Sermon: God Reveals the Ending of His Great Mystery Romans 11:25–36

God Reveals the Ending of His Great Mystery

Romans 11:25–36

Truth Taught- God’s sovereignty in the salvation of His people is beyond our comprehension and results in unsearchable glory

 

Introduction

Everyone loves a good mystery. Who done it? We all love those unexpected endings with a twist. Agatha Christie, Author Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allen Poe just to mention a few. Classic mysteries keep us in suspense, keep us wondering and on the edge of our seat. Usually, it’s the character that you don’t think of as the guilty one.

The entire Bible is a mystery that sets a very disturbing plot that includes all of us. All of humanity is involved in the dark fall and hopelessness of sin. God has set in place various stages of His grand mystery.

The Bible is set to bring us into the epic struggle of history. From the very beginning the mystery hook is presented as the human race is plunged into sin and destruction. After everything was created good by God Himself sin has ruined it. As the reader we are left wondering what will happen? Are we doomed to loss and death forever? Like any good detective story, God’s mystery presents events to lure us into the account and to make us the detectives to discover the wonder of this epic mystery. As we read the OT we are left with a few of God’s promises to build on but as far as humanity goes, there’s really no hope in sight.

Then, as if out of nowhere comes Jesus our Deliverer.

The OT has hinted of a Deliverer…

Gen 3:15

Job 19:25

We’ve no doubt read various promises that God has made through His prophets…

Promises of a coming Messiah Isaiah 53

At the end of the OT, this plot was still awaiting the climax and resolution. Who would be the fulfillment of God’s promise of restoration of His people?

Then that first Christmas morning the skies filled with angels as the grand announcement came from this great number that there is given a baby. The angels declared that this baby would save His people from there sin. It was this baby born in Bethlehem that God had sent to be the great Deliverer of His people. You will call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sin.

But, with all good mysteries there would be sadness, suspense, and an epic climax and resolution and all along the way to the salvation of God’s people basically nothing would happen the way you think it will.

Jesus our Deliverer would conquer sin, the grave, and the devil by dying. This is part of the great mystery of God.

The mystery Paul is going to tell us about today, the one he’s going reveal to us is how God is going to save both sinful Jews and sinful Gentiles. Here’s the basics of this mystery…

The Jews rebel against God by rejecting His Messiah, which is exactly within God’s design. Then the Gentiles hear the Gospel and come to Christ by faith. Then someday in the future the Jews will become jealous and they too will come to Christ.

Romans 11:25–36 (ESV)

25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

       “The Deliverer will come from Zion,

he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;

27    “and this will be my covenant with them

when I take away their sins.”

28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34    “For who has known the mind of the Lord,

or who has been his counselor?”

35    “Or who has given a gift to him

that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 

  1. In God’s Mystery All His People Have a Happy Ending

25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

       “The Deliverer will come from Zion,

he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;

27    “and this will be my covenant with them

when I take away their sins.”

Paul still writing specifically to the Gentiles does not want them to become arrogant by thinking they are better than the lost Jews. He does this by showing that there is a specific purpose in the hardening of the Jews. The purpose is that there would be Gentile conversion.

He writes that this hardening of the Jews is temporary and partial. It will remain until the fullness of the Gentiles has been fulfilled. In other words there is a specific number of elect Gentiles and when all of the chosen Gentiles have come to faith, then the hardening will be lifted and the Jews will also come to faith in Christ. The church will one day grow by an amazing work of God, as the door again is open for the Jews to see their Messiah and repent and come to Him in faith.

To better understand this mystery it is vital that we look to the original language…

Partial Hardening- In Part

Fullness of the Gentiles- pleroma (full number)…doesn’t mean ALL Gentiles will be saved but ALL God’s chosen will be saved. The full number of elect Gentiles will be saved.

To help us get a handle on what Paul means in verse 26 when he writes 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved. We go back to verse 12 where the exact same Greek word is used concerning the Jews.

Romans 11:12 (ESV)

12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

The phrase Full Inclusion comes from the same word we find in verse 25 referring to the fullness of the Gentiles. So, what we need to learn from comparing these passages is that there is an exact number of Gentiles chosen by God for salvation and all of them will be saved. There is also an exact number of Jews chosen by God for salvation and all of them will be saved. True Israel will be completely and fully saved. All the elect Gentiles and Jews will be saved. So, Paul keeping with his earlier definition of Israel continues it here. When he says all Israel will be saved he means all of God’s chosen will be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.

Now, in keeping with Paul’s consistent meaning of Israel, true Israel made up of all of God’s people the natural branches and the wild branches, with this in mind ALL of Israel made up of both Jew and Gentile (all of God’s elect) will be saved.

