Skip to main content

Failing for You: Romans 11

I wish I could say I understood every last nuance of Romans 11 (link). I don’t. Paul is at his most Baptist self here, as he connects rhetorical questions with Old Testament quotes and covers history from Abraham to his present day, including his own heritage. He has a point, but he also has a half-dozen sub-points.

I think we need to note something about those sub-points. I believe the Bible to be completely correct, truth without any mixture of error, God’s Word. However, I do not accept that we can cut out a phrase and claim that, absent its context and authorial intent, it means something odd or obscure. We need to be careful: Paul is not attempting to clear up every question the Romans hold on any theological issue that comes to mind.

He is focused on a single big question here: “God has not rejected His people, has He?” (Romans 11:1)

That is the point under consideration here. Now, we may accurately draw from this passage other ideas, but we need to not put words in Paul’s mouth here. Not simply because it’s unfair to Paul, but because the Holy Spirit did not inspire them, so we ought not add them in.

Now, back to the passage. Paul is discussing why it is that Israel has even been permitted to stumble. He has, over the past few chapters, expressed the depth of his concern for his people, Israel, and their rejection of Jesus.

We get into Romans 11 and we find Paul explaining why Israel was allowed to reject Jesus. Quite frankly, they were allowed to stumble in rejecting Christ because of us Gentiles.

They were, quite literally, failing for us.

If you read through Acts, you will see that the primary times the Gospel message went beyond the original audience of Jews and synagogues was when that audience rejected the message. Even the early examples of Gentile converts to Christianity were connected to Judaism: proselytes, God-fearers, and Samaritans.

As Paul is driven from the synagogues, though, he takes a more direct approach to moving the Gospel beyond those boundaries. The first recorded conversion to Christianity in Europe is of Lydia—a Greek woman who was praying by the river. I cannot, in the space of a blog, tell you all the ways in which that twists traditional religion.

The point Paul is driving at is this: be careful knocking down those who were instruments in God’s work in your life, even when they appear to have rejected Him. Why?

First, because oftentimes there is a history of godliness that are current generation may be ignoring. It would have been easy for the Gentiles to act superior, but the reality was that God had worked through the Jews for millennia. Just because there is an older generation not like you does not make them wrong…or fools.

Do you ever criticize former generations without truly considering what has changed since then?

Second, because there was a wisdom in their rejection. God used the rejection by the Jews to bring salvation to a lost and dying world. How could one criticize the very action that brought life? It would be akin to coming out of heart surgery and complaining about medical dissections of cadavers: you live because of what you mock.

Do you recognize the gains in your life that have come from other people’s losses?

Third, because grace is enough. Paul highlights that even though there was some rejection of Christ, there were also those from among Israel that accepted Him. Grace is enough, for once and for always.

Do you rely on God’s grace so much that you know it must be what holds the world together?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Sermon Recap for October 14

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/east-end-baptist-church/id387911457?mt=2 for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: http://eebcar.libsyn.com/rssThe video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJBGluSoaJgYn6PbIklwKaw?view_as=publicSermons are stockpiled here: http://www.doughibbard.com/search/label/SermonsThanks!