Trusting in the Promises of God

The Glory of the Gospel: Studies in the Book of Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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We CAN trust God because He remains faithful to His covenant with Israel


Open: Adolf Hitler developed the “final solution” to the question of what to do with the Jews. His answer was to exterminate them as a people group and he and the Nazis managed to kill over 6 million of them during WWII

Transition: How does the average Jewish person respond to the idea that he or she is one of the Chosen People? How does the human holocaust of European Jews square with the concept of a just and holy God? These are concepts that go beyond the scope of Romans Chapter 11, but we have to realize others are troubled by these contrasts in covenant faithfulness and human suffering.
The Bible does provide answers to real life questions. We don’t have to pretend these aren’t hard questions, but we also don’t need to think that the Bible is insufficient. We may not understand all of God’s revealed truth, but we CAN trust what He has given us.
READ TEXT: Romans 11:1-9
Chapter 11 is the third and final chapter that deals with the larger question of why the Christian church is becoming more Gentile than Jewish. The previous section dealt with the Priority of Proclaiming the Word and how God has chosen to use this method to bring lost people into the Kingdom. The question then arises as to why the majority of those who hear and receive the Gospel are Gentiles, instead of Jews. At the end of Chapter 10 this problem is set up when the questioner asks if it was possible the Jews didn’t know what was taking place with their Messiah (Rom 10:19). Paul responds with OT Scripture from Isaiah in which the prophet declares that God would be “found of them that sought Me not” (Isa 65:1)
So, with that backdrop the questioner asks, “Has God cast away His people?” (Rom 11:1) Paul’s response is a definite NO, He has not and then he fleshes out his answer. In these first 9 verses we find 2 reasons we also can trust God, along with one observation about the danger of continuing to reject the message of the Gospel.

God CAN be trusted because He supernaturally preserved a believing Remnant within national Israel in their past (Romans 11:2-4)

Explanation: Paul’s first response to the question of whether God had rejected Israel was his own personal testimony. Paul was an ethnic Jew with all of the proper pedigrees. Paul was also a sold-out, fully surrendered follower of Messiah. Paul was basically saying, “God hasn’t rejected the Jews from the Elect because I am a Jew and a Christian.
Paul then reminds his readers of the biblical account of Elijah, one of the most revered Jewish prophets. Elijah is the prophet who stood up for His God on Mt. Carmel when he faced down the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:17-40) Elijah experienced a great victory through the miraculous power of God, but when Jezebel still wanted to kill him, Elijah got discouraged and went to the desert.
During his pouting time of feeling sorry for himself, Elijah received a visit from the LORD. Elijah told God how sad his situation was because he was the sole believer left in the nation. God corrected His prophet and revealed that Elijah was not alone; in fact God had reserved 7,000 believers to Himself.
Argument: The point of the history lesson was that God had a remnant. The questioner was pointing out that the Church was becoming predominately Gentile and this observation led him to the mistaken belief that God had rejected His people. Paul’s response was to point out that Elijah was mistaken as well, and God corrected him. Paul is encouraging his readers to trust God in the present based upon God’s faithfulness in the past.
We can get discouraged as well when we look at the world. We can become mistaken like Elijah and think that we are the only true believers left and that God is done with us. Not so. God has a remnant in this generation, and He will have a Remnant in every generation. Jesus declared that He would build HIS church (Matt 16:18), and He continues to do just that.
Application: God is weaving His tapestry, but we cannot see the design and how the bits and pieces fit together. We are looking at the back of the tapestry and we are seeing the cast off thread and the ugly knots. Even though we can’t see the other side doesn’t mean that it isn’t there or that it isn’t beautiful beyond compare. We CAN trust God with our present and our future because He has been faithful in the past.

God can be trusted to have a Remnant because He provides the Grace to overcome our worthless efforts (Rom 11:5-6)

Explanation: Paul reassures his readers that they can be confident of a present day Remnant because God is ensuring there will be a Remnant through the Election of Grace. Paul is pointing out that national Israel was working for righteousness with God instead of trusting God for righteousness. They were busy doing things for God instead of trusting in what He was providing for them.
Paul points out that grace and works are opposite. If a person works for something, then the compensation he or she receives is not a gift but a wage. It is something that is earned. Grace, by its very nature, cannot be demanded. Grace cannot be earned. Grace is given freely to those who DO NOT merit it.
Paul is telling his audience that they can be confident of the continued existence of the Remnant because God is sovereignly ordaining that there will be one.

God can be trusted because He is consistent in His character (Rom 11:7-9)

Explanation: Paul has shared that God has had a remnant of Israel in the past, and that He ensures that a remnant will continue to exist. Paul then discusses the reason for the minority position of the Jewish people. He begins with a summary statement in v. 7: Israel failed, but the elect received grace. He then states “and the rest were blinded.” To make sure the readers don’t miss out on the agent who brought about the blindness, Paul continues by clearly stating that “God hath given them the spirit of slumber.” Paul assigns this hardening to God.
God’s hardening (or blinding) is his judgment based on previous actions of rejection. John Stott says that hardening is “a judicial process . . . by which God gives people up to their own stubbornness.” (Romans, God’s Good News for the World, Stott, p. 293)
As to the length of this blindness, Douglas Moo states, “the hardening of Israel as a national group . . . is temporary” (The Epistle to the Romans, Moo p. 681). God is not finished with the nation of Israel as we will discover as we continue in Chapter 11.
Our focus today is on the issue of hardening at the personal level. We are Gentiles, not Jews so we may be wondering what this has to do with us. Remember how this section started - Paul was a Messianic Jew, a member of the Remnant elected by Grace even though his nation as a group was already in a state of hardening brought about by God.
As a nation, Israel was repeatedly disobedient to the covenant God had graciously set up with them. They rejected and killed the prophets who God sent to warn them and to restore them. They refused to listen. And when God sent His own Son their promised Messiah, they refused to listen to Him and they crucified Him.
God had promised blessings for covenant obedience and He also promised cursing for covenant disobedience. The Jews were woefully and willfully disobedient and their actions of rebellion and unbelief brought on the judicial hardening of God.
Application: Though we are not Jews, these principles apply to us. I titled this section “God can be trusted because He is consistent in His character.” Those of you who are outside of Christ are still rejecting His offer of grace. If you continue in your willful rejection you will end up in a hardened state. Consider what is at stake. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of your need to repent of your rebellion and seek mercy through the Saviour, then surrender and be saved.
Look again at the heart of God as displayed in the final verse of Romans Chapter 10 - “All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21)
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