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Romans 11

October 30th, 2011 by Vic

Romans 11

October 30, 2011

“God’s Mercy”

 

As I read the chapter it seems like the focus is on God’s mercy.  Chapter 9 focused on the sovereignty of God.  Chapter 10 focused on the responsibility of man.  Now Paul turns our focus to the mercy of God.  Paul feels that God’s mercy is so great that all will want to trust Him, obey and love Him.

 

God’s ways have not changed.  The way He treated the Jews and Gentiles in the Roman world is the same way He treats all nations in our world today.  Just as God has demonstrated his love to the entire world, He is also demonstrating His mercy.  Just as our only choice when confronted with the love of God is to receive or reject it, so our only choice when confronted with His mercy is to accept it or reject it.

 

What does this mean for us today?  Chapters 12-16 explain how it changes our whole life style.  God has not quit loving.  God does not want anyone to self-destruct.  When God let’s sinners keep on sinning, He still offers mercy.  How does God motivate sinners to repent?  How can God change the proud to humble?  How can God change the selfish to compassionate?  He sent Jesus to live with us and He sent Christians to live like Jesus throughout the world.

Paul hopes that the Jews will be jealous when they see God’s blessing on the Gentile believers.  Have you noticed small children can have 50 toys in the box or on the floor and the one they want is the one the other child has?  Selfish jealousy motivates a change in behavior.  In this chapter Paul says that God will use believers to make the unbelievers jealous.

 

11:1-10

Has God rejected every individual Jew?  Has God run out of patience with stupid people who reject Him or has He pushed the Jews aside in favor of the Gentiles?  Paul says, “Of course not.  He had mercy on me.”  Their rejection does not change God’s commitment to them.  God knew their character when He chose them.  He is not surprised by our stupidity.  His love is unchanged.

 

Paul quotes Elijah.  Elijah did not see the big picture.  He thought he was the only faithful friend that God had in his neighborhood.  He thought God needed him.  He thought he was God’s anointed to fight the worldwide war against terror.  He was reminded that there never was a time when the whole nation was true to God.  There have always been faithful believers and selfish unbelievers.

 

God says, “It’s not about you.”  The gospel is God’s story.  Others do not have to fit your description of a Christian family member.  They may not dress like you, attend church like you, eat the same food, or survive in the desert like you.  God said He has reserved 7,000.  There are always 7,000 who reject the world’s ways and live by the promise of God.

 

God’s ways are still the same.  From the very beginning God knew that some would reject His grace, but He would still show mercy to them.  Now as then (5) there is a believing remnant who are declaring God’s mercy to all nations.

 

God’s original choice/election of Israel still holds true in the ‘now time’ because it was an election of grace and did not depend of Israel’s works.  God’s grace and mercy have not changed.  No ritual or keeping of the law can earn God’s favor today nor did they earn God’s favor for Abraham.  God is using that Jewish misunderstanding of the promise to bring the gospel to the Gentiles so Gentiles can make the Jews jealous.

 

There is an interesting word in 11:7 that is translated hardened and was also used to describe kidney stones and calluses.  Paul is comparing the Jews who refused to respond to the gospel as having hearts like kidney stones or insensitive calluses.  Later in the chapter Paul says there will be a fantastic celebration when the Jews lose their calluses and accept the gospel.

 

The elect who receive God’s gift of grace will receive what the Jewish nation was looking for.  Those who reject God’s love and grace begin to self-destruct.

 

Times have not changed much.  To this very day the danger of sin spirals downhill as God gives sinners a spirit of apathy, blindness, and deafness (8).

 

What Israel thought was true of the Gentiles (9-10) is now true of the Jews.

 

11:11-24

Is there such a thing as an unpardonable sin?

 

Not from God’s point of view.  When Jesus talked of the unpardonable sin He was talking with some religious leaders who had just accused Him of performing miracles by the power of Satan.  When you come to a place in your life when you cannot tell the difference between Jesus and Satan you are in trouble.  When you cannot tell the difference between good and bad how can God convict you of sin?

 

Swindol wrote about a pastor friend that came to him and asked if God will forgive all sin.  The obvious answer is yes.  Swindol asked what he was referring to.  This friend said he had decided to divorce his wife, marry this other woman, and then ask God’s forgiveness.  Could God forgive that?  After the initial shock, Swindol responded that God would definitely forgive him, but he would not ask for forgiveness.  Sin had already begun to harden the man’s heart.  He did not see how much his sin would hurt the heart of God.

 

If you don’t feel sorry for your sins, God can’t forgive you.

 

God wants your Christian life to be Christlike.  God wants your life to be convicting so people don’t tell dirty jokes when you are around.  God wants your life to make sinners jealous of what you have.  You are the child with the life joy (toy) that is attractive to everyone else.

 

If Israel’s refusal (12) can be used by God to bring the blessing of the gospel to all nations, how great will be the glory when the Jews respond to God’s grace.  Maybe it is like your sin causing your mom and dad to spend a lot of time in prayer for you.  They grow spiritually because of your stupidity.  How blessed they will be when you choose to follow Jesus.

 

From the very beginning God called Abraham to be a blessing to all the nations.  God can prosper Abraham in ways to be a blessing to many.  God can also use the disobedience of the Jews to be a blessing to all the nations.

 

Paul has made his ministry to Gentiles very public so the Jews back in Jerusalem could not ignore it.  Paul is not preaching to the Gentiles in a corner.  He is writing letters.  He is explaining how God is drawing all men to Himself.  Paul is trying to make the Jews jealous because he believes that their jealousy could motivate them to soften their hearts toward the gospel.

 

11:15

Think of how much rejoicing there will be when the Jews follow Jesus.  It will be like a resurrection from the dead.  God has used Israel’s rejection and He will use their acceptance even more.

 

11:16

God uses Christian Gentiles like He uses first fruits.  The first fruits were brought to the temple to be offered to the Lord making the whole harvest holy and blessed.  Also when a little tree was planted, it could be dedicated to the Lord and thus the whole tree was dedicated.  You did not have to rededicate each limb as it grew.

 

Abraham’s faith could also be considered the root of the tree.  God did not start a new tree with Gentiles.  The original tree is Israel.  Gentiles were wild olives growing unattended and uncontrolled while God was cultivating Israel.  God does the pruning and grafting.

 

11:17

There is no room for pride on the part of the Jew or Gentile.  God is the gardener.  The Jews who did not accept the gospel were broken off by God.  The wild Gentiles were grafted in.  The wild olive will enjoy the same life from the root. The root determines the vitality and quality of the branches.

 

The olive tree was the most widely cultivated tree in the Mediterranean area.  Unlike other trees, it was common to graft wild olive shoots on to cultivated trees.  The purpose of that grafting would be to rejuvenate the tree.  The common belief was that an olive tree produced better if it had a few wild branches.  The wild olive was usually unproductive.  The Gentile believers should not be proud (18) but thankful.  Their connection to the root depended solely on God’s grace.

 

God did not start all over with a new tree.  He did not turn the tree upside down and make the Gentiles the root of the Jewish salvation.  He has not abandoned the tree.

 

11:20-21

Don’t presume on God and make the same mistake of Israel.  You must not have pride in your status, but the fear of God.  Not the fear of man or terrorists.  You do not have a right to be saved.  You don’t have a right to God’s favor.  You do not have a right to God’s grace.

 

When grace is perverted into presumption, faith becomes unfaith.  True faith depends solely on God’s kindness, not my position, possession, or actions.

 

The plan is that Gentiles are Christlike so Jews can see Jesus in them.  God’s plan has not changed.  He wants the world to see Jesus in your life.  You want your friends to be saved.  Do they see Jesus in you?

 

We too quickly forget that we are branches and God is the Gardener.

 

11:22-24

It is important to remember who you are and who God is.

 

11:25-27

The mystery is that God’s intention from the beginning was to include all nations

 

Paul wants all Christians to know that it is dangerous to feel proud and start bragging.  There are evil people in the world, but God can save them, maybe through your testimony.  God still loves them and is merciful.

 

Israel has experienced a partial hardening, but in God’s time all the children of Jacob will be saved.  The “all” in vs. 26 means all Israel as a whole.  Not just the tribe of Judah and Benjamin.  This salvation will come from Zion/Jerusalem and atone for all sin.

 

11:28-32

Paul again mentions the mercy of God.  Think a little about mercy.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”  Mercy is God’s attitude that faithfully keeps his promises and maintains his covenant relationship with his chosen people despite their unworthiness and unfaithfulness.  Mercy involves kindness, goodness, grace, pity, compassion, and love.  It is usually a superior showing mercy to a lesser.  God is rich in mercy.

 

God will not take back His gift of covenant privileges and salvation.  He will have mercy on THE all (32).  Paul does not include a precise agenda or schedule of coming events.  He points out the irony that Gentile disobedience did not disqualify them from mercy, but what ‘qualified’ them to receive mercy was Jewish disobedience.

 

God is faithful.  The faith of man is not mentioned.

 

11:33-36

Think about the measureless majesty of God’s mercy.  God’s resources are limitless and neither Jew nor Gentile Christian has begun to experience their full potential.  We only get a passing glance into the mysteries of God’s mercy.  Man’s mind is limited and when we reach that limit we can only trust and adore.

 

How can you measure when all your tapes are too short?  How can you see everything while only seeing in one dimension?  How can you penetrate vertically when you only live horizontally?

 

11:34  Who can give God advise?

 

11:35  How can you bribe God?  How can you put God in your debt?  What does God owe you?

 

11:36  From Him, through Him, to Him are all things.  What will you do about it?

 

God is great.  God is merciful toward you.  How will you respond?  Romans 12:1

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