Father in heaven, thank You for this time for us to come together to study Your Word. Thank You for these men who are so devoted to Christ, and I pray that You would bless them, sanctify them, strengthen them. And for everyone who is watching by livestream and through website post, I pray that You will attend to their needs and minister to them. So, give us now eyes to see, understand Your Word. Fill me with your Spirit that I can be a faithful teacher of Your Word. And we pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Alright, Romans chapter 11, we are in verses 1 through 11 today, Lord willing, if we can cover this. And the title of this Bible study is “A Chosen Remnant,” a chosen remnant. Let me begin by reading the text. “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He?” Question mark. “May it never be!” Exclamation point. “For I too am an Israelite, a descendent of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.’ But what is the divine response to him? ‘I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
In this study, we begin a brand-new chapter, Romans chapter 11, and we find here Paul’s most complete teaching on the future of the nation Israel. Now, we might wonder, “Why would this be important to us?” After all, all of us except for Dan here is a Gentile. And so, “Why would we be concerned with Israel? What does this have to do with me?” Well, the fact is it has a lot to do. In fact, we could almost say everything to do with us, because all of God’s purposes are intertwined into one purpose. But it was to Israel that God sent the prophets. From Israel came the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. God had His own Son born a Jew in Israel. The twelve disciples were Jews. The first church was a Jewish church. The gospel was to go to Israel first and only to the Greeks then thereafter. Jesus, when He comes back, will return to Israel and He will land at the Mount of Olives. And, Israel has always been really at the epicenter of God’s redeeming plan and program. So, for us to be unconcerned with Israel would almost be for us to be unconcerned about the Bible because the Bible is so predominantly Jewish in its flavor as it has now come though and expanded to us as Gentiles. So, because we study the Bible, read the Bible, and the Bible is important to us, therefore Israel is important to us.
So, the question on the table, as Paul begins Romans 11, and the whole chapter is going to be devoted to this; the question is, “What will happen in the future to ethnic Israel? Is God through with Israel? Has the church replaced Israel in God’s plan or is there still yet a future plan for Israel? Is there a future salvation of Israel? Does God still have a purpose in His plan for the Jew?” That is the issue that is being addressed, and I think it is very important that we answer it correctly. And we are not just looking at a single verse. We are looking at an entire chapter that has to be addressed.
So, the vast majority of us here are Gentiles. We only have one that I know of that is a Jew. And so, as we look at this, this though nevertheless is important to every one of us. So, as we walk through these verses, I have several headings as always. They are just footsteps to walk us through the text.
And the first thing I want you to note is the pressing issue. That is at the beginning of verse 1, the pressing issue, because Paul’s manner of teaching is to raise an issue by asking a question that he knows must be on the mind of his readers. And so, what he anticipates on the mind of the readers is very simply this, “So, what about Israel?” If God has chosen Israel to be His people, and if so few Jews are actually being saved, and if the church is now becoming predominantly Gentile, what does this say about Israel? So, he says in verse 1, “For I say then.” And when he says, “For I say then,” you feel this summation tone to his words here. And it really looks back at chapter 9 and chapter 10 that Israel has sought a righteousness with God by their own works, and they have rejected God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, they crucified Him. So, what does this say about God’s relationship to Israel?
So, “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He?” And “His people” refers to His chosen people, referring to the nation of Israel, the ethnic Jews. The word “rejected” here is a Greek word apotheo that means to cast aside, to throw away, to thrust away. And so, he puts it in the form of a question that implies a negative answer, “God has not rejected His people, has He?”
Now, God, if He were like us, would have every reason to reject Israel. I mean, Israel had killed the prophets. Israel had spurned the message of the Old Testament. Israel put to death the forerunner, John the Baptist. Israel crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel blatantly trampled underfoot the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, from a human perspective, we understand the question. It is a natural question that would be raised, “Has God rejected His people?” And right now, as Paul writes this on his third missionary journey, there is every reason that God would have rejected Israel if it was only looked at from a human perspective. And I think it extends even to this present hour in the twenty-first century, not just the first century, but the twenty-first century. Is God done with Israel? Is there no longer God’s working in and through the Jew? So that is the pressing issue.
