This week we will explore
chapter 11 of the letter that
Paul wrote to the Roman congregations.
We remember that,
in chapter 9, Paul asked them if
God’s promises to the people of
Israel had failed since the
majority of the people and their
leaders had not accepted
Jesus as their Messiah. Paul
answers with the emphatic reply that he uses
frequently, “by no means”.
His answer confirmed that the problem had not
been with God Who had faithfully extended His
arms of love to them, but rather with the people
who had rejected Him. In the beginning verses of
our chapter for today we find that Paul provides
four very important pieces of evidence to confirm
his answer. This evidence includes additional
passages found in the Old Testament record, as
well as more current information that the people
would certainly understand.
We have already observed that there was obvious
tension between the Jewish and Gentile Christians
that made up these congregations with the
Jewish members being the minority. It is interesting
to note that each of these groups believed
that they were the ones that should be seen as
having superior standing with God.
From our current perspective we may wonder
how this could be the case as each group felt a
certain dislike for the other. This feeling was
actually confirmed by a bit of arrogance on both
sides toward the other. After all, being special
should come with some sense of self-importance,
right? We could say that their sense of unity was
largely demonstrated by their disunity.
Despite these challenges we find the apostle
pressing a further understanding of the relationship
between God and the Jews, and also with the
Gentiles. He continually focuses on the power of
the Gospel to affect change in the hearts of individuals.
The current brokenness of the Jews’
relationship with God did not have to be permanent.
The atoning sacrifice of Jesus was never
intended to be exclusive, it was sufficient for all
sinners, including the Gentiles.
As we conclude our study this week we will consider
one of Paul’s most profound appeals to everyone
who would ever accept this gift of salvation.
We might even consider it a continual ‘altar call’
that also extends to us today. I pray that we will
not only hear his appeal, but that we will respond
in faith to such a Love, a Love that none of us deserves,
but is God’s gift of Grace to all.
Warmly, Pastor Phil