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.
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.
God’s love and faithfulness are the true constant.
Romans 11:2a “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.”
The question Paul is dealing with is what will become of the nation of Israel since they have rejected God’s Son as Messiah—will God now reject them? Paul reminds them that these are the people whom God chose as His own as is attested in Amos 3:2 when God said, “You only have I known (chosen) of all the families on the earth.” God certainly is not finished with this nation whom He brought out of bondage and set apart as His own. He foreknew His people—He fore-chose them; He fore-loved them. God is not done with Israel, but what message is there in this statement for Gentile believers today, for me and for you? Simply put, the statement Paul makes in Romans 11:2, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew,” also applies to those of us grafted in by the blood of Christ. Paul wrote in Romans 3:9, 21 and 22, “What then? Are the Jews any better off? No, not at all. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” Therefore, we can take supreme comfort in this same phrase because God foreknew us—He fore-chose us; He fore-loved us. How great is our God!
Study/Meditation: How does the fact that God has not rejected Israel support the consistency in His character? What comfort can you take from this knowledge?
*Father, thank You for Your everlasting and constant love and faithfulness. Amen.
Heritage does not make us Christians. Only God does that.
Romans 11:1 “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.”
In this next chapter of Romans, Paul is going to further explore the Jews’ rejection of Christ as Messiah even though they are God’s chosen people of the Old Testament. It may seem from the last verse of Chapter 10 that they are rejected as a people, so Paul goes back to that point to say that they have certainly not been rejected as God’s people. The key words here are “his people,” which makes the real question, “Who are God’s people?” Paul makes the point here that their rejection and exclusion from God’s kingdom has nothing to do with their heritage or their familial ties. Paul, himself, was a Jew, descended from Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin, and he is included in God’s people. The point is valid for us today, too. The fact that some of us may have been brought up in church or surrounded by “Christian lingo” or just simply know what’s expected does not ensure that we actually know God or are in His family. Laws and rules and heritage and family have nothing to do with salvation. Only Christ gives that and only our Heavenly Father may grant our knowledge of Him. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4)
Study/Meditation: How do you see a more modern day rendition of the scenario Paul describes in these chapters of Romans? What makes some people today think they are saved when they may not be?
*Father, thank You for Your grace that saves despite my sin and my heritage. Thank You for making me Yours. Amen.
God’s sovereignty over everything and love for all people is a miraculous and beautiful paradox.
Romans 10:21 “But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’”
Paul again quotes from the prophet Isaiah in this verse, speaking of God’s patient seeking of His people. (Isaiah 65:2) Indeed our God is supremely patient and longsuffering with us, wishing that none of us would perish but that we would all have eternal life. (John 3:16) His character is one of love and we very often easily embrace this revelation about Him. What is extraordinarily sad is when we reject one aspect of God’s character over what He has also revealed to us about His nature. How sad when we fully embrace what Paul wrote in Romans 9:15 of God’s words, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion,” but ignore Paul’s reference to our Lord’s words in Romans 10:21, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” And the reverse is also sad. Instead, as both are proclaimed in God’s Word, we should be so very encouraged by the knowledge that we serve a God who is supremely God in all aspects of that nature, who is sovereign over all things, and who is simultaneously caring and compassionate about His created. For those who hold firmly to God’s sovereignty, let not your hearts be hardened to the plight of others because of this belief, but instead in love and compassion seek to tell them of our great Father. For those who hold firmly to God’s love for all people, let not your view of His character as a loving God overshadow His nature as sovereign Lord. It is truly a miraculous paradox, but we serve a miraculous God.
Study/Meditation: How do you find comfort in the paradox described in today’s devotion?
*Father, You are God in all aspects, both loving and sovereign. Thank You for telling us so much about Your character and nature. Amen.
“I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” Romans 10:20
Romans 10:19-20 “But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, ‘I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.’ Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’”
After asking rhetorically whether or not the problem is that Israel didn’t hear God’s truths preached, now Paul asks if perhaps the problem was that they didn’t understand. In order to refute this argument, Paul quotes from both the Law and the Prophets by referring to Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 32:21 and Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 65:1. In other words, he is saying that it is highly unlikely that they haven’t understood given that they have been taught in all parts of the Old Testament the proclamation of the gospel. In order to underscore this point, Paul quotes the prophesy about the Gentiles, who didn’t have the advantage of knowing all parts of the Old Testament, who accepted the Messiah and did so based on faith, not works. Those who do not accept our Lord as their lord do not refuse to do so because they do not understand. God has made His path to salvation clearly known and easy to comprehend. However, as Paul very clearly reiterates from Isaiah, God says, “I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” Just as Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Study/Meditation: How has God made Himself and His plan for salvation clearly known? What is your part in spreading His Word and His plan?
*Father, thank You for the gift of Your grace which gave me the ability to place my faith in Jesus as my Savior. Thank You for choosing me, even when I was not looking for You. Amen.