Note second the emphatic denial, and I will have to apologize I haven’t been able to alliterate this outline, so the emphatic denial. Notice what he says in verse 1, “May it never be!” That is two words in the Greek language, and it is the strongest negative response in the Greek language, me genoito. It has been loosely transliterated, “No, no. A thousand times no.” “Absolutely not.” “No way!” “That’s impossible.” “That is inconceivable.” The King James chose to translate it very loosely, “God forbid!” “By no means!” This is the ninth time in the book of Romans Paul has said, “May it never be!” When Paul wants to slam the door shut, he says, me genoito. “May it never be!” And if God was to forsake Israel, God would be forsaking virtually Himself, certainly denying His own Word that He had spoken to Israel. So, that is the emphatic denial.
Now, Paul is a master teacher. And he doesn’t just slam the door shut. He now follows up, number three, with the convincing proof. And he gives us three convincing reasons why God will never forsake Israel and why God has not forsaken Israel in the first century and why He is not going to forsake Israel at the end of the age.
So, here are the three reasons.
The first Paul puts on the table is a personal proof, a personal proof, and Paul uses his own testimony and his own life as proof positive. God has not forsaken Israel. Paul is like waving his hands and saying, “What do you think I am? I am a Jew.” So, he begins with himself. So, that is why he says in the middle of verse 1, “For I too am an Israelite,” obviously the “I” referring to Paul as the author of these words, and he presents himself as exhibit A that God has not utterly rejected the Jews. And Paul is not just a Jew. He is a Jew of Jews. No one was more Jewish than the Apostle Paul. He will tell us in Philippians 3 verses 4 and 5 that he was circumcised on the eighth day; that he was, to use in his own terms, “a Hebrew of Hebrews.” You can’t be anymore Hebrew than being a Hebrew of Hebrews, and then he says, “As to the law, a Pharisee.” That is a smaller circle within Israel, extreme to the right, separated even from the rest of Israel. They are not Jewish enough, the Pharisees.
The word “Pharisee” means “separatist.” They have set themselves apart from not just sin in the world, but just even cultural Jewish-ness, we would say cultural Christianity today, people just going through the empty motions of Jewishness. No, the Pharisees were hardball. They were hardball to the right. And so, Paul in Philippians 3:4 and 5 says, “I am a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, I am a Pharisee.” He was so devoted to Jewishness, he says in that passage, “I was a persecutor of the church.” He wasn’t just riding the fence, putting his arms around everybody. No. He was so all-out for Jewishness that he was the chief tormentor and persecutor of the church. So, when he says, “For I too am an Israelite,” yeah, you bet he was an Israelite. Nobody was more of an Israelite than the Apostle Paul. And then, he adds to that “a descendent of Abraham,” meaning he is a physical descendent of Abraham. He traces his lineage and he traces his roots back to Abraham. Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel. He was the father of the Jewish people. So, he is just driving a nail into the board and establishing his argument for Jewishness.
But if that were not enough, he then adds, “of the tribe of Benjamin.” Now, that is one of the twelve tribes of Israel, also one of the elite tribes of Israel. Benjamin was one of only two tribes in the south that remained more loyal to the Word of God than the ten tribes to the north, though the two tribes to the south eventually capitulated and caved in as well. But, the tribe of Benjamin, it was out of the tribe of Benjamin that came the first king of Israel, Saul. The Apostle Paul was named for Saul, King Saul. And the land that was given to the tribe of Benjamin, guess what is right in the middle of the land given to the tribe of Benjamin? Jerusalem, the holy city, the temple, where temple worship was conducted. I mean, location, location, location in real estate.
The tribe of Benjamin is smack dab in the middle of what God was doing in the nation of Israel. And so, when he says, “of the tribe of Israel,” he is putting his credentials out there. He is letting his readers know in Rome that “No, God hasn’t forsaken Israel. Look at me!” No one was more rooted and grounded in the soil of Israel than Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul. So, that is evidence number one that Paul puts on the table. He begins with the micro, and then he will work his way out to the macro.
So, he then says second, a theological proof, a doctrinal proof, if you will. So, beginning in verse 2, “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.” Now, the word “foreknowledge” does not mean foresight. The word “foreknowledge” means whom God previously chose to love. That is what the word “foreknowledge” means. And God, previously before time began, made a choice among all the nations of the world to set His heart of affection upon the nation Israel. And Paul’s argument here is that sovereign election is irrevocable, that sovereign election is irreversible, that those whom God chose before time can never be rejected within time. That is the point that he is making. God would have to deny Himself and His own promises and His own covenant love before He would reject Israel.