John Calvin wrote, I extend the word Israel to include all the people of God, so that when the Gentiles have come in and the Jews have returned, the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be drawn from both, will thus be completed.[1]

The Apostle goes on to bring to mind those promises made to God’s people. He literally brings multiple OT passages together to bear the truth of what God promises will take place. He does so in an amazingly chronological way. He brings to light three texts of Scripture from the OT…

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,

Here quoted from Isaiah 59:20, Paul makes sure we know who this Deliverer is. In Isaiah 59, the prophet was relaying the promise of God that He would send a Deliverer. This is a reference to Jesus’ 1st coming.

Next, he tells us what the Deliverer would do when He comes. As Paul quotes from Isaiah 27:9, he tells us that God’s people will no longer have sin debt as the Deliverer removes and atones for the sin of all of God’s people…he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;

Thirdly, Paul quotes from Jeremiah 31:33

27    “and this will be my covenant with them

when I take away their sins.”

God promises to make a new covenant with His people…God promises to take away our sins.

Jeremiah 31:31–34 (ESV)

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

  1. In God’s Mystery Things Aren’t Always as They Seem
    28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

In God’s mystery, what we see now is not the end of the story. In context, Paul is telling us that as far as the Gospel goes, the Jews are enemies and hostile towards it. But their current rebellion has a purpose. God has set this up so that we Gentiles can experience the glories of salvation by grace through faith. The Jews have always been hostile toward the Gospel. This is by God’s design.

Acts 13:44–46 (ESV)

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.

So, currently as regards to the Gospel they are God’s enemies. One day, however, the elect Jews who are beloved by God will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

The Jews who are elect are loved by God and this is in keeping with the promises He made to the patriarchs. When God told Abraham He would make him into a great nation and that his offspring would be a numerous as the stars in the sky, God knew what He was saying and that promise will one day come true. Those Jews who are loved by God are, in fact, loved by God because of their forefathers and the promises God had made to them.

Their gifts and calling are permanent. All who are called by God will come to faith. God has called out from among the Jews true Israelites who are elect and called and who will exercise saving faith.

Romans 9:6 (ESV)

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,

He moves forward with his teaching because he doesn’t want us to give up on God’s beloved Jews. He tells us that just as we were once rebellious and disobedient and have found grace so too, someday the Jews will also come to faith in Christ.

30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

The elect Gentiles were at one time disobedient and God has shown us mercy.

Someday, when the last Gentile is converted God’s mercy will turn back to the Jews.

At this time, all the elect both Jew and Gentile will be saved and God will show mercy on all. Note, this is not all people in reference but all the elect.

  1. In God’s Mystery He Receives the Glory for Our Happy Ending

In God’s amazing sovereignty and wisdom He is working to make grace look so attractive to those who don’t have it that they will be jealous of those who do and also come to Christ in repentance. It is the revealing of this mystery that causes the apostle to begin erupting with praise to God.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34    “For who has known the mind of the Lord,

or who has been his counselor?”

35    “Or who has given a gift to him

that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge cannot be exhausted. God’s ways are unfathomable.

I think what amazes Paul here. At least in part, is that this method of extending grace to sinners is so like God and so unlike man that it’s simply astounding. No one but God would have a plan like this. No one but God could take sin and rebellion of the Jews and turn it into salvation for the Gentiles and then take the salvation of the Gentiles and turn that into salvation for the Jews. Only God can do this!

Paul quotes Isaiah when Isaiah is awestruck over God’s amazing grace. Isaiah marvels at God’s future grace when He will forgive their sins. Paul connects the dots from Isaiah 40 to the future redemption of all of God’s people.

God’s epic mystery is being revealed as Gentiles are currently being saved which will lead to the Jews being saved. This beloved is the ending we did not expect.

Application

– Pray for and show honor to Jewish people who do not know Christ. Never forget it’s their vine we are grafted into. We are the wild grapes that are receiving the nourishment from their vine. We are like weeds and they are the flowers. Pray for them and for the day when they too will be grafted back into their vine.

– We must seek to related to them, whenever we meet them, and show them love no matter how hostile they are toward Jesus and the cross.

– Really we must seek the salvation of all people who currently seem hostile to Christ. God’s story is not completely written yet. What we currently see may not be the end because God is still at work whether we see proof of it or not.

 

 

* Resources Used

Teaching Romans by Christopher Ash

Romans by John MacArthur

Romans by John Stott

Romans by Steele and Thomas

 

[1] Calvin’s Commentary on Romans, p255

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