Monday, November 4, 2013

Grace For All by Martin Wiles

Romans 11:25-36
A. Have you ever secretly thought God’s grace was unfair?

B. Have you ever wanted to say, “God I think I can do a better job of running your plan than you?”

C. Would it upset you if God saved some people you know? You know, those people you are not overly fond of? The ones who have hurt you. Secretly, if God saved them we might still want him to punish them. It’s just not fair that they get off scot free.

D. In these verses, Paul continues his discussion of God’s plan as it relates to Jews and Gentiles (everyone).

I. God’s Plan For Israel (vv. 25-27)
A. The warning against bragging over our salvation. (v. 25)
1. This warning was directed to the Gentiles who Paul had previously said had been grafted into the tree of Israel.
2. God’s plan had always been to include the Gentiles, but as we know the Jewish people became proud and thought they were the only ones who could be saved.
3. Gentiles only had hope if they became proselytes of Judaism.
4. Now God has made it evident Gentiles are included in his plan, and Paul is carrying that message abroad.
5. He warns the Gentiles who might be tempted to do what little kids often do when the tables are turned: “Nany Nany boo boo.” Translated this means, “Ha ha I fooled you” or “I got it anyway.”
6. God would punish the Gentiles if they became proud and boastful as the Jews had done. They could be set aside as Israel had.
7. This entire book has reminded us our salvation is solely by God’s grace and has nothing to do with works, culture, heritage or ritual.
8. We have also been reminded of our awful state apart from God; how our sinful nature enslaves us. Paul has also dealt with the penalty; the wages of sin is death.
9. Remembering our salvation is all of God, and that all we have done is respond to his offer of grace, should remove all temptations to boast.
10.  The human tendency is strong to look at ourselves and imagine we have some trait that impresses God. Then God said, “You know, he’s a pretty good guy. I think I could use him in my kingdom’s work. I think I’ll save him.”
11.  Paul says don’t feel proud and start bragging. But we like to brag. We may disguise it under the guise of humility, but secretly we want to flaunt our wisdom, skills, donations, possessions and other things we feel will impress others and perhaps even God.

B. Are the Jews totally rejected or without hope?
1. Paul makes some startling statements in the next verses.
2. Many of the Jews have hard hearts; that is, they have rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
3. This, according to Paul, will only last until the full number of Gentiles comes in.
4. Then he makes a startling statement; so all Israel will be saved.
5. This brings us to a question theologians and lay people have disagreed over throughout Christian history.
6. As previously mentioned, one’s millennial view plays a great part in one’s conclusion.
7. You may say, “Well I don’t know what my millennial view is.” That’s okay. It’s not a requirement for salvation.
8. Millennial views fall into three categories: premillennial (historical and dispensational), postmillennial, and amillennial.
9. The millennial is the thousand years referenced in Revelation 20:1-6.
10.  Premillennials believe the thousand years are literal, while the other two millennial views-noting that much of Revelation is symbolic, see the thousand years as figurative.
11.  Millennial views also divide believers over what part, if any, Israel will play in God’s future plan.
12.  The historical pre, post and a versions see little if any part for Israel. God dealt with them in the Old Testament but is now working through the church and will until the end of time.
13.  Dispensational premillennialists, however, see national Israel as having a part in the millennial.
14.  When Christ returns at the pre or beginning of the thousand years and raptures the church (at this point one might also be a pre, mid or posttribulationists), God’s attention will again be focused on Israel and the set up will be similar to the way it was in the Old Testament-to the degree of even rebuilding the Temple and offering sacrifices.
15.  Some would take Paul’s statement to mean that during the thousand year reign of Christ, the Jews will be saved and recognize Jesus as their Savior.
16.  As mentioned, not all believers hold to this view, and there have been and are many devout believers who have held all views.
17.  Therefore, our interpretation here is not grounds for division but simply an admission that the Bible is not completely clear on how end time events will occur or whether all symbols in the Bible should have a literal interpretation.

C. A Suggested Solution
1. The church and Israel are distinct entities, but as Paul has already made clear, there is a spiritual aspect as well.
2. Not all who are circumcised are real Jews nor are all the uncircumcised forever lost without hope. There is a spiritual aspect to what the Jews held dearly as a sign of their covenant relationship with God that goes far beyond the physical practice.
3. The solution probably lies somewhere between the opposite poles that have colored interpretations. We have the tendency to go to extremes.
4. God does not deal with people or classify them based on race, color or creed. We are Christians if we have accepted Christ no matter where we might fall in the above.
5. Also, the church is spiritual Israel, and many of the promises made to physical Israel have been fulfilled in the church according to New Testament writers.
6. This does not mean, however, that there is no place in God’s future plan for national Israel.
7. Whatever that future may be will include them coming to Christ the same way Paul has been espousing throughout this letter; by faith.
8. There is no other means of entrance into God’s grace than by faith.
9. I take Paul’s statement not to mean every single Jew will one day be saved but that there will be at some point a large scale conversion of the Jews by their entrance into the church.
10.  All is not always used in the extreme inclusive sense. It can be a general statement.
11.  Paul appeals to two O. T. scriptures (Isaiah 59:20-21 and Jeremiah 31:31-34) to support his conclusion.
12.  This will take place when the fullness of the Gentiles is complete. Only God knows this time frame.
13.  Additionally, the phrase “and so” can also be translated “in this way” or “this is how” to refer to the means Israel will come-in Christ.
14.  If the thousand years are literal, then this wide scale conversion will probably occur after the rapture of the church-which while this event will encompass mostly Gentiles, it will no doubt include believing Jews as well.
15.  Regardless of how we interpret this, the bottom line is of importance-all who come will do so by faith.

II. God’s Plan For The Gentiles (vv. 28-32)
A. Pay close attention to the example of the Jews.
1. Examples don’t always have to be good for us to learn from them.
2. It is similar to our errors on tests. Some things that have stuck in my memory were answers I missed on a test.
3. Rather than bragging over how God has set aside Israel, it is now the responsibility of Jew and Gentile alike-the Church, to use their gifts and talents to spread God’s love.
4. The Gentiles have benefited from the Jew’s unbelief, but the day will come when many Jews will benefit because they see what God is doing in others who are not Jewish.
5. Disobedience is the lot of all-no matter what race they come from.
6. Everyone needs God’s mercy, and there is no privileged class we can be born into that removes that necessity.

III. A Hymn of Praise For God’s Mercy (vv. 33-36)
A. Paul’s reflection
1. As Paul reflects on what he has just said, he erupts into a hymn of praise for God’s mercy.
2. Israel’s unbelief didn’t stop God’s plan to show his love to the nations nor will God’s current dealing with the Gentiles leave out Jews who wish to enter the Church by faith.
3. All have the opportunity to come by faith.

B. The traits of God that result in the praise.
1. His riches, wisdom and knowledge are great.
2. God owns it all, and we are simply stewards, but we are also joint heirs with Christ. Therefore, we own everything that God owns, which is everything. My name may never be on the deed to any land or home but I own them all.
3. God’s ways are higher than ours and beyond our understanding, but we can know the mind of Christ and realize his plan for us.
4. There is nothing we have to give God-whether in goods or works, that would place him under obligation to save us.
5. Everything exists merely because he allows it to. With one command, he could bring all things to a close, including our lives.

C. How wonderful to know all may come who will.

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