How Grace Matters to Righteousness

2023 Summer in Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:32
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Paul’s Problem Reveals God’s Grace

Paul has been broken-hearted because of the general Jewish rejection of Jesus as Messiah.
The more he prays through and considers the issue, the more clarity he receives from God.
And what he learns is that the answer is not in the legal requirements of the law; the answer is in the Grace of God. That — Grace —, by the way, is the major theme of the theology that Paul teaches in Romans. Quite a lot of the Spirit’s work in Paul, who grew up being taught that the Law of Moses was all that one needed to know, to know about God. But the reality is that the law is powerless to change lives, powerless to aid the quest for righteousness. The Law had become simply a way to find out what you were legally doing against God, not what your were righteously within the direction of God’s Holy Spirit.
In chapter 9, Paul shared his heartbreak over the rejection of Jesus by the Jews. He showed how focusing on the law meant earning the right to be called righteous, but that would never be enough without faith.
In chapter 10, Paul focused on how the door opened for the Gentiles to hear of and believe in the Messiah Jesus. Paul explains why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for Jews and Gentile alike; and the that the path toward righteousness was not by effort but by a heart-change toward God so God can work righteousness in us.
Today we will look at chapter 11, and once again we have a discussion about grace; but today it is about how the Grace of God is the only path to create true Righteousness in us. Not being part of the favored people of God, not being fully compliant with the law, not being connected to the spiritual roots of Israel. It is only, and always, God’s Grace that is how we can be in the center of God’s plan.
Paul talks about election, obedience, gospel, rejection, and God’s unbroken design for his people.
And, although I continue to combine Grace and Righteousness in my sermon title, righteousness doesn’t show up in this chapter by name: Instead, the mercy of grace is the only way to be in God’s favor. And God’s favor is based on the righteousness of Christ we accept because of God’s mercy and grace.
Our own efforts at righteousness are just a bloody mess, as Isaiah graphically says:
Isaiah 64:6 NLT
6 We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.
Without God’s Grace, none of us stand a chance.

God Hasn’t Given Up on the Jews

Isaiah 3:8 ESV
8 For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence.
Romans 11:1–2 ESV
1 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?

God Kept a Remnant

Romans 11:3–4 ESV
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.”

The Remnant is Graced

Romans 11:5–6 ESV
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.

Some Couldn’t See God’s Truth

Romans 11:7–8 ESV
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.”

The Gentile Christians Spur on the Jews

Romans 11:13–15 ESV
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?

Grafted In to the Root of Grace

Romans 11:17–18 ESV
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.

Grace Tempers God’s Wrath

Romans 11:22 ESV
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.
Pay attention to the “provided you continue in his kindness” clause of that verse.

Grace Has Come for All

Romans 11:25 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.
Don’t get a big head about God’s unmerited favor of Grace: It is given to fulfill God’s universal plan while Israel resists.

God’s Grace is In Reserve

Romans 11:28–29 ESV
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.

God Prefers Mercy Over Wrath

Romans 11:30–31 ESV
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.

God’s Mercy is Grace at Work

Romans 11:32 ESV
32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

God Doesn’t Take Advice About Grace

Romans 11:33–35 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?”

Because God is God, Grace is Grace

Romans 11:36 ESV
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
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