Sermon: God’s Wonderful Grace to Save His People Romans 11:1-10

God’s Wonderful Grace to Save His People

Romans 11:1-10

Truth Taught- All of God’s people are saved by faith, all the rest are hardened.

Romans 11:1–10 (ESV)

11 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. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. 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.” 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.

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, 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;

10    let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,

and bend their backs forever.”

  1. The Most Unlikely People Can Be Transformed By Grace

11 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. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.

Paul has been very compelling as he has defended God’s truthfulness. He has shown us through the Book of Romans that God can be trusted. He has not went back on His promise to Israel…why? Because not all who are Israel are really Israel.

Romans 9:6–8 (ESV)

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

Within the larger group known as the Israelites God has a remnant that are truly His people. So, from the larger group there are those God has foreknown before the foundation of the world.

Romans 8:29 (ESV)

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

God can be trusted to keep His promises because ALL who are of Jewish descent that God has chosen for His own have been saved. There are no exceptions All whom God foreknew have been or will be saved without exception.

This is known as the remnant.

How does Paul prove this conclusion in space and time? In other words, what does he do to prove this is true?

For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Paul is living proof that God had not reject His people. The thrust of Paul’s response is something like, God has not gone back on His promises and I can prove it, just look at me!

When God told Abraham that through his descendants God would bless the nations, He had always intended to bless the nations through the elect descendants of Abraham…those whom He foreknew never the Jews as a race.

Paul is a great example of a Jew who was included in the number whom God chosen to be His. What’s amazing about what the Apostle does here is that he has in mind hope for many of the Jews because if God can save him He can save anyone.

Philippians 3:4–6 (ESV)

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

1 Timothy 1:12–17 (ESV)

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

I think this is the point Paul is making…He not just saying that There’s at least one true Jew; he is saying, If God can bring me, such a hostile, violent, hardened Jew to faith in Christ He can save anyone.

For us, we must see this truth for our ministry to others. There is no one so hardened by sin that they cannot be saved. Paul is the case and point proof of this.

The answer to the question is God did not reject His people. This has always been true. God will never reject His chosen, elect, foreknown people…His true people will never be forsaken by God.

Psalm 94:14 (ESV)

14    For the Lord will not forsake his people;

he will not abandon his heritage;

  1. The Remnant is Larger Than We Might Think

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.” 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.

In 1 Kings 18 Elijah stands in boldness all alone to take on the prophets of Baal. Then in a lapse of fear he runs away from Queen Jezebel thinking he’s still all alone. 1 Kings 19:9–10 (ESV)

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

So, Elijah’s complaint to God is that all of God’s people have forsaken Him and His covenant. For Elijah, thinking he’s all alone, believed God had gone back on His promises. He thought that everything was dependent on him and he had forgotten God was in charge. He had forgotten that if God’s promises come true its because God has the power to make them come to pass.

After God met with His servant Elijah He told him that you think you’re all alone? You think you’re the last one? Oh Elijah do you think so little of Me? What does God say in 1 Kings 19? I have 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.

Of all of Israel God had secured and kept for Himself a remnant in which to fulfill His promises.

Paul, then tells us that in the same way, God has kept for Himself a remnant from among the Israelites in his day. It seems that what Paul is also saying is that just like Elijah thought he was the only one but really there were 7000 others, he’s not the only one either. There is still that remnant from among the Israelites.

What does he tell us about this remnant?

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.

The true Israelites are God’s people not by works of the Law but entirely by Grace. He lets us know that it cannot be both. You cannot be saved by works and grace. If works are in any way involved then, he tells us, it’s no longer by grace.

He also indicates by using the Elijah example that the remnant may, in fact, be much bigger than we think.

We must conclude that for those who have gone their own way there will be judgment coming.

  1. God’s Judgment Includes Blinding People’s Eyes to Christ

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, 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;

10    let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,

and bend their backs forever.”

Why did Israel fail to obtain righteousness? They failed because they tried to achieve it in their own power and hard work. They did not want God to give it to them and would rather die trying than acknowledge God’s righteousness given to them by grace. So, God hardened them. This is exactly like what we saw when it came to Pharaoh in Exodus. He hardened his own heart and then God finished the hardening for His own glory. The same is true here. The Israelites hardened themselves against God’s grace so much that when Jesus was sent they missed Him.

