God’s plan is truly incredible as we see Him work through history in redeeming a people to Himself. The grace of God through Christ is the central message of the Bible. This message from Romans chapter 11 shows how this grace has been extended to us and how we are to live in response.
Romans: The Glory of the Gospel Part 27
Grace to all Nations – Romans 11:11-24
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – April 15th, 2018
- In the first part of chapter 11, Paul communicates how God works in choosing for Himself a people who respond to His grace. These people understand that they are not good enough, they are not pure or righteous and they call to God to receive His forgiveness through grace made available because of Christ. They receive forgiveness and the righteousness that comes in being in Christ and stand “saved” from the coming judgment.
- The rest of the people, including both those who are religious and those who are not, do not call on God to ask for His grace because they think they are good enough and righteous based upon their own effort. God gives these people over to their way of living and in so doing they become hardened to the love and grace of God, which also included the people of Israel.
- In the passage for today, Paul continues to unfold how God interacts with the Jewish nation and His covenant with them and how His plan for salvation is being fulfilled for all the nations.
God’s sovereign plan of salvation
Rom 11:11-12 ESV
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!
- The people of Israel stumbled over Christ, who is the “stumbling” stone. They were not destroyed liked other nations (Philistines, Hittites, Babylonians, etc.) – they did not “fall” but only “stumbled” because God had made promises to them as a people. Their trespass was they believed they were righteous by their own merit. They stumbled over their need for a savior and the grace of God given through Jesus’s life, death and resurrection.
- The Jewish people by and large rejected God’s grace through Christ. The gospel did go to them first (first to the Jew and then to the Gentile) and because they rejected it, the message of salvation went out to the rest of the world. God’s plan continued to move forward despite their disobedience. Because of their disobedience God’s plan for the gospel to go to the Gentiles now included making Israel jealous that God showed his grace and favor to others. (The way we live our lives should cause others to want what we personally and collectively have).
- Israel was to be a blessing to the world, even in their disobedience in persisting in their own way, the rest of the world was blessed. (riches = salvation, not money). If they would have obeyed, received, and believed – the world would have been more blessed if they would have done so! God’s plan will move forward with or without you. We have opportunity to join in His plan and play a part in what He is doing in the world.
Rom 11:13-16 ESV
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?
- Paul “magnifies his ministry”, he works to make his ministry larger so that the Jews would be jealous of what was happening and what they had. How many churches grow so that other churches would be jealous? We should be “magnifying the ministry” so those outside the church see what is going on and want what we have.
- Look at how they love one another – Ill. of my brother – so let’s love and serve each other well. May the love, peace and joy between us cause others who are on the outside to want to come be a part of what we have – this is why the enemy works so hard to divide us – this is why the Bible speaks to how we are to live with each other so often – that we live in grace, truth and love with each other – so that others will be saved.
- Israel’s rejection of the gospel meant reconciliation of the world. Israel’s full acceptance will mean the nations would come alive with the message of the Gospel.
- Next, Paul continues to make his point through the illustration of olive trees and how God has “grafted” the Gentiles into the promises to Israel.
Gentiles grafted in through faith
Rom 11:16-18 ESV
If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 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.
- If the source is holy, then everything that grows from it is holy as well.Everything that comes from the covenant and promise of God through belief will produce good fruit.
- Those of Israel who did not believe in Christ were broken off from the “tree of faith” and the covenant of God. Then those of the “wild olive tree” (Gentiles) were grafted into the “tree of faith” through belief in Christ.
- If you are a Gentile believer, don’t think you are better than the Jewish people. Don’t look down on them and don’t hate them (anti-Semitism). You need to remember that the Christian faith grew from the promise of God to the forefathers of Israel. God’s work through Israel supports us, we don’t support it. So, there should be an honoring of God’s working through Israel, not a bias of harm and hatred for them.
Rom 11:19-20 ESV
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 stand in awe.
- Jewish people were broken off from the tree of faith because they did not believe (not to make room for you, because you are so special). They were broken off because they refused to believe in Christ and call on Him for grace. Our main response should never be arrogance or pride, but we are to have our focus on continuing to “stand fast through faith”. We are to focus on building up our faith and remaining strong in our faith. (Jesus in John 15 – the vine and the branches). We should stand in awe of God of what He has done and how He has extended His grace even to us and know that if God broke them off because of their unbelief, He could do the same to us as well!
Rom 11:21-22 ESV
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.
- We need to understand God’s kindness and His severity. He is full of grace, and He is full of truth. His grace extends to those with faith in His Son, His grace does not extend to those who do not believe. (This means that not everyone will be with God in His eternal kingdom – again Jesus bears this out in John 15 – there is a heaven and there is a hell). There is severity to those who have fallen, and there is kindness to those who continue in the faith – there is a perseverance of the faith that is required of the people of faith – so that we are found “in Him”.
Rom 11:23-24 ESV
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.
- Know also, that those who change from unbelief to belief will be grafted in as well, because God has the power to do this (God can give life to what is not alive). The Jewish people will more easily be grafted back into the tree to produce fruit in the completion of their faith in Christ.
Application and Conclusion
- Know that God will complete His plan with or without you. You are invited to partner with Him in what He is doing – and no one or nothing will stop His plan for the nations. So, choose to partner with Him in His work in the world. There is a blessing in it in so many ways!
- Partnering with God in His plan for the salvation of the world impacts our local context by making people desire what we have in Christ; that we will be people who persevere, who have grace, love, peace and joy; that we would love each other deeply from the heart. So much so that when people look at our lives individually and collectedly, they will want to join us. Do whatever you can to remove anything that separates. Intentionally connect with and serve others in love. This will influence those who are watching from the outside.
- Recognize that God has worked His covenant plan through faith in Him from the Old Testament into the New Testament. Don’t think you are better than national Jews because you have faith in Christ and they don’t. Live so they too may see the grace of God working in your life and be thankful for their faith – don’t be arrogant and prideful – stand in awe of God and what He has done and what He is doing in your life and in the life of the people of Israel.
- Continue in the kindness of God – continue to believe and stand in your faith – being connected to Christ and the grace of God through faith.
Questions for the week ahead:
- How have you been encouraged and challenged by the message from today?
- How will what you heard today change the way you think and live?