Now, let me just take you to a couple of verses in the Old Testament. Turn back with me to Deuteronomy, fifth book in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy chapter 7. And I just want you to see this, a couple of verses in your own Bible. We are going to go to just a couple of verses here, but I want you to see that it is God Himself that chose Israel. He chose to love Israel in a way that He has not chosen to love the other nations of the world.
So, Deuteronomy chapter 7 verse 6. Moses is giving his farewell sermons to the nation Israel, and he says, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God.” Moses is addressing the nation before they enter the Promised Land. “The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” God made a distinguishing choice. Out of all the nations around the globe, God singled out one nation by His sovereign will to choose to be His own possession through whom He would work in a very unique and special way. And that would be the case as the Word of God itself would essentially come out of the nation Israel, and the Messiah would come out of the nation Israel. The Law and the covenant promises would come through the nation Israel.
Now, look at the next verse, verse 7. “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you.” Stop right there! I want you to see the synonymous interchanging of “love” and “choose.” Do you see that in your Bible? For God to love is to choose to love, and for God to choose is to choose to love. God chose to love Israel in a way He did not choose to love other nations. I didn’t write this book. I am just telling you what is in this book. Verse 7, “For the Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number,” meaning in population, “than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all the peoples.” How much like God is this? God reaches down to the bottom of the barrel when He chooses whom He is going to work through. He didn’t choose the Egyptians, He didn’t choose the Babylonians, He didn’t choose the Assyrians. He chose that tiny little speck of landmass that is the same distance from here to downtown Fort Worth, 45 miles across. It is just a tiny little sliver of a finger of land.
So, why did God choose Israel? At the beginning of verse 8, he gives the only reason that he is going to give us, “But because the Lord loved you.” Why? Just because God chose to love Israel. The reason is known only to God. And the reason, even deeper, is found only in God. Known by God and God alone, according to the wisdom of His eternal counsel, He chose to set His heart on the nation Israel.
Now come, if you would, to Jeremiah 31, which will be the second major prophet. Jeremiah 31 verse 37. And God is talking about the miracle of regeneration, the miracle of the new birth. Let’s just start in verse 33, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” It is talking about the new birth, the circumcision of the heart. And He says, verse 34, “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor, each man his brother, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, declares the Lord, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” This is God’s promise to save the Jewish people.
Now, can this ever be revoked? Can this ever be rescinded? Look at verse 36. Well, let me just start in verse 35. It is hard to pass over any of this. “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day, and the fixed order of the moon, and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name. ‘If this fixed order departs,'” meaning the rotation of the planets around the sun, the moon, the earth, the sea, the ocean, the waves coming in, the waves going out, being pulled by the gravitation with the moon, this fixed order that God has established in the entire universe. What His argument is going to be, I will just tell you before I read these verses. The whole universe would come to a standstill before God will stop loving Israel and before God will break His covenant relationship with Israel. The whole universe will stop before this is going to happen.
So, verse 36, “If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the Lord, “then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.” “Thus says the Lord, ‘If the heavens above can be measured,” and they cannot, “and the foundations of the earth searched out below,” and they cannot, “then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all they have done.'” And when He says, “for all they have done” meaning all their sin. God says, “You go measure the entire universe and get back with me. And once you have measured the dimensions of the entire galaxies, once you get that figured out, then I will cast off Israel, but until then I am remaining committed to the nation Israel.” And you will note the last word of verse 36. For how long? Forever. That is a pretty long time.
Now, come with me to one more passage, to Amos chapter 3 verse 2. This is going to be the third minor prophet. Amos chapter 3 in verse 2. For those of you highly spiritual, that is page 1291. Let me start in verse 1, Amos 3 verse 1, “Hear this word which the Lord has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire family,” referring to the offspring of Abraham, “which He brought up from the land of Egypt.” Now, watch this: “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth.'” Literally, out of the Hebrew, it says, “You only have I known,” which speaks of a love relationship in an intimate way. Not just know about, but “I have intimately, personally set My heart of love upon you. I have chosen to do this.” God has not said this to any other nation. He certainly hasn’t said this to America. He didn’t say it to anyone else at this time and He hasn’t said it to anyone else in this time.
So, come back if you would now to Romans chapter 11. And I am just with these cross-references wanting to put some pillars under what Paul just said to bear it up. We can’t just write off Israel. We can’t just say, “Well, God has set Israel on the shelf and He is never going to have a future purpose for Israel.” That flies in the face of countless verses, and I just gave you the tip of the iceberg.
