God works all things together for the good of His people and to His glory.
Romans 11:11 “So I ask, did they (Israel) 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.”
As believers, we hang onto such promises in God’s Word as Paul gave in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God is never absent from His own work, and He is certainly not negligent in His own purposes. When Paul asks the rhetorical question as to whether or not Israel’s rebellion occurred so that the Jews might be excluded from God’s kingdom, Paul reminds us that this is certainly not the end of the story. As a matter of fact, he speaks to us of two wonderful things that God is doing through this tragedy: the Gentiles have been grafted into God’s family, and the Lord is not finished with the Jewish nation. Fellow believer, we must continually allow God’s Word, as well as our own histories, remind us that He has a purpose in all things, and in all things He is working for His glory and our good. We should always remember Joseph’s words to his brothers after years of their abuse in Genesis 50:20, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” God didn’t “turn it into good.” God “meant it for good.” He purposed that evil for good, and He is at work still today toward the same end.
Study/Meditation: What instances in your life can you remember where God worked something seemingly horrible for His glory and your good? Where in your life now must you apply this remembrance so as not to despair your circumstances?
*Father, forgive me for the times that I doubt Your goodness and Your sovereign working purposes. Thank You for giving me experience and Your Word as reminders of this great truth. Amen.
God’s grace is all the more glorious in the fact that it is given to any of us.
Romans 11:7b-10 “The elect obtained it (salvation), but the rest were hardened, 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.’ And David says, ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.’”
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33) If there was anyone who knew that what he was claiming was hard to understand, hard to accept, it was the apostle Paul. And yet he did not hesitate to recognize all of God’s “god-ness,” holding none of His holy attributes at bay in favor of human sensibilities. Just as God draws His elect out and makes them His, He will give others over to their sinfulness and harden their hearts. We may not understand fully why, truly we cannot understand fully why, but we likewise cannot deny that it is so. God does all that He does to display His glory, and we simply must not ignore the most important aspect of this: the fact that any of us are His is fully and completely owed to His grace. All of us deserve to be left in our sin, to be left to hearts that are hardened already, but God bestows on His children the gift of salvation. The fact that He gives this grace to any of us makes it all the more glorious. He has reserved for Himself a remnant. In that we must rejoice as we pray for those who do not know.
Study/Meditation: Where in the Bible have you read that God hardened the hearts of some in order to display His glory? (Hint: Read Genesis 6-14) What does this tell you about God’s purposes in all things?
*Father, give me a heart of humility when I don’t understand Your ways. Your ways are marvelously higher than mine. I praise Your name! Amen.
In all things, including salvation, it is always God first.
Romans 11:7a “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it.”
In this one simple verse Paul speaks to three very important things. First, he reiterates that the nation of Israel failed in their attempts to earn salvation by keeping the Law. There is no way, no matter how many rules and regulations one keeps in trying to be righteous in God’s eyes, can any person keep them all. Why? As Paul wrote in Romans 3:10, “None is righteous, no, not one.” The first point is that Israel, and anyone else in this category, failed to gain salvation through works. The second point is in calling God’s children “the elect.” Those whom God has chosen, His “drawn out” ones, are saved. God is sovereign, and He is sovereign over salvation. He elects. But there is activity required by the elect, and that is the third point—the elect can then “obtain” salvation. The dictionary defines “obtain” as “gaining possession of; to get or to procure something.” (dictionary.com) All those who believe on the name of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as Savior will be saved. Belief is absolutely necessary and it is the avenue by which we “obtain” salvation, not works. However, it is the elect who can obtain. God first; man second. Once again Paul simply says that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, and not a matter of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Study/Meditation: How might you explain to someone the “order of salvation”? What is the significance of man’s belief?
*Father, You are holy and blameless in Your ways. You are my Lord and my God and I praise You in Your love and in Your sovereign rule. Amen.
God grants to us the gift of eternity with Him. Sola Gratia!
Romans 11:5-6 “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”
God has certainly not rejected His people, even in the midst of their rebellion. He chooses us even when we choose anything and everything else first. And most beautiful of all, as Paul pauses long enough to remind us, is the fact that God sets His children apart all on the basis of His grace. Generally Paul contrasts faith and works, which are two human activities. In these verses, however, he is contrasting grace and works, divine activity and human activity. We are His by grace alone which is to say by His gift alone and then through faith alone. God grants to us the gift of being His. Take comfort in that today, fellow believer, and be humbled. When you stand before God on that final day and ask why you should be allowed to enter, you will not say that you were smarter or wiser or better or even less evil than someone else. You will stand before the Almighty God, Lord of the Universe, with tears streaming down your face in humble gratitude and simply say, “Thank You.” Sola Gratia!
Study/Meditation: If anything we do or do not do is the basis for receiving eternity in heaven, how would that nullify God’s grace? Why is it such good news that we know salvation is fully dependent on God and nothing in us?
*Father, thank You for Your unmerited and boundless grace which You have freely given to me, a sinner. I love You, My Lord. Amen.
By Elizabeth Ryan
My son and I took a road trip to California over the summer and while we were there some friends of ours invited us to join them for dinner at their summer home in Coronado Island. It was late afternoon when we arrived at their beautiful home, our friends greeted us at the door and welcomed us in. As we made our way in I couldn’t help but notice a large cross hanging on the wall of the foyer. It was relatively a simple, contemporary style cross that was dark in color. As I admired it I could see that it had perfectly placed tiny dots of color that covered every inch. It was obvious that this was a beautiful piece of art, meticulously hand painted by an artist. After I studied the cross for a few moments, I proceeded into the next room to enjoy time with our friends.
As evening approached, my friend began to turn lights on throughout the house. I was standing in the kitchen when again the cross, illuminated by the light, caught my attention, this time even more profoundly than the first. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was in mid-sentence when I saw it. I was completely taken back by what the light revealed. (more…)
God has always had His people, and He has His people today.
Romans 11:2b-4 “Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’ But what is God’s reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’”
The first part of verse 2 makes the statement that God has not rejected His foreknown people, namely Israel. The second argument Paul makes for this point is to recall the story of Elijah when the rest of Israel had turned toward other gods and rejected the Lord God as theirs. Elijah was wondering how long God would put up with these people. God’s reply is testimony to His longsuffering, His grace, and His sovereign choice in election. He reminded Elijah that He always has His remnant, His people, and He says, “I have kept for myself” this remnant. This phrase as it is used in 1 Kings 19:18 literally means “I cause to remain.” God is not saying He has kept these people to be alive, but that He has literally caused them to believe or to have faith. In a sermon on these verses, John Piper said, “The link is not historical likelihood of how people act, but divine certitude. God did it then. God is doing it now.” (“For God’s Sake, Let Grace Be Grace,” John Piper, November 16, 2003, desiringgod.org) God has always had His people, and He has His people today. Nothing can change that. This is our blessed assurance.
Study/Meditation: What does it mean today to be a part of God’s “remnant”? What is our role as this remnant?
*Father, You are sovereign and just and merciful. Thank You for reserving for us, Your children, eternal life in heaven with You. Amen.