Posted by Gabrielle
On Sundays for the past 7 months or so we have been enjoying a series of sermons in the book of Romans given by our pastor and elders. Before launching into each chapter we have an overview of that chapter and in the following sermons we touch on the fine points. This past Sunday (4/6) we had the overview of Romans chapter 11 which I especially enjoyed. I want to share a few of my notes and the points I learned.
"The Jews were a stubborn, stiff-necked and rebellious people. Repeatedly they saw the works of the Lord and nonetheless rejected Him. But the question arises: 'Has God cast away the Jews?' And Paul's vehement answer is, 'Certainly not!' If God's word failed for the Jews what does that imply about it? God has certainly not cast away His people, and Paul opens the chapter with several examples.
Example 1: Himself. If you are wondering what I am talking about it would help to think of what Paul was before God arrested him on the road to Damascus. He was a persecutor of the Jews saved by God's grace alone. Whenever I think of Paul and his life I always recall a paragraph of the inscription on John Newton's tombstone
" John Newton, Clerk,
Once an infidel and libertine,
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior,
Preserved, restored, pardoned,
And appointed to preach the faith
He had long labored to destroy..."
Example 2: Elijah. It was after the offerings on Mount Carmel that Elijah is feeling forsaken and all alone and he pleads "Lord, They have killed your prophets, they have torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life." And Paul continues with his argument, "But what is the divine response to him? 'I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.' " (Romans 11: 3-4)
Basically what Paul is saying here is that God has not forsaken His people but has reserved a remnant for Himself. Which leads me to...
Example 3: The Elect. "In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice." (Romans 11: 5) God has preserved for Himself a remnant on this earth: His elect. Though the elect are but a small portion of the population don't underestimate their value, for God works His mighty deeds through His elect. Paul goes on to talk about our state before our salvation: we are in a spirit of stupor. God was the only one who could pluck us from our spirit of stupor and grant to us a spirit of enlightenment. The same with Israel. There was and is no hope for Israel until God removes their spirit of stupor and opens their eyes.
"I say then, they[Israel] did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them[Israel] jealous." (Romans 11:11) Paul uses the example of grafting to illustrate his point; branches[the Gentiles] were grafted into the line of salvation. Think about God's plan here. He chooses to save some Gentiles and brings them into a position of spiritual enlightenment and living real life and the Jews see that; God chooses to save Gentiles, the unclean, and it provokes them to jealousy. The branch of Israel God broke off, but He is just as able to graft it in again. God has given blindness of heart to Israel until His perfect time.
So, if God's word failed for the Jews what would that imply about it? Well, what Paul sums up in this chapter and the two preceding ones is that God's Word has not failed for the Jews and it has not failed for us. We are saved through grace alone and preserved as His remnant in His perfect time.
Paul closes the chapter with his mighty doxology "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable His ways!...For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."