Scripture reading – Romans 11-13
Our study of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans continues as we turn in our Bibles to Romans 11-13 (as a reminder, the numbering of chapters and verses is an editor’s addition; Paul’s letter would not have had such numbers). As in earlier chapters of Romans, some of the great doctrines of our faith are found in today’s reading assignment.
In Romans 11 alone we find the “election of grace” by which a remnant of Israel was saved (11:5); the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone, without works (11:6); the salvation of the Gentiles (11:11b), to whom Paul was “the apostle” (11:13); the “olive tree” that represented Israel as God’s chosen people, and in whom the “branches” of a “wild olive tree” (Gentile believers) were engrafted (11:17-24). Several other doctrines are found in Romans 11, and could be listed; however, I propose you consider one question that has become a divisive issue in some churches and Bible schools.
Has God Rejected Israel? (Romans 11:1-5)
A theology known as “Covenant Theology,” has taken the 21st century by storm. Although not a new theology, it has been rising in popularity and become a distraction. Some adherents of Covenant Theology (CT) maintain that when Israel as a nation, and the Jews as a people, rejected Jesus Christ, that God rejected them (also referred to as “Replacement Theology”). Such an interpretation supposes that God has turned his favor and promises from Israel, to the Church, and suggests that the Church, not Israel, is the inheritor of God’s covenant promises.
Would the LORD fail to keep His promises? Is the God of Israel not true to His Word? Can God be trusted?
Joshua 23:14b – “…Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.”
Joshua 21:45 – “45 There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.”
1 Kings 8:56b – “…There hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.”
Hebrews 10:23b – “…He is faithful that promised.”
Is God Finished with Israel? (Romans 11:1)
Some suggest that, because Israel rejected God, that God in turn rejected the Jews, and the Church is now the inheritor of God’s covenant promises. Consider Paul’s answer:
Romans 11:1 – “I say then, Hath God cast away [rejected] his people [Israel]? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”
God has not rejected, nor is He finished with Israel! A testimony of God’s sovereignty and providential care of Israel is that, of all the peoples and nations of the ancient world, there is a small remnant of people who identify as Jews, and a small nation known today as Israel!
The Jews did reject Jesus Christ as a nation; however, God has not forgotten His promises, nor His chosen people. Gentiles have come to faith, but Paul writes that when “the fulness (i.e. the full number) of the Gentiles be come in…all Israel shall be saved” (11:25-26).
Every sinner, whether Jew or Gentile, comes to salvation the same way: GRACE (11:6). Neither keeping the Law, or good works can merit God’s favor or forgiveness. In fact, to add any effort or work to God’s offer of grace, means that “grace is no more grace” (11:6). I close with Paul’s summation to believer’s in Ephesus:
Ephesians 2:8–10 – 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Can God be trusted? Absolutely, for He is faithful!
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith