Sermon: Called to be Subject to Governing Authorities Romans 13:1-7

Called to be Subject to Governing Authorities

Romans 13:1-7

Truth Taught- Christians are called to submit to the government because God has installed it for order and safety

Introduction

Which would you most desire, a bad government or no government?

These seven verses contain the clearest and most specific New Testament teaching on the Christian’s responsibility to civil authority. Every Christian, no matter what form of government he lives under, is under the command from the Lord to maintain proper and useful submission to that government for the sake of leading a peaceful life and having an effective witness. This recurring theme of submission to society’s controlling power is nowhere more forcefully dealt with than here.[1]

To disobey the governing authorities is sin. We will discover that there are exceptions, but, in general, we, as Christians, must obey the governing authorities over us.

Prayer

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

  1. Christians Are Commanded to Submit to the Government (13:1-2)

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

This is a good time to teach how we can read the Bible thinking through from command to reason to consequence. This is something that has been lost in modern education. Teaching logic is so important but few ever learn it. Logic is the science of how to think and reason properly. So, let’s take a minute to look at the structure of verses 1 and 2.

What is Paul’s command?

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.

He’s making an overarching command to all Christians first in Rome and then to us to be under and live under governing authorities in a peaceful manner. This command also falls within the context of what we’ve just learned in Chapter 12. We’ve learned to show genuine love to others and that as far as it depends on us, live at peace with all people. Sometimes, however, we cannot live at peace with someone or with a government. What he’s talking about is that in a general sense we are to live at peace with our government.

The reason for the command or we might say, why am I commanded to live in subjection to the government?

For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. So, why are we required to be under the authority of our government? Because God has set it in place. The idea of submission to a higher authority is when that higher authority is bringing order and not chaos.

When God created the universe, it was first in chaos. The earth, for example, was formless and void. It was in chaos. God spoke and brought order to His creation, therefore, we submit to His authority because He has brought order. From our text today, we are commanded to submit to civil authorities because God has set them in place to bring order from chaos.

As Americans, we voted the other day, and all who were elected were ordained by God to be over us with authority. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with their politics we are commanded to submit to them as our leaders, ordained by God to bring order from chaos.

There are television shows that portray a world without a working government and often the writers and actors capture the chaos. The bottom line is even a bad government is better than no government.   This does not mean that because God set the government in place that all who participate are going to be Christians. Most often America gets the leaders we deserve. Regardless, God has set it in place to bring about order.

When the people who are in authority over you are not bringing order but chaos, then the command to submit to them ends. We must at that point submit to God and not to them.

 

Acts 5:27–29 (ESV)

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

When husbands bring order, wives are commanded to submit. When church leaders bring order, church members are commanded to submit. When parents bring order, children are commanded to submit. When masters bring order, slaves are commanded to submit . . . when the authority brings chaos, then we must obey God and not those other authorities.

What are the consequences of rebelling against our government?

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. When our government is creating an orderly society, we are commanded to obey the authorities, because when we obey them, we are obeying God and the ones He has placed in the governing roles over us.

Let’s think about a few examples . . . .

When our government has laws in place for our safety, we obey those laws. When our government sets in place laws concerning the welfare of others, we obey those laws. When our government sets in place laws that require us to pay taxes, we submit to those laws. However, when our government sets in place laws that say murdering unborn babies is okay, then we obey God and not man. We seek proper channels and fight those laws. When a government’s laws are contrary to God’s laws then they are working outside of God’s authority, and, at that point, we obey our greater authority who is God alone. Because they are now working to create chaos and not order.

An example from Scripture of the point Paul makes here is found in:

John 19:11 (ESV)

11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

So, even the pagan occultist governor Pontius Pilate had his authority given to him by God.

So, if I rebel against the government when it’s creating order, then I should expect to be punished by God since it is His institution.

  1. Christians Who Submit to the Government Can Live Free From the Fear of Punishment (13:3-4)

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

With Paul’s original command in mind, namely, 13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.

We move on to his second purpose; his second reason why we should be subject to governing authorities. The first was because God set it up, and the second reason we find here . . . we should want to avoid civil punishment.

God has set in place the governing authorities to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. The concept is fairly straightforward isn’t it? Do what you’re supposed to do and don’t do what you’re not supposed to do, and you won’t be punished.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Paul really goes at this principle in two different directions. He calls the authority figure whether it’s the Emperor, Governor, King, or President, God’s servant. He tells us that if we obey this person, then he is God’s servant for our good. If you obey civil authorities, then this servant of God is for your protection because he is going to punish all who disobey which means safety and peace for you. However, if you disobey, again he is called, God’s servant, only now he is God’s servant for vengeance and wrath, as Paul writes, he doesn’t bear the sword for nothing.

This should cause us to think back to:

Romans 12:19 (ESV)

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Christians are not to take the law into their own hands, but to leave room for the wrath of God so now we see two ways God carries out His wrath: First, He will make all things right in the last day or the Day of Judgment. Second, He will show judgment and wrath through civil authorities that He has set up. Because both of these reasons are true, and we can trust God in this, we must not take matters into our own hands but trust that God will work. In other words, God will make all things right either in the end or in the due process of the law.

  1. Summary (13:5)

Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Here Paul gives us a one sentence review or summary. He writes that we should be in subjection to the authorities because in doing so we will avoid God’s wrath/punishment from civil authorities and for the sake of conscience because we know it’s the right thing to do because God has set it in place.

  1. Application (13:6-7)

For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

How are we to relate to those God has placed in civil authority over us? Because we know God has set them in place, and keeping law and order is a full-time job, then we should pay our taxes. Their responsibilities keep them very busy, and they should be paid a decent wage, and that’s where taxes come in.

In the ancient world, tax collectors were considered the worst of sinners when actually, one that does it right is working for God. He is the one that collects the money from citizens who are benefiting from the work the government authorities do to keep them safe etc.

So, beloved, we are to pay the taxes we owe, we are to pay the revenue we owe (this includes other things like licenses, permits, etc.), respect and honor we owe these who stand over us in society.

We realize, don’t we, that we live in a fallen world and those placed in authority over us are often not Christian. They use their power for personal gain. They lie, cheat, and steal and get away with it. We have seen this over and over again. So, we all realize that in a sinful fallen world there are many imperfections in God’s system of government. Yet a fallen government is far better than no government at all. We are very quick to point our fingers at corruption within civil servants and those in power, but we must also be careful because we are also corrupt.

We fail to follow and submit ourselves to the governing authorities like we should. We are fallen and sinful as well. So, before we begin complaining about the corruption we see, we must ask ourselves: Am I placing myself in subjection to them because God set this system in place, or am I just as rebellious as they are?

Here’s a quick test . . .

When you see a policeman are you pleased and thankful to see him as a law-abiding citizen or frightened and stressed to see him as a law-breaking citizen?

The main thrust of these verses is to humble us and to show us what God desires from His people. God desires that we obey those He has placed over us so we become better citizens in our community and better citizens in His kingdom.

When we are called to obey those in civil authority, and we find them to be less than honorable, use that negative experience to remind yourself that we have a real King.

One day, when Christ returns and sets up His kingdom on earth, we will have a perfect government in which to submit. Until then, practice with a fallen government so that when Christ returns, we will be ready to fully submit to His authority as King over us.

 

 

 

*Resources Used:

Romans by Christopher Ash

Romans by Douglas Moo

Romans by John Stott

Romans by John MacArthur

Outline of Romans by Steel and Thomas

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans. Chicago: Moody Press.

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Sermon: The Christian’s Call to Love Good and Hate Evil Romans 12:9-21

The Christian’s Call to Love Good and Hate Evil

Romans 12:9-21

Truth Taught- We are called to express genuine love to others within the body of Christ

Introduction

Last time we saw together just what a mind that has been renewed by the new life God has given to us through Jesus Christ looks like or more specifically, thinks like. We saw what it thinks about and how our renewed minds change the way we live.

Today, we are going to see how the renewed mind loves the things God loves and hates the things God hates. We are also going to see that the renewed mind loves the good so much that it gives us a completely new strategy when it comes to dealing with evil and those who would sin against us.

The context remains life in the local church. So, our first call is to love our brothers and sisters in our local fellowship. Then, as an overflow of this love for the good and hatred of evil we are also to show to the lost people around us.

Prayer

Romans 12:9–21 (ESV)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  1. Genuine Love Hates Evil and Holds Fast to What is Good

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Paul begins verse 9 with, Let love be genuine. The word translated genuine is anypokritos which means without hypocrisy or undisguised. What would love look like that was hypocritical? I think it would be very showy and at the forefront. It would be driven by pride and the love of self. Fake love is a means to an end. The end is not the other person’s good, the end is self-promotion. Genuine love is a love without hypocrisy. This genuine love is the motivation for Christian service. We are called to love other believers in the local church setting with a love that is free from selfish agendas. We love and serve others here with an attitude of wanting their best and not to see what we can get from them.

What does genuine love do within the local fellowship of believers?

It’s brotherly affection- It’s caring for, meeting the needs of, and truly praying for other members here. It’s going out of your way to show them kindness. We can show brotherly love because in Christ we truly are brothers and sisters.

Romans 8:15–17 (ESV)

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Genuine love does something else…really two things: Genuine love abhors evil and clings tightly to what is good. Let’s break this down a little.

Biblically, there is Good and Evil in this world. These evils are evil across the board. Let me say it like this…Evil is evil for everyone at all times throughout history. Good things are good for all people at all times throughout history. There is no, well this might be evil in your book but not in mine.

The modern church has been taken hostage by this type of thinking. We have been led down a path of lies.

Same sex marriage, Homosexuality, Transgender, are not good things, they are evil for everyone, at all times, throughout history. In a couple of days we have the opportunity to vote. I pray Christians turn out to vote and that they vote Christian. They vote for pro-life candidates and not for pro-choice candidates; I pray we vote for pro-traditional marriage candidates and not those who are promoters of same sex marriages; I pray we vote for candidates who say men are men and girls are girls and it doesn’t matter what you say or think you’re either one or the other and it’s very easy to tell.

There is evil and there is good and our children need to know that. Teach that simple truth to your kids. Let them see that it matters to you. Let them see you abhorring evil and holding fast to what is good. Let them see you forfeiting money or doing hard things to do what’s right. Kids there is right and wrong, Jesus wants you to always do what is right and good and honorable.

To help us with the meaning of abhor because we usually don’t use it that much…what other English word is from the same word family as abhor? Horror. We are to be horrified and deeply afraid of evil. When we are afraid of evil things we will flee from them. This is how we are to react to the evil things of this world. Run away, flee from evil.

2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

While we are fleeing from all forms of sin and temptation be holding on to what is good and honorable. Hold fast is the Greek word, kollomenoi, which means to cling to, be cemented to, be one with. It’s a very strong word. So, we are to make what is good a part of us. Be in horror of sin and make good part of us.

Something that seems odd at first but isn’t odd when we think through it is that genuine love hates evil. True love hates evil and evil things. We must seek to have the genuine love God has and His love hates certain things.

What remains in this first section are ways we are to do this…

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Do you see how these acts of love are genuine and without any self-serving motivation? Each act of love is seeking not our own good but the good of others and not the minimum acceptable amount but with zeal.

Things like zeal, brotherly affection, fervency, rejoicing, and being constant, are things that we cannot do on our own in hypocrisy. You can do some of these things with hypocrisy but you cant do them the way we are called to do them in hypocrisy. I can do good things for my brother in Christ but unless I have genuine love for him, I cannot do them with brotherly affection. These are things that can only happen when we are born again and the Holy Spirit is at work in us.

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Sermon: Worshipping God by Serving His Church Romans 12:1-8

Worshipping God by Serving His Church

Romans 12:1-8


Truth Taught- Believers are to worship God through renewed thinking, which leads to simple acts of humble service within the local church

 

Introduction

Last time we looked together at what the outflow of proper theology looks like. In other words, to believe correct things about God, ourselves, and His church will cause us to live differently. If theology stops with head knowledge there is something deficient somewhere. It must move from renewing our mind to renewing and changing our actions.

We learned that we are called to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, which is proper worship. Proper worship begins with renewed minds are not conformed to the world’s way of thinking. Renewed minds can think, discern and believe properly. Renewed minds can know God’s will and discern right from wrong.   As we believe correct things concerning God this will cause our minds to be renewed and slowly by slowly we will begin to have the mind of Christ.

