Romans Chapter 11

Part 5

KLMX December 2009

Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church

Des Moines, NM

[Intro]

[Prayer]

We are going to finish up with Romans chapter 11 today. This chapter focuses on the role of Israel in the Christian church. Paul started off this section by asking the question:

Romans 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people…

And answers it himself with:

Romans 11:1 … Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

As we’ve seen through this chapter, salvation of individual people is by grace and always has been. Don’t get entire nations confused with salvation of individuals. As Paul said earlier in Romans:

Romans 9:6-8 For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, (7) nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED." (8) That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.

"They are not all Israel who are of Israel", Paul says and then goes on to show that of the seed of Abraham, only the children of the promise are called and counted as the seed. Furthermore, we saw in this chapter that salvation is by grace alone. Note carefully the language of:

Romans 11:4 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."

Here’s Paul using a quote from 1 Kings in which God says "I have reserved for myself 7,000 men…" The passage does not say "There are 7,000 men…" That wording would leave it open for the men to take credit themselves. Instead, it says "I have reserved for myself…", thereby putting full credit at God’s hand. Salvation is of the Lord, not of the will and desire of man. This point is critical for understanding Romans 11 because if we think that we have made some decision or we have initiated salvation ourselves, then we can become boastful of our actions and look down at those who have not come to Christ. Paul warned against this in:

Romans 11:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Refusal to accept grace as wholly God’s action can easily lead us to being "wise in our opinion". And now, we are ready to look at today’s passage, which tells us the eventual result of Israel.

Romans 11:26-36 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; (27) FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." (28) Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. (29) For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (30) For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, (31) even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. (32) For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. (33) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (34) "FOR WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD? OR WHO HAS BECOME HIS COUNSELOR?" (35) "OR WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM AND IT SHALL BE REPAID TO HIM?" (36) For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Once again, Paul uses a quote from the Jewish scriptures when he says ""THE DELIVERER WILL COME OUT OF ZION, AND HE WILL TURN AWAY UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB; FOR THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." This is not an exact quote but combines several texts into one to show a concept. It comes most closely from Isaiah 59. The point here is to show from the Scriptures that there is prophesized a deliverer who will come out of Zion. The second point is to show that this is a covenant. It is something that God had declared will happen to His people.

Paul says that this covenant will come to pass because "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Yesterday I talked a little about loss of salvation and this passage bears upon that topic, too. When people believe that they have contributed something toward their salvation- that is, they’d say a prayer and then God gives them salvation as a result, or maybe they’ve cleaned themselves up and then presented themselves to God for the final buff and polish, or if they contribute in any way to their salvation, then it becomes easy to doubt the effectiveness of those actions. Did I pray the right words? Was my heart really sincere? Are my works good enough? And so on. But, when we look at Scripture we see a much more positive path. From Ephesians 2 we can see that saving faith itself is not from us:

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

If God gives us faith resulting in salvation, and if "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable", then it is impossible for one to lose their salvation. It is possible- probable!- for one to grieve the Holy Spirit, and probable that one will require correction and discipline from God, but it is impossible for one to lose the salvation that was given them by God. It is probable that a faith based in oneself will fail, and it is probable that a faith based on religious works will also fail, but it is impossible for one to lose the faith that was given them by God. That faith is a gift that is irrevocable. That means it can’t be taken back nor can it be given back. And since this faith is not a result of works of any kind, then it comes totally and fully by God’s grace.

Some people find this very discouraging. They want to have something to do with their salvation and they want to feel in control. Others recognize that God’s wisdom is far superior to their and that trust in God is always the better course. This is the kind of trust that Paul has. Watch his next statements and see if you agree:

Romans 11:30-33 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, (31) even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. (32) For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. (33) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Note that Paul doesn’t say something like this: "these disobedient people are just going to have to clean themselves up and get back on the right road!" No, he says "For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all". Paul is resting secure in God’s mercy. This gives him such confidence that he breaks out in doxology with his statement:

(33) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

It’s often said that "theology leads to doxology". That is, a study of God leads to praise of God. I think Paul certainly showed the truth of that phrase!

So, what we end up with is Paul’s statement that Israel, as a nation, is currently disobedient toward the gospel. They are "enemies of the gospel" but nevertheless, God’s covenant with them stands. God has not entirely cast away His people- some of them are indeed saved and come to Christ. Paul was one of those, as were all the early disciples. At some point in time- when the fullness of the Gentiles has come- then Israel’s eyes will be opened and they will see the truth that is Jesus Christ.

Paul’s hope is not in human acts or human obedience. Paul’s hope is in the mercy of God. As such, he can’t help but break out in doxology:

Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (34) "FOR WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD? OR WHO HAS BECOME HIS COUNSELOR?" (35) "OR WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM AND IT SHALL BE REPAID TO HIM?" (36) For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

As we finish up our short survey of Romans chapter 11, I have to ask- where is your faith? Does it like in yourself and in works that you’ve done? Or does it lie, like Paul’s, entirely in the grace and mercy of God Almighty?

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, …

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