Warning Signs | Don't Reject God's Grace, Day 4
Through Christ, both Jews and Gentiles have the privilege of living—and thriving—under the grace of God.
Verse of the Day
'And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.' Hebrews 11:39-40 ESV
Have you ever been picked for a sports team or been invited to an exclusive event? How did being picked or invited make you feel?
Did you know people who weren’t picked or invited? How did you feel about them?
If these people were suddenly added to the team or allowed into the event, would that have added to your enthusiasm or excitement?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16
Gentile is defined as “anyone is not a Jew”.
Gentiles were highly disdained by the Jews. One such peoples were the Samaritans, which is why the parable coined “The Good Samaritan” was so important to explain the grace that the Lord expects us to give to one another. The parable is not just about loving our neighbor, but also the grace we are to give to those neighbors in order to show the true love of the Lord.
Read Romans 11:1-6
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. 2 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? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:1-6
How does Paul’s question in verse 1 bring clarity to the point he is trying to make about the ethnically Jewish people of Israel rejecting the gospel message?
How does he answer this question within the same verse?
Why do you think Elijah’s experience was encouraging to Paul regarding Israel’s state of unbelief (refer to 1 Kings 19, the story of Elijah, if useful)?
How do we see the principle of a “remnant chosen by grace” (verse 5) at work in Elijah’s situation?
Note: “Grace” is by definition “unmerited favor”. Grace would cease to “be grace” if works played a role in election.
According to verse 6, God’s preservation of a faithful people does not depend on human works. Why is it reassuring to know that God’s preservation of His people does not depend on our works?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
How do you reconcile this truth in relation to James 2:26?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26
Read Romans 11:7-10
7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 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.” 9 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.” Romans 11:7-10
How does the idea of the “elect” in verse 7 (and the “remnant chosen by grace” in verse 5) strike you? How does it show that our inclusion among God’s people is entirely the result of grace?
Note: Gentiles were compared to wild olive branches supernaturally (and contrary to usual agricultural practice) grafted into the great olive tree.
See also Romans 11:11-24
What is the Old Testament foundation for God’s hardening and blinding people toward His revelation that Paul gives in verses 7-8 (cf. Deut. 29:4; Isa. 29:10)?
But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. Deuteronomy 29:4
For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. Isaiah 29:10
Who is ultimately in control of both the Gentiles’ reception and the Jews’ rejection of the gospel (vv. 7-10)? What are the implications of this reality for us today?
What does Paul’s quotation in verses 9-10 of David’s prayer from Psalm 69:22-23 say about the seriousness of unbelief and God’s purposes in judgment?
Read Romans 11:11-12
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 11:11-12
What is the purpose of Israel’s stumbling according to verse 11? How does the salvation of the Gentiles work toward Israel’s good in the long run?
Note: Like a runner in a race, the Jewish nation had “stumbled,” but they had not totally fallen. Their stumbling had a purpose—to bring “salvation” to the “Gentiles.” Salvation for the Gentiles will eventually provoke the Jews to envy (Ac 13:45-51).
How does Paul reason from the good news of the lesser reality to the better news of the greater reality in verse 12? What does this passage teach us about God’s trustworthy character and the nature of living by faith rather than by sight (cf. 2 Cor. 5:7)?
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
When has raising a huge or difficult question like Paul does in verse 1 helped you come to a deeper understanding of the gospel and God’s character?
How does knowing from verse 5 that God preserves a remnant of faithful believers encourage us to persevere in ministry and evangelism?
“The Lord will not abandon His people, because of His great name and because He has determined to make you His own people” 1 Samuel 12:22
Even in times of national apostasy, God saves a “remnant.”
The story of Lot
So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived. Genesis 19:29
When faced with the discouraging situation of Israel’s unbelief, Paul looks to the Old Testament to make sense of what he is observing. Why must we never try to interpret what God is doing in the world and in our lives apart from what He has revealed about His purposes and His character in Scripture?
Note: The Jewish nation missed salvation because they sought for it by works. The elect portion was given mercy, but the majority was hardened in unbelief; OT citations are given to show that God has judged His people.
How does Paul’s hopeful attitude toward ethnic Jews in Romans 11 correct our tendency to “write off” or “give up” on certain types of people coming to faith in Christ?
Note: The future reception of Jews by God will result in “world” blessing. If their unbelief brought riches to the Gentiles, their future faith in Jesus as Messiah will enrich the world (cp. Isa 2:2-4).
Father, Your works and wisdom are beyond human understanding, but we are thankful that You brought salvation first to the Jew and also to the Gentile through the gospel of Your Son. May we trust You as You use us for Your purposes in bringing blessing to a cursed world. We pray in the strong name of Jesus, our Messiah, in whom all Your promises find their “Yes” and “Amen.”