reasons why grafting was done, and it can be very interesting. The one obvious reason for grafting shoots, which is not yet really a branch, is to produce more good fruit.
Here I want you to see the kindness of God - that we Gentile-wild olive shoots can produce, but only when grafted into a cultivated olive tree. Without the nourishing root we are without hope of producing good fruit.
What is that nourishing olive tree root comprised of? Jews that go back to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the nourishing root and following branches of Jews. But some of those branches were broken off for their unbelief. Here we see the severity of God. Literally breaking off those branches of Jews that stumbled over Jesus for their unbelief in him. They were connected to the tree until they were broken off for there unbelief.
Here Paul gives a clear warning to the Gentile, wild olive branches, do not be arrogant toward the branches, the Jews. Remember it is the Jewish root that supports you not the other way around. We are experiencing the blessings promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Now Paul is inspired by the Holy Spirit and he is able to write our wild olive shoot natural response to our being grafted in. We may have a tendency to look down at those fallen Jewish branches and show arrogance to the tree that still supports us and arrogance to those fallen branches on the ground. Paul says, we may say “those branches were broken off so I might be grafted in.” Paul gives the answer saying, that is true. But he describes it the way we should look at it. They were broken off for their unbelief, but we stand fast through faith, and here comes the warning - so do not become proud.
You may think you are grafted in, but you are a wild olive shoot – not yet a branch, but if you produce only the fruit of arrogance, like a wild olive branch, God will not spare you, he will cut you off - so fear God. To be clear here, Paul is not saying that people who believe and are elect are ever broken off the tree whether Jew or Gentile. This is a metaphor and metaphor need to be taken for what they are. Some people want to make the metaphor into more than it is. To produce good fruit you must have faith like Abraham.
We see this clearly stated in Paul’s letter to the Galatians 3:6-9 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
We, Gentiles, need to see both the kindness and severity in God, and if our faith is real, we will produce fruit of the spirit like the kindness we have received from God. That kindness towards others, both unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, should cause them to be jealous of the source of our kindness - the Spirit of Christ in us.
We should display all the fruit of the spirit towards Jews and all unbelievers like those listed in Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
We like Paul should magnify our ministry to make others jealous of what we have - peace with God through Jesus Christ. We magnify our ministry whenever we lift the name of Jesus high. We magnify our ministry when we show the fruit of the spirit is in us in the way we treat others. We want to display the love and kindness God has blessed us with.
Would the people of Cascade, Monticello, Anamosa, Dubuque and the surrounding area be jealous of what we have? Are our unbelieving family and friends jealous of what we have in Jesus. We want all to know the kindness of God in Christ Jesus, but we also remember the severity of God and warn others of the severity of God. Jesus will come again to judge and we don’t want anyone to be found cut off from the eternal blessings found only in Christ Jesus.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! The kindness and severity of God displayed in his plan for saving a people for himself both Jew and Gentile.
Preached at Cornerstone in Cascade, IA on July 8th, 2018.
As always, let us begin this morning with our new July memory verse, Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
As we continue to work our way through the book of Romans, I want to touch on something that I mentioned briefly last week. For those who have been with us for the last several months, you know that Romans 9-11 is primarily about the salvation of the Jews. We have talked extensively about God’s relationship with the Jews. And some of you may be saying to yourselves, or to your spouse, or perhaps to others in the Church, “Enough already. Can’t we hear a sermon about marriage, or a sermon about the blessings of God, or a sermon about how to raise kids?” Some of you may not enjoy these sermons because you do not think they are particularly relevant to you.
If that is you, I want to encourage you to examine your understanding of the primary purpose of the Bible. Last week we looked at Psalm 19 because it was quoted in Romans 10. As I said last week, the first half of Psalm 19 is referencing general revelation. General revelation is God’s revealing himself through Creation. It is general in two ways: It is general in its audience and it is general in its content. Special revelation, on the other hand, is a revealing by God that is special in its audience and special in its content. Perhaps another way to say it is that special revelation is to a specific people with specific information. For general revelation we can look to the sky, but for special revelation we must look in the Book.
