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Text: Romans 1:1-21
Theme: Because of Israel’s transgression in rejecting the gospel Gentiles have received the gospel.
Date: 01/08/2017 File name: Romans_2016_32.wpd
ID Number: 233
We took a hiatus from our journey through the book of Romans to celebrate Advent.
This morning I want us to return to Paul’s epistle to the Christians at Rome.
Since it is been a while let me take a moment to refresh your memories of where we are.
The thrust of Romans 9–11 has been the story of Israel's rejection of Christ, their disobedience against God, and God's inclusion of the Gentiles to receive grace.
This was not God’s “fall-back” position, but something God had repeatedly promised.
The Old Testament Prophets reveal that the day would come when God would include the Gentiles in His Covenant promises.
God, in his sovereign choice, is going to include the Gentiles in His redemptive work.
That does not mean God has finished with Israel, and the apostle reveals at the end of chapter 11, that there will be a time when God brings many in Israel to faith.
I will warn you, that chapter 11 takes us into some of the deep things of God.
In this chapter the apostle brings together the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
He’s going to talk about Israel and the Church and the relationship between the two.
The big question the apostle is attempting to answer — the question asked by Jew and Gentile alike within the church at Rome — “Is God finished with the Jewish people.
Does the church simply pick up where Israel left off?”
How the apostle answers that question, and how we hear him answering that question determines how we answer one of the larger questions of our day — should we evangelize the Jews?
That is a matter of no little controversy in our larger world.
How are Christians to see the Jewish people now.
To get our bearings we need to backup just a little bit into chapter 10.
We need to look at a passage that we ended on just before the advent season arrived.
It is Romans 10:16-21.
We learn from this passage that Israel has heard the gospel.
It’s not like they are unaware of the good news of Jesus Christ.
The gospel of John clearly tells us that Jesus came to his own people to bring them the good news of God’s redemptive work that would be accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection.
The gospels reveal that, for a time, Jesus was hugely popular throughout the country.
Everyone knew who Jesus was.
The gospel of John also clearly tells us that, in the end, the majority of Israel rejected Jesus and his message, and in doing so rejected God’s Anointed One — Messiah.
Peter the Apostle, in his message on the Day of Pentecost is even more blunt.
He tells the Jews assembled, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.
You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.
14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.
We are witnesses of this.” (Acts 3:13–15, NIV84)
Now, in Romans 11, the Apostle uses the nation of Israel to illustrate that God is faithful even when His people are faithless and fickle.
You put that to the bank.
You can count on Him.
No matter what your situation is, no matter what you're going through, God will be faithful to you.
He who has begun a good work in us shall complete it (Philippians 1:6).
That's His promise.
And in it I rest.
So let’s look at the text, and then some application.
“ I ask then: Did God reject his people?
By no means!
I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.”
(Romans 11:1, NIV84)
1. the Apostle now rhetorically asks the question: “Has God cast away His chosen people?”
a. he tells his readers that there is not the slightest possibility that God has done this
1) his response is an emphatic By no means!
2. this is a critical text, because there are those Christian theologians and commentators who believe and teach that God is finished with Israel
a. it’s called Replacement Theology or Fulfillment Theology
1) some contend that the Church is now the recipient of the blessings that were promised to Israel, and forfeited by Israel when they rejected Jesus Christ
Romans 11 deals a deathblow to this mentality, as Paul asks, "Has God cast away His people?
God forbid."
1. God has "not rejected" them even though they have rejected Him
“This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD.”
(Jeremiah 31:37, NIV84)
The implication is that since neither of those things can happen, neither will God reject the descendants of Israel.
“For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.”
(1 Samuel 12:22, NIV84)
2. the good news for Israel is that their failures are not final because God is faithful
a. God had chosen Israel as His covenant people from eternity past and entered into a relationship with them that will never be destroyed
3. Exhibit A of God’s faithfulness to Israel are His repeated promises
1. Paul then points to himself as Exhibit B — "For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin."
a. how does the Apostle know that God is not finished with the Jews?
1) because Paul, himself, is saved, and he’s a Jew!
b. the Apostle’s ethnic and religious pedigree is not in doubt — he is a Jew’s Jew
1) he is an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin
2) in other places we learn that he is a Pharisee, and a Rabbi
c. we also know that before he is Paul, he is Saul — a Jew who passionately hates fellow Jews who have turned to Jesus as God’s Anointed One
1) he considers them apostates of the faith
2) he was an early persecutor of the church, and during a trip to arrest Jewish converts to Christ in the city of Damascus, Saul is confronted with a vision of the risen Lord, and himself, is converted to the Lord Christ
2. God isn't through with the Israelites, and Paul is just one example
a. Paul, along with the other Apostles, as well as the thousands of fellow Jews who were converted on the Day of Pentecost and the thousands who have been converted in the intervening years are proof that God is keeping His covenant promises by saving a remnant of ethic Israel
3. according to Israel’s Prophets, a day is coming when Israel, like Paul, will realize they erred greatly and will turn to Him and be saved (Zechariah 13)
a. Paul sees himself as a shadow of what will happen to the entire nation prophetically
b. so Paul points to himself and says, "Is God through with Israel?
Consider me and my conversion as an illustration of what will happen eventually."
4. God is Faithful to His Covenant Promises With Israel, and God is Faithful to Us
“God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.
Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him?
“I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (Romans 11:2–4, NIV84)
1. the Apostle now turns his attention to Israel’s past for an illustration
a. the second proof that God has not completely rejected Israel is that the Lord has always preserved a remnant of believing Jews for Himself
b. from Pentecost to the present day, Christ’s church has never been without believing Jews
2. Paul writes, "Look not only at my life personally, but check out our own history.
Remember Elijah?"
a. do you remember Elijah?
... the story unfolds in 1 Kings, chapters 18-19
Israel has fallen into idolatry under the influence of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
In a meeting between Elijah and Ahab, the prophet of God challenges the King to assemble all of Israel at Mount Carmel along with the 450 prophets of the pagan god Baal for a contest.
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