Romans 9:30–33 (ESV)

30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,

       “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

God sent His only Son in order to give them righteousness by faith as a free gift and the Israelites refused to accept the free gift of God. So much so that they murdered God’s glorious Son. This is exactly what God already knew would happen. Those who seek righteousness by works fail, those who seek it by faith as a gift from God ALL obtain it.

The Gospel has been given to God’s people throughout the generations so that none are without excuse.

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.”

Moses was preaching his last sermon to the Israelites. He extended the great covenant to another generation as he reminded them of the amazing works of God in the Exodus.

Deuteronomy 29:2–5 (ESV)

And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet.

These Israelites heard the Gospel and saw the Gospel through the shadows and types and miracles in and through the Exodus. They were an unfaithful bunch. Because they did not love God nor did they worship Him God gave them idolatrous senses. In other words, they saw miracles but did not see them. They heard great truths but did not hear them. This was God’s judgment on this generation that refused His righteousness by faith.

This final sermon was God’s ultimate verdict against His people…guilty!!!

Inserted into Paul quotation of Deuteronomy 29 is…“God gave them a spirit of stupor,

Here, he quotes from Isaiah 29…

Isaiah 29:10–12 (ESV)

10    For the Lord has poured out upon you

a spirit of deep sleep,

       and has closed your eyes (the prophets),

and covered your heads (the seers).

11 And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12 And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.”

Even though they have the prophets and their writing God has kept them in the dark. There comes a time when God stops seeking sinners and when that happens He doesn’t just leave them but the reality Paul gives us is that God hardens them further. So He did with the Israelites in Isaiah’s day.

So we have God hardening those who refused Him in Moses’ day (Law), Isaiah’s day (Prophets), and next He quotes from the wisdom literature of the Bible.

Finally, Paul quotes from David in Psalm 69.

Psalm 69 was King David’s cry to God because of all his enemies. This Psalm is quoted many times in the NT used for Jesus as He prays to God because of all His enemies.

Psalm 69:4 (ESV)

   More in number than the hairs of my head

are those who hate me without cause;

       mighty are those who would destroy me,

those who attack me with lies.

       What I did not steal

must I now restore?

John 15:23–25 (ESV)

23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

The exact text quoted by Paul in our Romans passage comes from…

Psalm 69:22–23 (ESV)

22    Let their own table before them become a snare;

and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.

23    Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see,

and make their loins tremble continually.

As David the lesser King asks God to judge his enemies in Psalm 69 Jesus the greater King also asks God to judge His enemies. Jesus’ prayer back in Psalm 69 is that God would judge them with blindness when it comes to seeing and understanding God’s Word. As Jesus tells us in John 15 if they are His enemies they are also God’s enemies and they hated them both. They have voluntarily rejected God, they hate God. So, when God sent His Son into the world this dynamic was already in place. God curses all who hate Him with spiritual blindness as judgment.

Let’s try to break all this down so we can understand it…

Within the entire people of Israel (The Jews) because of their self-righteousness and hatred of God, God passes judgment upon them hardening their already well establish hatred of Him. In doing so, He is glorified in right and just judgment. This is true among the Israelites and the entire world as well.

Pharaoh hated God and rebelled against Him so, God hardened his heart and as a result God sent the plagues on Egypt where His power was made visible to all. Even though they saw they didn’t really see.

The Jews and the Romans in Jesus’ day hated God. So God hardened them as well and the result was the crucifixion of God’s only Son. God is glorified as their actions in hatred and rebellion actually served God’s eternal plan to provide a Savior for all His people.

So out of the Israelites and out of the world God has chosen a people to apply spiritual vision to. When God gives us a new heart we can see the loveliness of Christ where before we were entirely blind to Him.

As examples in our message today of this truth we have…

Paul, the 7000 in 1 Kings 19, The Remnant in Paul’s day, The remnant in every age.

God will always have a people to worship Him in spirit and truth.

Application

Paul was the most unlikely candidate for salvation. He was the Superman of God-haters even though he thought He was doing all he was doing for God. He was the Superman of Working for righteousness. He was proud and viscious. He was out to exterminate everyone who taught salvation by grace through faith.

Paul was, however, fore loved by God. Paul was one of God’s elect. In the fullness of time God turned the hardest worker for righteousness into the hardest worker in God’s righteousness. The pinnacle of God-hating was turned into the pinnacle of God-loving. He would write…

1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If you see Christ today as Savior do not turn away from Him because most people can’t because they have been hardened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Resources Used

Teaching Romans by Christopher Ash

Romans by John MacArthur

Romans by John Stott

Romans by Steele and Thomas

 

 

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