Romans 11:1–10 (CSB)
1 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with 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 take my life!
4 But what was God’s answer to him? I have left seven thousand for myself who have not bowed down to Baal.
5 In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace.
6 Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.
7 What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened,
8 as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear, to this day.
9 And David says, Let their table become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution to them.
10 Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and their backs be bent continually.
Most of the time, God is excellent at proclaiming absolute truth. We already know that in our modern culture, the world fights hard at absolute truth and proclamation as though it is true. "How can you be so sure?", they will ask because when the world is so good at suppressing the truth, the last thing they want is the truth to be truth.
And American Christians do not do a great job of handling the truth. They will take the truth of God and add on their own opinions--like a bill being sent through House of Representatives only to have some freshly elected rep trying to tack on their niche agenda. So to that, I understand a little of the culture's pushback on preaching.
Here, in this passage, Paul is not only making a declarative statement but he will use Scripture to explain Scripture. Using the Bible to exposit the Bible. It is the tenet of the faith: sola Scriptura.
But this is where I am changing my mind and I hope you are too. I hope you are seeing that, while Paul is using Israel as an example, these chapters in Romans are not exclusively about Israel. All Scripture is God inspired and profitable for teaching on the life of the Christian--Jews and Gentiles alike.
In using Israel as an example, we are seeing just how, it is not God that rejects unbelievers but it is God who preserves and keeps his people. And if we are to believe the Bible, God has kept his people since before the foundation of the world.
1-2a I ask, then, has God rejected his people? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Ephesians 1:3–6 (CSB) Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
What does this mean? It means exactly what it means. The original Ancient Greek for this text doesn't have some deep, hidden meaning to make predestination mean something not predestination. Election does not mean, "that means we elect God."
The 1689, Chapter 1 declares this rightly about Scripture:
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
One of the biggest fights of the Protestants against the Catholic Church during the Reformation was Catholic Church insisted on this:
"The Bible is too hard for us to understand. You need the Church to explain what it really means."
And the Reformers all through the Puritans down to the Evangelicals loudly proclaim and teach that (1689.1.1):
The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable
... and it is crystal clear in doing so. It is the perspicuity of Scripture. There is no hidden meaning in the Bible when it comes to all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience to God.
The world is trying to get Christians to think that homosexuality is not a sin. But the Bible is crystal clear that homosexuality is a sin against God. All sexual immorality is treason against God. You want to be saved from your sins? You must be born again. And only God can do that. If he is the only one who can do that, then listen to the words of Jesus:
Luke 11:13 (CSB) If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? ”
Ask God for God, you will get God. Guaranteed.
Predestination means God has chosen you to be his people. He chose us in him before the foundation of the world.
Go back to verse 2:
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Romans 8:29 (CSB) For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Many have tried to explain away this foreknowledge. Let me reduce it down to it's simplest terms: the Scriptures say that God foreknew us--it never says God foresaw us.
God did not see us turning to his Son and therefore he then chose us before the foundation of the world. The Scriptures rightly declare:
Romans 5:8 (CSB) But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God knew we were sinners. God saw that we were not righteous. God saw that every inclination and thought were evil and wicked against the Holy One of God. God knew that. That is why he sent his Son to live and die for us so that we would be saved from our sins.
For those God predestined and foreknew, he has not rejected them. But, in fact, the opposite: he called them, he justified them and he glorified them. (Romans 8:30) And Paul had it right when he wrote glorified in the past tense. Why? God has already perfectly saved his people from their sins? How do we know that? Christ died on the cross. That is an historical fact that happened over two thousand years ago.
2b-4 Or don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he pleads with God against Israel? Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and they are trying to take my life! But what was God’s answer to him? I have left seven thousand for myself who have not bowed down to Baal.
Revelation 14:9-12 (CSB) And another, a third angel, followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is poured full strength into the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or anyone who receives the mark of its name. This calls for endurance from the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”
I am not going to even engage anybody on conspiracy theories on mark of the beast, and chips, and Apache helicopters. Miss me with that mess. I don't have that type of time.
I will say this about the mark of the beast. I have seen a generation of Christians who have become so legalistic and hyper-anxious about making sure they do the right thing and don't do the right thing. That they will miss the blessings of God or worst still, that they can lose their salvation because they have done the wrong thing.
Let me tell you something about the clear, wonderful grace of the Almighty God.
5-6 In the same way, then, there is also at the present time a remnant chosen by grace. Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.
Let me give you assurance of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Titus 3:3–5 (CSB) For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
In other words, we all have bend the knee to demons, Satan, worldly powers, our own idols. We too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, and led astray. All of us were not righteous. All of us were not good. No, not one of us.
But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us—not by us perfectly checking off our own to-do list, being meticulous in doing every letter of the law but still utterly and always failing to obey him perfectly. Our repentance, which is a gift from God, falls short of the glory of God.
But he didn't save us because we did it right, believed him in right way, had the sincerest heart, or had the right emotions at the right pitch of a worship song--no, none of that:
But according to his mercy—through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
I read Titus 3 and all I see is God does, God does, God does, God does, God does, God does.
God does it all. Perfectly. All you got to do is sit there, lie there or stand there and just like that, your old heart is swapped out and the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now you have new affections and new desires. Now you walk in his statutes and now you obey his law. Because the Triune God now dwells in you. Because God has saved you!
For those who are saved by God, listen to what John hears:
Revelation 14:13 (CSB) Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they will rest from their labors, since their works follow them.”
Brothers and sisters, it is time to rest. God has done the work. Rest in Christ. Sleep well for you belong to the only God who saves.
Matthew 11:28–30 (CSB) “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
7-10 What then? Israel did not find what it was looking for, but the elect did find it. The rest were hardened, as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear, to this day. And David says, Let their table become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and their backs bent continually.
Without God, this is us. Without God, we have no hope in putting in our hope and trust in him. We are stupid. We are blind. We are death.
Go back and read the Gospels. Pay careful attention to the healings of Christ.
Christ did not come just to physically heal the sick, lame, blind, mute, and dumb! In each of the healings of Christ, he is proclaiming the truth:
See this blind man? This is you. I will open his eyes. But I will open your eyes to see me.
See this hurt woman? This is you. I will heal her infirmities. But I will make you a new creation.
Look at the Gospel of Mark starting at Mark 7:31:
- Christ opens our ears so that we now hear God Mark 7:31-37
- Christ gives us life because we are dead Mark 8:1-10
- Christ renews our minds so we can understand God Mark 8:11–13
- Christ gives us new hearts so we would receive God Mark 8:14–21
- Christ opens our eyes so that we would see God Mark 8:22–26
- Christ is the only way to God Mark 8:27–30
Without him, we would perish. We would perish in our sin and in our sin, we only harden our own hearts just like Pharoah. Just like Esau. Just like Judas.
But God saves. With that, you must be born again. And God has to give the new birth. You cannot work your way into the kingdom of God. You will have to be a new creation in Christ. You must be born again. This is outside of you. This has be of God.
But ask God for God and you will receive God. Here's the truth: the fact you ask for God means that God has already saved you--you just now figuring it out.
Blessed be his glorious name.