The primary purpose of reading, studying, meditating on the Words of God is for the revealing of God. The Bible is God’s specific revelation to His children concerning who he is. The Bible is not primarily a self-help book, the Bible is primarily a display of the glorious attributes of God. Having said that, knowing God better through the reading the Word, will greatly help in all walks of your life, but this is a secondary consequence of knowing the One True God.
When reading the Bible, our first question should be, “What does this tell me about God?” When we read and study about God’s relationship with the Jews we are being exposed to the beauty of who God is in all of his majesty. And from that exposure comes a greater appreciation of God, and greater reverence of God, a greater love for our God, and a greater faith in God. So do not be eager to move past these text, for in them are great treasures of the attributes of God. So with that said, let us read our text, pray and set our eyes upon the Lord.
And as we have seen in our study of Romans 9-11, Israel, this disobedient and contrary people, generally speaking would not come when the general call went out. The Jews were not willing to budge. They were not willing to repent and place their faith in Christ so that they could be reconciled with God.
Stephen, the first Christian Martyr, speaks of this Jewish disobedience and contrariness moments before his death. In Acts 7:51-53 Stephen says to the Jews, “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
As we have learned, the reason for Israel’s rejection is because only those who God effectually calls will ever come to him through Christ. An effectual call always produces the effect of repentance and faith. This call is not general, it is specific and it is irresistible, for it comes in the power of the Holy Spirit. We saw this in Romans 9:12 when Paul explains people are reconciled to God “in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—“ This calling is not a general call, it is an effectual call. A call to a limited amount of people.
Jesus speaks of this calling in John 6:44 when he saw, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” Jesus says it again in John 6:65, “And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” It is the father who draws the sinner to Christ. It is the Father who grants a sinner grace through faith.
And generally speaking, we can confidentially say that God has chosen not to draw the Jews to Jesus. In fact, we can see from our text today, that not only did God choose not to draw the Jews to Jesus he has actively prevented it. Look at verse 8 of our text for this morning, “as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” Then in verse 10, “let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.” Sovereign God is ultimately in control of their spirit of stupor. Sovereign God is ultimately in control of their darkened eyes, their blindness.
God is Faithful
This understanding of Israel’s failure to receive Christ causes Paul to rhetorically ask the question in verse 1, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people?” To this question Paul emphatically says, “By no means!” This phrase “By no means!” is translated to “May it never be!” in the NASB and “God forbid” in the King James. The question that is posed by Paul himself is one of shock. It is unfathomable to think God would reject his people. Why? Because it impugns, or undermines, the nature of a Holy God who has promised over and over again in the Old Testament to never reject his people.
Having said that, the question of Paul's still needs addressing. How can God be faithful and simultaneously reject Israel? We have already looked at one side of the coin regarding that question in Romans 9:6 when Paul says, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,” Meaning, that spiritual Israel is not the same as physical Israel. Some people who are biologically related to Abraham are not spiritually related to Abraham. Or to say it another way, the rejection of Israel is not really the rejection of true spiritual Israel.
In today's text, Paul now examines the other side of that coin and focuses, not on those who are rejected but those who are elected. Paul describes these people in verse 2, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” For those who have been with us for several months, that word “foreknew” should cause you to think back to chapter 8.
Therefore when Paul says that God has not rejected Israel, he qualifies it by saying that the ones he has not rejected are those who are foreknown within the nation of Israel. This would be the positive side of the coin, the true Israel that exists within the visible biological Israel.
To prove his point that God has not rejected true spiritual Israel that exists within visible Israel. He points to his own salvation as evidence. Look at verse 1, “For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. “ Paul is walking proof that God has not rejected visible Israel. In fact, you cannot get anymore visible Israel than Paul. He wore is Jewishness on his sleeve. He is the poster child of the Hebrews. Not only is he physically related to Abraham, he is from one of the two best tribes of Israel, Benjamin.