So, number one is Paul’s personal proof, “I am a Jew.” Second, theological proof, God has foreknown His people. That means before the foundation of the world God chose the nation Israel to be His own possession. That doesn’t mean everyone in the nation of Israel is foreknown in a redemptive way, but it does mean they are foreknown in a general covenant way of God choosing to work through them and to use them to reach the world.
Now, a third proof. I mean, Paul is just laying these out one after another. The third proof is found at the end of verse 2 and I am going to call it the “biblical proof,” in that he will now cite actual chapter and verse from the Old Testament to make his point, and he will go to Elijah. So, beginning in the middle of verse 2, “Or do you not know?” I can’t let that pass without making this comment. Whenever Paul says, “Or do you not know?” it is used in a little bit of a dismissive way, in that if you are thinking you know this, “Do you not know this?” I mean, there is a little bit of a slightly sarcastic dismissive tone to those words, “Or do you not know?” In other words, this is Theology 101. This is kindergarten stuff.
Or, “Do you not know what the Scripture says?” In other words, “Don’t you know your Bible? If you know your Bible, you know this.” “In the passage about Elijah.” Now, Elijah is that fiery prophet of Israel, remember, who challenged the prophets of Baal to let fire fall down on the altar? “Let the true God answer by fire.” And so, “how he pleads with God against Israel?” Now, that word “against” is an important word here because Elijah appeals to God against Israel because Israel has been up to their nostrils in apostasy. Israel has been up to their eyeballs in idolatry. King Ahab with Queen Jezebel. I mean, she was a devil with a blue dress on. She was an ungodly woman and she was a priestess in the cult of Baal, and she convinced Ahab to tear down all of the altars of God around the country, just rip them down stone by stone and put in their place altars to the pagan idol Baal and leave the whole nation to worship Baal. I mean, it was a dark hour in the nation Israel. It was a generation that had gone apostate. And so, Elijah is pleading with God against Israel, “God, You’re going to have to do something. God, You’re going to have to judge these people. These are my people.”
And then in verse 3, he quotes out of 1 Kings 19, “Lord,” and there is a sense of fervency when he…”Lord, they have killed Your prophets,” “they” referring to Israel. Israel killed their own prophets. The ones whom God sent to preach to Israel, Israel rose up and murdered them and slaughtered them. They didn’t want to hear the Word of God. And then he adds, “They have torn down Your altars.” They have ripped down Your altars that would lead to the true worship of God and instead have turned to worshiping Baal. It was just a dark hour in Israel.
And, Elijah says in verse 3, “I alone am left.” And I can kind of understand how he comes to this self-pity moment. I mean, he looks around and he doesn’t see anyone to the left and he doesn’t see anyone to the right. He sees himself standing all alone at this moment, and he presumes that he is the only true believer in the whole nation. And he says, “They are seeking my life.” They are not neutral about Elijah. Ahab and Jezebel are after him like a hunting dog after the prey. And so, God responds in verse 4. But Paul raises the question. He is such a master teacher. Paul raises this question and then gives the Old Testament citation, “But what is the divine response to him?” So, how did God respond to Elijah regarding Israel?
Now, God speaks, “I,” that is God is the speaker. “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal,” have not succumbed to pagan worship. The point that God is making with Elijah, “It may seem like you are the only one, but you need to understand how I operate. I always have a remnant. I always have a chosen minority. In the midst of the ungodly majority, I always have My people. I have not rejected Israel. I am still at work in and through Israel. It is just with a very small remnant,” though seven thousand is not that small. So, those are the three proofs that Paul puts on the table: personal, theological, and biblical. It is an airtight case.
So now, number four, “the present reality” in verse 5. So from these three proofs, Paul draws this important conclusion. So, in verse 5, “In the same way.” So, here is going to be Paul’s argument, as it was then, so it is now. “In the same way, there has come to be at the present time,” referring to the middle of the first century. Paul wrote this in about 57 or 58 AD. I am going to say it has extended all the way down to today in the twenty-first century. “There has come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.”