Connected to these things are verses 3ff.

Lord willing we’ll answer the question, How does a renewed mind think? Or what does a renewed mind think about? Then, when we possess renewed minds where do they take us in service to others?

Prayer

Father, this is Your holy, inspired and inerrant Word, You have sent it to us today with a wonderful purpose in mind. I pray that it would not return to You void but would change us into the image of You Son, Jesus Christ. I pray we would all know You, serve You, and bring You glory through obedience to what we learn today.

Romans 12:1–8 (ESV)

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

  1. The Renewed Mind Thinks Correctly About Oneself (12:3)

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

When translated into English we loose a little of the repetitive nature and the point Paul makes here…Believers are not to think of themselves more highly than he ought to think but instead think with sober thinking. Four times think is used in this verse.

What has changed our thinking of ourselves is the grace God has given to us as believers. God has saved us and now He is working to change us. The way this change is made evident is that we now start to think appropriately about ourselves and our brothers and sisters in the church.

We used to think very highly of ourselves. We were our greatest and longest thought. We had a prideful preoccupation with ourselves. We were selfish and lived for ourselves and for our pleasure and fame. We wanted to be noticed and praised. Then the flip side is that we never thought that our sin was nearly as bad as others. We thought we were in right standing with God because after all we’re talking about me, right?

Then God takes self-centered sinners and gives them new life. We must now begin to think and behave differently than before.

A renewed mind will begin to consider others in a new way. Before you can serve someone in the church you have to think about him or her. That means for however long you’ve stopped thinking about yourself and began considering others. So, the new mind that was formerly shaped by selfishness and pride is now being transformed by considering others and humility.

Theologians are unsure exactly what Paul means by his phrase, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

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Sermon: Worshipping God with Body and Mind Romans 12:1-2

Worshipping God with Body and Mind

Romans 12:1-2

Truth Taught- True worship requires giving yourself to God for the good of the church

Introduction

Chapter 12 begins the last major section in the Book of Romans. What Paul has in mind now is to take the theology taught so far and apply it to the members of the Church of Rome and to apply it to us. Theology must change us individually and the ultimate end is to change us corporately. Romans and the rest of the New Testament is ultimately for the maturity of God’s people in the setting of the church. So, to think one can grow as a Christian outside the church is a major misunderstanding.

Romans 12 also begins the section where God wants a return on His investment. I say that purposely because this section is based on all God has given us in Christ and now it’s time for us to give back to God.

It seems to me that there is a problem with our modern Christianity. We think all we ever do is take from God. It is true He does everything concerning our salvation. Once we have been brought from death to life by divine power we then give to God. What kinds of things (or in the context of today’s passage or sacrifices) does He desire from us? Obedience, commitment, love, and the one Paul addresses here, worship by giving of ourselves to Him. True commitment to God costs us something in this life.

2 Samuel 24:24 (ESV)

24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

True worship is costly. It cost Jesus His life and now God asks for our lives. Living sacrifices is how Paul words it in today’s text.

God is seeking true worshippers and has done everything to initiate the process to achieve that goal.

John 4:23–24 (ESV)

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Paul begins Chapter 12 with an admonition. This is more than a request but less than a command. It’s presented as the appropriate response to all God has given us. So far we’ve seen many great blessings God has given to His people.

Romans 5:1–2 (ESV)

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

It is based on the many wonderful life-giving blessings that Paul writes…

12 I appeal to you therefore…

The connecting, therefore takes us back to the previous doxology presented in Chapter 11…

Romans 11:33–36 (ESV)

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.

Based on all these things what should our response be? For Paul it was an outburst of praise and doxology followed up with a life dedicated to God because he was justified. What does a life look like that has been justified by grace through faith?

God makes His plea through His apostle to us, the church.