In Philippians 3:4 Paul expands on how Jewish he really is. Philippians 3:4 says, “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”
Chosen by Grace
So what Paul is saying is, if God was going to reject Israel, I would be the first to be rejected, but he wasn't. Paul was not rejected. In fact the exact opposite of rejection took place; Paul was elected. He was chosen by God himself, set apart while traveling on the road to Damascus, so be a light to the Gentiles. Paul was the most unlikely of people for God to chose, yet he did. Why? Because as we saw in Romans 9:15, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
And we know that this choice by God was not made on the road to Damascus in response to anything that Paul had done. In Galatians 1:15 Paul says that God, “set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.” Paul was chosen by God before he had done anything good or bad, just like we saw with Jacob and Esau in Romans 9:13, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Paul's second proof that God has not rejected his people is by example. Look at verse 2, “Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
Many of you are familiar with this story, but some of you are not. It can be found in 1 Kings 19. The context is that the Prophet of God, Elijah, had just challenged the Prophets' of Baal to a fire from heaven battle. The Prophets of Baal were obviously unsuccessful and Elijah, was of course not. Fire from heaven consumed the offering that Elijah had put forward, as well as the altar itself. After this, Elijah slaughtered all of the Prophets.
This action of killing all of the prophets of Baal upset King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. And Jezebel sent word to Elijah that she was going kill Elijah within 24 hours. This caused Elijah to go on the run, and after a day's journey, Elijah was in great despair and he asked God to take his life. Elijah said to God, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Elijah thought that he was the last man standing, that he was all alone, but he was not. In 1 Kings 19:18 God tells Elijah, “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” Elijah was not alone, but let's be honest, 7,000 people in all of Israel is not many. Lets suppose there were two million Israelites at the time of Elijah, this would mean that less than one percent (0.35%) remained loyal to the One True God.
And why did they remain loyal? Romans 11:4, “I have kept for myself seven thousand men.” The only reason that they were devoted to God and not to the false God of Baal is because God had kept them. It was because of God's power, it was because God had chosen those 7,000.
And Paul argues in Romans 11, that just like in the days of Elijah, God has kept, or chosen, a remnant of Jews for himself. God has chosen a remnant to draw to his son, Jesus. First it was the 12 disciples, then the 120 after his death and resurrection, than 3,000 at Pentecost, then the number climbed to 10,000, then 20,000, And today it is estimated that there are up to 350,000 Jews who place their faith in Jesus Christ. That sounds like a lot, but it is still a remnant. For world wide there are approximately 14.5 million Jews, which equates to only only 2.5 percent who put their faith in Jesus as their Messiah, which still is only a remnant.
And why do these 350,000 Jews of today believe that Jesus is the Messiah? God chose them by grace. Look at verse 5, “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” Their salvation is based on absolutely nothing they did. Their salvation is entirely, and completely a gift. It is God's unconditional election. Not based only anything, but God's Ultimate and Sovereign free will. And this is true for the remnant and it is true for all of us who place our faith in Jesus. Our relationship with God, from beginning to end, is dependent upon God drawing us, granting us, and keeping us in Christ.
This is what grace means. It is a gift of God. And we cannot think of it any other way, for as it says in verse 6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”
It is so sad to see so many people turn grace into works. By doing so, they destroy grace and undermine their hope for salvation in Christ. You are not save through baptism, your are not saved through confession, your are not saved through the Eucharist, you are not saved through prayers to the saints, you are not saved by attending Church, for if you were, grace would not longer be grace, and you would would be just another person bending your knee to Baal. God gets all the glory for our salvation, praise be to God.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 1st, 2018.
Let us begin this morning with our new July memory verse, Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” It is my hope that this verse will be, not just the Apostle Paul’s view of God, but your view of God once we reach the end of chapter 11.
Today, we are going to continue our study on Romans 10:14-21. Today is, in a way, part two of last week’s sermon, and it actually is three sermons squished into one, for those are some deep truths in our text today that I will only be skimming over. So with that said, let us read out text for this morning. Please stand in honor of the reading of God’s inspired and inerrant Word.
This leads to the question, why would someone call on Jesus? The first half of verse 14 tells us, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?” The reason someone would call on Jesus to save them is because they believe. Believe in what? Two things: 1) believe that you are a sinner under the wrath of God, and 2) that Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection is the complete and sufficient payment for your sin and possesses the righteousness you need to enter into God’s presence.