Now, what is a remnant? A remnant is a small piece of something that is left over, that is hardly noticed, that is ready to be discarded. It is a small surviving part of the whole. Now today, we use the word. You go into a business place to buy some carpet, and if you are wanting to save money you will hear the price on the regular carpet, and you will go, ‘”Well, do you have any remnants?” And the remnants are just so marked down because they are just like little, almost like swatches, little corners of pieces that are left over that the main buyer didn’t need. And so, it is just a little small piece and they throw it over in the warehouse in a corner. And it is just almost like a junkyard with a bunch of old cars stacked up, and maybe if someone wants to come buy this door handle, they will come by. It is just what is left over. That is what the word “remnant” means, and it is predominantly an Old Testament word and concept that was used concerning the nation Israel. This is the only time in the entire New Testament, this Greek word is used for “remnant,” but it’s used sixty-two times in its Hebrew equivalent in the Old Testament.
So, Paul is even pulling this word out of the Jewishness of the Old Testament to make his point, “a remnant,” and he is talking about here a small remnant of believing Jews that God has chosen from before the foundation of the world, not just as a chosen nation. This is inside of the chosen nation. This is an election unto salvation. So, when he says at the end of verse 5, “According to God’s gracious choice,” that literally reads, “according to God’s election of grace” or literally translated “according to God’s election by grace.” It is a Greek word ek-legomai. It is a compound word. Legomai is the main root word, l-e-g-o-m-a-i, and it just means “to choose.” You put the prefix ek, e-k in front of it, ek means “out of.” So, ek-legomai means “to choose out of,” and the idea is to choose out of the whole a small remnant. So, that is what Paul is teaching, and the word was used in the Septuagint, which was the Greek translation of the Hebrew before the coming of Christ.
It was used of David going down to the river creek right before he fought Goliath, and he chose five stones to put in his slingshot. Now, there were more than just five stones in that riverbed, but he chose just five out of the whole that perfectly fit his purposes and his needs to bring Goliath down.
The word was also used of Joshua, a verse you are very familiar with, Joshua 24. I think it is like verse 17, “Choose you this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The nation Israel has just come into the Promised Land, which had been inhabited by the Canaanites with all the Canaanite religions. And so, there were any number of multifaceted Canaanite false religions. And so, Joshua stands in front of the whole nation and says, “You’re going to have to make a choice. Out of all of these gods, choose you which one of these gods you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That is the word that is used here, ek-legomai, to make a choice out of the many, to choose a few out of the many. Paul’s point here is that God made a distinguishing choice of certain Jews before time began whom He would save. He chose the whole nation in a general way, but He chose a remnant within that nation in a redemptive way.
Now, I want to just give you some words here, I am going to give you seven words that will help us define the doctrine of election because here it is right in the text and I can’t just speed past this verse without being a faithful Bible teacher to you. So, let me give you seven words that will help us define this doctrine of election. Number one is “divine.” It is God’s choice of sinners, not sinners’ choice of God. Sinners will choose God eventually, but it is only because God has chosen sinners. God’s choice is the cause. Sinners’ choice is the result or the effect. God’s choice is the root. Sinners’ choice of God is the fruit. So, number one is “divine.” When we talk about election, it is God’s divine choice, not man’s. John 15:16, Jesus said, “You did not choose Me but I chose you.”
The second word is “pretemporal.” That means it was made before time began, before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4. In eternity past is when God made this distinguishing choice.
Three, individuals. It is God’s choice of specific individual people. This is not dealing in verse 5 with His choice of the whole nation. This is His choice of individuals within the nation. And I would refer us back to Romans 9. God chose Jacob, not Esau. God chose Moses, not Pharaoh. God chose individuals.
Fourth, gracious. It is solely by grace. It is not based upon any human merit or any foreseen good works. It is entirely by the grace of God. It is not because of us; it is in spite of us that God chose us.
Fifth, it’s “Christ-centered.” It is based upon the perfections of Christ. It is not based upon us. Ephesians 1:4 says, “He chose us in Him,” referring to Christ, “before the foundation of the world,” because of who Christ is and what Christ would do on our behalf.
Sixth: It is “saving.” Sometimes people try to get around the doctrine of election by saying it only deals with service but it doesn’t deal with eternal destinies. Wrong. I’d just point you back to Romans 9. Carefully, reread it several times. You will never get that sense. It is referring to eternal destinies, and God’s sovereign election is a saving choice.
And then seven, it is “irrevocable,” which is the point of these verses, that those whom God chose in eternity past, that choice can never be annulled. It can never be canceled and it can never be rescinded. This is why God cannot reject Israel. First of all, He chose the whole nation in a general way to be His possession through whom He would work. So, He can’t deny that. But even within the nation Israel, there is a redemptive choice of those whom He will save. It is like double jeopardy. He can’t double deny Himself. So, that is the point that Paul is making.