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Disciple Hour: The Glory Of Christ

Disciple Hour: The Glory Of Christ
The Third Difference between Beholding the Glory of Christ by Faith and By Sight

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…

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Sermon:The Olive Tree and God’s Amazing Grace Romans 11:11-24

The Olive Tree and God’s Amazing Grace

Romans 11:11-24

Truth Taught- God will cause Jew and Gentile alike to one day bear fruit by grace through faith in Jesus Christ

Introduction

As I scroll through and thumb through various commentaries on the Book of Romans I discovered something very peculiar. Some of them were going strong until they came to Chapter 8. It seems that at chapter 8 some commentators and some preachers skipped from chapter 7 to chapter 12 leaving out 8-11. Now I’m convinced the reasons are basically two. These are the chapters that deal very strongly with election and God’s foreknowledge and these commentators rather than dealing with those doctrines would rather pretend they weren’t there than to have to teach them because if they taught them their people could easily see what the Bible says and their theology would be shaken. So, they skip them.

The next reason is that 8-11 involves some very difficult material. Rather than spend time dissecting and studying the passages it’s easier to just skip them and get back to the easier material than to delve into the hard things of God’s Word. And it is this second reason we’ll be skipping over the rest of Chapter 11…Just kidding, sort of.

What we see in this passage is the amazing wisdom and grace of God. He has been extremely long suffering with the Jews and He could have simply cut them off and left it there. Instead, He fills the olive tree with Gentile branches, which is wonderful news for us. God has taken those who were strangers and made us family.

Ephesians 2:11–20 (ESV)

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,

While we should be excited to be God’s children we must not get puffed up and forget what took place to allow us to be grafted into the olive tree, namely, God broke off the natural branches, His covenant people were torn away. So we praise God in humility and we pray to God for the Jewish people that He would move and cause them to believe the gospel of their Messiah.

So, lets launch out to the deep and see what God has for us today…

To help us understand this passage before us we need to understand a little about pruning and grafting trees.

All over Palestine there are olive groves or orchards. The olive tree is the accepted symbol of Israel. It’s on most of their coins and has appeared as an emblem for Israel in other places. It was a symbol for Israel even in Paul’s day.

In our text today the Apostle uses this image of the olive tree to explain the relationship between Jew and Gentile within the church and the relationship between Christian Gentile and the unbelieving Jew.

It’s important for us to understand this dynamic and symbolism before we look at the passage…

Cultivated Olive Tree- People of God

Roots- The Patriarchs and Prophets OT

Broken Off Branches- Unbelieving Jews

Wild Olive Shoots/Grafted in Branches- Believing Gentiles

We will see the issue of the unbelieving Jews broken off and in contrast the believing Gentiles grafted in.

Another important part of this passage is some ancient practices of grafting in branches into an olive tree. Some theologians have made fun of Paul, calling him a city boy because, according to them, he didn’t understand how grafting works. They say that normal horticulture procedure calls for cultivated branches to be grafted into a wild tree not the way Paul’s allegory is set up with its wild branches grafted into a cultivated tree. However, there was another ancient practice that, I believe, Paul is referring to and which sheds light on what Paul is telling us here. There was the ancient practice of causing a cultivated tree that wasn’t bearing fruit to bear fruit by grafting in a wild olive branch. What this did was cause the olive tree to begin to bear fruit when before it was fruitless.

So, the purpose is to graft wild branches into the tree which causes the entire tree to bear fruit which was previously not fruit bearing.

This purpose would fit very nicely with things Paul tells us.

Romans 11:11–12 (ESV)

11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 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!

Romans 11:14 (ESV)

14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

Romans 11:26 (ESV)

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”;

So, the grafting in of Gentiles will invigorate the Jews and the tree will one day bear the fruit it was intended to bear all along. In the mean time the wild branches grafted in will enjoy the blessings from the roots of the tree. The wild branches will receive spiritual nourishment through the root system of Judaism, which is the Patriarchs and the Prophets.

Paul addresses two issues to Gentiles: First is that we could become proud while God works out His sovereign plan and Second, realize that this hardening is just for a time, one day the Jews will discover who their Messiah truly is.

Romans 11:11–24 (ESV)

11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 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!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

  1. Christians Must Not Be Arrogant Toward the Jews (17-22)

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

Here Paul is showing us that the firstfruit as stated in

16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If the original lump of dough is holy as the yeast permeates the other lump be

The charge Paul gives us, as Gentile believers, to not become arrogant and think we are better than those Jews who were taken away or broken off from the root.

We may become arrogant as we consider things like…I cant believe the Jews crucified Jesus. I can’t believe that after all their Scriptures, when Jesus came they still missed Him. I can’t believe that they have no faith and are still trying to work their way to God. I can’t believe they think they’re children of Abraham when we Gentiles who believe are the real Israel. So how does Paul warn us to not become arrogant? He does this by three warnings…

  1. Remember, your life comes from Jewish roots

17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,

Just like grafted in branches receive the sap and nourishment from the root system in the olive tree, now Gentiles will receive nourishment from the root of Israel, which is the Patriarchs and the Prophets. Beloved we are currently discovering the riches of Christ through the Psalms. King David in this case is the root that we receive nourishment from. The entire Old Testament is a wealth of nourishment for the Gentile believer. We can read about the Patriarchs and see what they did and learn from them. We can be warned through the Prophets of the very things we too may be guilty of. We can learn what God expects from His people. We can be those who delight in God’s Law and are nourished for eternal life through the pages of the OT.

2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV)

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

1 Corinthians 10:1–12 (ESV)

10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

God’s Word contains words of life for the Gentile believer. Much like being connected to the roots give nourishment to the branches so too being connected to God’s Word gives life to the believer. Even though people of Jewish descent wrote the entire OT, it is nourishment for the Gentile believer.

  1. Remember, we are grafted in by faith

19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.

We cannot be arrogant because our being grafted in and our stability remain by faith alone. The Jewish branches were broken off because of unbelief and Gentile branches grafted in by belief alone. Knowing this should cause us to remain humble and meek when considering that this is God’s work alone and not my works at all. We are saved by grace through faith not of works. When we consider that it is grace that grafted us and grace that keeps us all boasting must be put aside.

  1. Remember, we must serve God with fear and stand fast by faith

21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

We cannot forget what happened to the Jews who were hardened and cut off by God. If we are not careful the same could happen to us. The Jew thought he was in because of his ancestry. We must be careful to be superficial with our status in Christ. We are His provided we stand fast till the end.

Matthew 24:13 (ESV)

13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Hebrews 3:6 (ESV)

but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

In humility we stand fast.

  1. Jews Must Realize that God is Offering Salvation to Them

23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

So far we’ve seen that the exclusion of the Jews meant inclusion of the Gentiles. God is not finished with His covenant OT people. Here I think we can sense Paul’s spirits being uplifted as he considers the future hope Israel has.

At first he was encouraged that while his kinsmen were not being saved, at least God was using him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles and they were being saved. Still there’s this underlying disappointment that his kinsmen were dying lost and without Christ. He even said

Romans 9:3 (ESV)

For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

As he considers the grace of God, Paul begins to realize something amazing. God’s grace will one day be poured out on the Jews and they will respond to the Gospel as well. When that day comes everything changes.

Notice his reasoning…

If the Jews believe they will be grafted in. God has the ability to regraft cultivated branches back into the cultivated olive tree. His language is that it will be much easier to graft natural branches back into their own tree than it was to graft wild branches into a cultivated tree.

Paul’s language is that of anticipation. Beloved Israel will be included again into God’s covenant. They will return to God through their Messiah, Jesus Christ. Also notice God is not offering the Jews plan B as some of our dispensational friends would try to teach us. No, they will come in the exact same way Gentiles do by grace through faith.

if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in.

What is the condition of their being grafted in? It’s not works is it? The condition is faith just like us.

All of this is designed by God to demonstrate, first, that he can and will save all Israel without being bound to save anyone in Israel who demands to be saved because he is part of Israel; and to demonstrate, secondly, that God can and will save Gentiles who are not in Israel if they trust Christ and do not boast over the broken off branches.

In other words, all of redemptive history is designed from beginning to end to put a stop to human boasting in Jewishness or over Jewishness, or in Gentile ethnicity or over Gentile ethnicity. Free and sovereign grace stops boasting, and leads to humble, brokenhearted gratitude and worship: “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). [1]

Application

Here’s our command by God…be humble!

Ephesians 4:2 (ESV)

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Be humble pray for the Jews that God would also grant them faith in Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

* Resources Used

Teaching Romans by Christopher Ash

John Piper Sermon on this text

Romans by John MacArthur

Romans by John Stott

Romans by Steele and Thomas

[1] John Piper