Which leads to the next question, how would someone come to this belief? The second half of verse 14 answers that question, “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” The way you believe is through gospel proclamation. People have to hear the message of their sin and the message of Jesus Christ. Just as it says in last month’s memory verse, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”
Which leads to the next question, how would someone hear the Word of Christ, the gospel? The last part of verse 14 says, “And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” We must preach it. As it says in Romans 10:8, this is the “word of faith that we proclaim” We must proclaim the gospel. No one becomes a Christian by your good example, people become Christians through sharing the gospel. This is why we just completed our third evangelism class over a six year period hear at Cornerstones.
Which leads us to the last question in the series, why would anyone go and preach the gospel? What is their motivation? Verse 16 answers that question, “And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” The motivation to preach the gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ sends his followers to proclaim. And when we proclaim, Jesus finds this specific act of obedience a thing of beauty.
Which leads us into our second half of our Scripture for today, verses 18-21? And this morning I have decided to provide a little bit of alliteration to assist in your understanding of the text this morning. We will be examining three aspects of proclaiming the gospel: Gospel Prominence, Gospel Purpose, and Gospel Patience…Gospel Prominence, Gospel Purpose, and Gospel Patience.
So let us begin by look at the Gospel’s Prominence. Look with me at verse 18, “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
If you recall, Romans, chapters 9-11 is dealing with two primary issues: 1) Israel’s unbelief, and 2) Whether the Word of God has failed. As we saw, most biological Jews do not accept Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. Which leads to the questions, how can Jesus be the Messiah if the “experts” (Israel) rejects him.
In dealing with those issues, as we have seen, the Apostle Paul lays out an immense amount of theological depth such as election and reprobation; as well as breaking down the basics of evangelism, specifically faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone. However, we can’t lose sight of the original issue the Apostle Paul is addressing in Chapters 9-11, Israel’s unbelief and the trustworthiness of the Word of God.
So when Paul says in verse 18, “have they not heard”, he is speaking about Israel; “has [Israel] not heard.” What is Paul talking about? Heard what? Verse 17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. “ So Paul is saying, if faith comes from hearing, has Israel not heard the Word of Christ, since they don’t believe. If faith springs from gospel proclamation, are we to assume that no one has shared the gospel with Israel?
To that question Paul says in verse 18, “Indeed they have.” Paul says that Israel, has heard the gospel. They have heard the Word of Christ. And the foundation that Paul uses to support this statement is “for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
What is interesting about this, is that this foundation is a quote from Psalm 19. Many of you are familiar with Psalm 19. Let me read to you verses 1-4, which includes Paul’s quotation: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
These verses are in reference to what is called general revelation. General revelation means the revelation of God to all humanity through Creation. Paul touched on this in Romans 1:20 when he said, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”
However, when Paul quotes Psalm 19 in Romans 10, he is not using it for the purpose of general revelation; he is speaking about specific revelation. He is speaking about the preaching of the Gospel. Paul is using Psalm 19 as an analogy, or an example of the global prominence of the gospel.
I don’t want to take this too far, but what I find interesting is if we keep reading Psalm 19:4-6 it says, “Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” The focus in these verses in Psalm 19 is the sun (S-U-N), the sun is compared to a Bridegroom, and not just any Bridegroom, but a strong Bridegroom, one that willfully leaves his chamber, and sets upon a God ordained course that he joyfully embraces.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like another strong man I know, the Son of Man (S-O-N), aka the Son of God. John 8:12 refers to Jesus as the Light of the World. John 3:29 refers to Jesus as the Bridegroom. John 17 and Philippians 2 speak of leaving the Chamber of His Father's presence. John Hebrews 1:2 says, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” Hebrews 12:2 says, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,”
Ultimately, the full and complete revelation of who God is, is found in his Son, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,”
But where is Christ now? Christ is at the right hand of the father. So is the light of Christ no longer running its course in this world? Indeed it is, the light of Christ is now in all followers of Christ.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:3, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
We, as followers of Christ, the the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the the word of god in our mouth and in our heart, are sent out into the world to shine the light of Christ for all the world to see, so that no one can hide from its heat.
And this global gospel did not stop there. It spread like wildfire throughout the nations. Paul himself says in Colossians 1:5-6, “Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing” And this truth still rings true today. The Word of faith, the gospel of our salvation can be found in all corners of this world. This is gospel prominence, and you cannot deny its global dominance in the world. God's Word will not return void, it will accomplish what it set out to do.
But what does this Gospel prominence have to do with Israel’s salvation? Interestingly, it has a lot to do with Israel. Let us know think about Gospel Purpose as it relates to Israel. Look at verse 19, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
This verse is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:21. It is a verse that is a part of what is called the Song of Moses. It is a song that Moses sang at the end of his life that was from the Lord and prophetic over the nation of Israel. Let me read some of the context around the verse that was quoted by Paul. Deuteronomy 32:19-21, “The LORD saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. 20And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. 21 They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.”
God in his omnipotence, looked upon Israel, past, present and future, and new they would be a perverse people. God knew that Israel would be unfaithful to him for thousands of years. God knew that they would turn to others gods, who are no gods. And in response to this, he would turn his grace towards another people, who are no people. This phrase “who are no people” is just another way to say gentiles.
Therefore, one of the reasons, not the only reason, but one of the reasons the Gospel has gone out to the nations is in response to Israel's spiritual adultery. And this turning to the Gentiles with the gospel was for the purpose of making Israel jealous. It was for provoking Israel to anger. Paul will speak about this again in Romans 11:11-12 , “Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean! 13Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.”
Once again, don’t forget what the issue is in Romans 9-11. Israel’s salvation and whether the Word of God has failed. Paul points out over and over again that, no, the Word of God has not failed one single bit. Everything that God said would happen is happening. The Word of God is proving true. Israel does not believe because God has turned to a foolish nation, because of their spiritual adultery. This is then reinforced by Paul in Romans 10:20 with the quote from Isaiah which says, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
So let us ask the question, is this true? Has God’s plan worked? Are the Jews jealous because gentiles claim Jesus as Messiah? Absolutely. Remember, the Jews have been waiting for the Messiah ever since they began with Abraham. However, for the last two thousand years the gentiles have been proclaiming that we have their Messiah. That we possess him. He is ours. The Jews want the Messiah, but don't have him, because they have rejected him. They are jealous of what we have.
And as the gospel continues to spread, as the ministry of the Great Commission is magnified, more and more and more, the Jews become more and more and more jealous, as the gentiles nations all claim their Messiah as their own. And this will continue until the age of the Gentiles has come to an end. This is a gospel purpose as it relates to Israel.
Having said all this, we see something very interesting in verse 21, Gospel Patience. Look at verse 21, “But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” And with this statement we see the complexity of a Sovereign and Loving God.
We just got done unpacking Romans 9, whereby it says that salvation depends upon God's election, and that God is the potter, and that God has mercy on whom he wills and hardens whom he wills. We just finished unpacking that God has chosen to turn to the gentiles for the purpose of making Israel jealous, and now we read that God stands with arms wide open saying come? This seems mutually exclusive, but it is not. This is exactly what Scripture teaches. And it is commonly described as the two wills of God. And by two wills of God I am not claiming that God is schizophrenic, I am merely saying that God plays both sides of the fence in dealing with rebellious people and displaying his glorious grace.
In understanding God's two wills, we must remember that God has a sovereign will whereby only those whom he has chosen will be saved, and simultaneously He has a will that all would be saved. This sounds contradictory, but it is not, it is Biblical. In fact we see the two wills of God all over the Scriptures. One easy example is God's will of murder, Thou Shall not Murder. Yet simultaneously God ordained the murder of his own son. This is not a paradox, it is merely the reality when you are sovereign and you desire to display your grace to a rebellious people, two wills must be utilized to achieve this end.
We do not have time to unpack the two wills of God this morning, I merely want create a doctrinal category for this text to put your thoughts into; but if you are curious just google it and read some articles by John Piper, watch the video by RC Sproul, or read some articles listed on monergism.com.
For today's purpose I want us to focus on the patience of God in keeping his hands open to Israel, a contrary and disobedient people for nearly 4000 years. God does not need Israel, and Israel does not deserve God, yet God stands at the door and knocks... and he knocks...and he knocks. And some day, as we will examine in the weeks to come, Israel will open the door to Jesus as their Lord and Savior and invite him in.
And when this happens, the glory of God in the grace of God will perhaps shine at its peak due to the unending steadfastness and faithfulness of God's love for his people.