So, under this heading “The Present Reality” in verse 5, it is true even to this day. And not to embarrass Dan here, but Dan sitting right here is an ethnic Jew, who is a completed Jew. He is born again by the Spirit of God from above. And I don’t how many people we have here today. Let us just say there are forty of us here, I don’t know what the number is, we got one out of forty, and so that is really a microcosm of the globe, that this is just almost a picture of the whole world, that there is a small little remnant that is being preserved in grace until the end of the age.
Now, when we get to the end of Romans 11, you are going to see in verse 29 that He is going to save all Israel, and we will talk about that. In the last days, there will be a great movement among the Jewish people to come back to their Messiah and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have got that to look forward to. But, let me give you the last heading, verse 6 here, the last heading is “the underlying principle,” and I need to finish this. As much as I want to go to the Q&A, I have got to put this in.
Number five, “The Underlying Principle” in verse 6. This is good stuff, men. This is good stuff. Here is the basis by which a remnant within Israel will never be rejected by God, and it is the word that is used three times in this verse. You can see it for yourself. It is the word “grace.” It is because of grace. That is the underlying principle. Israel deserved nothing in order to be chosen. There are no works that they did for God to have chosen them, and there are no works that they can perform that God will reject them. The way they got in is the way they are going to stay in. It is all by grace.
So, look at verse 6. “But if it is by grace,” and he is talking about saving grace, “it is no longer on the basis of works.” Salvation by grace is totally contrary to salvation by works. I mean, the two are incompatible, grace and works. It is either/or; it is never both/and. You are either going to be saved by grace or you are going to be saved by works. It is never a combination. Some people think you go to heaven like you are in a rowboat, one oar is grace and the other oar is faith. It is a nifty little illustration. The only problem with that is you are not going to heaven in a rowboat, okay? It is either all of grace according to the Bible, I will take the Bible over the illustration, or it is all of works. You choose which way you want it. And if you want by works, you are never going to get there.
It is only by grace that you were chosen. It is only by grace that you were redeemed. It is only by grace that you are going to be preserved and one day glorified. It is just all of grace from start to finish, from eternity past to eternity future. That is Paul’s point that he is making here. So, how in the world could God cast away those whom He chose when the whole thing started with grace? God can’t shift now from grace to works. No, it is all of grace. That’s the underlying principle.
So, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” So, salvation is not by human works; it is by divine working. It is not by human merit; it is by divine mercy. It is not even by human initiative; it is by divine initiative. And grace, if it was the entire Pacific Ocean of grace, there is not even one drop out of an eyedropper of works into the whole Pacific Ocean of grace. Otherwise then, that would cancel out the entire Pacific Ocean of grace if there was just one raindrop of works into the Pacific Ocean. It is all of grace, a hundred and ten percent of grace.
So, this is good news for us I want to tell you, because how God operates with Israel is how God operates with you and me as Gentiles, okay? And it is all of grace that God chose you. There was nothing in you that would have made God choose you. You were a car wreck of a person. And as you were in your sin in Adam, God chose you simply because He chose you, because He wanted to choose you, because it pleased Him to choose you. Therefore, as He has now drawn you to Himself and kept you and redeemed you and reconciled you by grace, there was nothing you did to be reconciled to God. There was nothing you did to redeem yourself. There was nothing you did to propitiate the righteous anger of God towards you. It was all of grace. Therefore, comma, there is nothing that you can do to keep yourself in Christ. It is all of grace. You are sealed shut by the Holy Spirit in Christ, Ephesians 1 verse 13 and 14, and you are preserved by grace until you step into glory. And that is why when God gives you a crown it is going to be on your head for about half a second, if that long, and you are just going to cast it back at His feet, recognizing it was all of grace. There is no reason for this crown to be on my head. It is all of God’s grace that we will one day stand before the throne of grace.
So, this is a great passage. There is great teaching in these verses, and you and I now are a part of this remnant of grace. I say “now.” We were in this remnant of grace in eternity past when God chose His elect, because He chose not only Jews to be a part of the bride of Christ, He also chose Gentiles to be a part of the body of Christ.
And we have got a bunch of these coming. I know I was gone for the last month, but we have got a bunch of these coming in a row. We are going to get through Romans 11. We will see God is not finished with Israel. He is not casting them aside. I only want to get ahead of myself. You just have to come back for it. It is the strange workings of God’s providence through the nation Israel.