Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: The details of the "Plan" never destroy the final accomplishment of that "Plan".
Introduction: This evening we are going to begin a study of Romans 11. In so doing we are going to see that it is a continuation of Paul's initial issue in the Romans 9-11 unit. In the beginning of this unit of thought, Paul set forth the fact that a vast number of "Israelites" were lost and in need of some thing or some one who could bring them into salvation. This reality raised the spectre of the failure of the words of God. And Paul was adamant about the fact that such a spectre was impossible. In a similar way, the opening words of Romans 11 raise the same question: Does "Israel's" majority rejection of Abraham's God mean that God has decided to "cast away" His people?
Paul's answer is emphatic: absolutely not.
This evening we want to attempt to understand both what Paul wrote and why.
June 23, 2009
- I. What Did Paul Mean?
- A. His meaning is wrapped up in basic "T"heology (capital "T" Theology refers to God as opposed to His words and works).
- 1. We have made the claim times without number that when a writer used "I say" in the form used by Paul he was making a fundamental theological claim.
- 2. Fundamental theological claims are always rooted in "T"heology.
- 3. "T"heology is revealed for one major reason: Life issues from the perception of the truth about God.
- a. "Facts" make little difference to creatures if there is no discernible link to "Life".
- b. All "facts" are linked to "Life", but "Life" does not spring from those "facts" unless the hearer grasps the "linkage" and believes it.
- B. His meaning is very much connected to the content of the latter part of chapter ten wherein two realities are made very clear: "Israel" was disobedient and gainsaying; and "God", consequently, reacted by shifting His focus to the making of the "not my people" His people.
- 1. Thus Paul's "then" (therefore) points to the drawing of some kind of conclusion.
- 2. Whatever conclusion is drawn will be both "T"heological and "Life" determining.
- C. His meaning addresses a very obvious fact: God has "cast away" Israel.
- 1. The word translated "cast away" is used consistently in the New Testament to refer to a physical or mental (or both) "shoving" of some one or thing so that it cannot have any impact upon the one who is doing the "shoving".
- 2. That "Israel" is lost and in need of salvation (the major reality of both chapters nine and ten) has to mean that the "shoving" has been a two-way street: Israel "shoved" God aside and God, in turn, "shoved" Israel aside.
- a. The outworking of this "shoving" match means that there is no "Life" for "Israel".
- b. That God has turned to those "not My people" shows that Israel's "shoving" has caused God to turn from imparting Life to Israel to imparting Life to the Gentiles.
- D. His meaning rests upon the difference between "obvious Israel" and "the Israel of Promise".
- 1. In 9:8 Paul, in defending his thesis that God's words are never frustrated, made a critical distinction between "Israels".
- a. There is the "Israel" of Israel.
- b. There is the "Israel" of Promise.
- 2. In 11:5 Paul returns to the same distinction because he is dealing with the same thesis.
- a. There is a "group within a group" called "the remnant".
- b. The issue is the same: Has God "shoved" His words of promise away because the people of His nation have shoved them away?
- 3. Thus, in 11:1 the question is not whether God has "shoved Israel away", but whether God has "shoved His people away".
- a. God's people, in Paul's terminology, are two.
- 1) In God's Plan for the nation descended from Israel, there are those who are "My people".
- 2) In God's Plan for the Gentiles, there are those whom He makes "My people" (9:26).
- b. God's people, in Paul's terminology, are always "children of promise" and never "children of the flesh", regardless of whether there is any link between them and Jacob.
- c. In this context, the "people of God" are those who are within the progeny of Jacob, as Israel, who are believers in the promises: these "people of God" are not the disobedient and gainsaying "Israel" whom God has "shoved aside".
- II. Why Did Paul Question God's Action?
- A. People are almost impossible to wean from their "Missouri complex" (seeing is believing).
- B. But the works of God are, for the most part, difficult, if not impossible, to "see" because of one factor: massive appearances.
- C. And the words of God are generally disbelieved because of this one factor when it is coupled with the natural human antagonism toward any and all who would curb the satisfaction of their carnal appetites.
- D. Thus, Paul raised the question because so much of "Life" is at stake.
- 1. If God had, indeed, shoved His people aside, the words of promise were of no value.
- 2. If God's promises have no value, there is no point to believing them.
- 3. If God is not "believed", "Death" reigns.
- E. And Paul answered the question by means of his own identity.
- 1. For those who are impressed by appearances, this is no answer: who is Paul in the face of millions of Israelites who have rejected his message?
- 2. But those who are impressed by appearances have forgotten Romans 9:27/Isaiah 10:22-23.
- F. The bottom line: there are two parallel universes in operation, going in opposite directions, only one of which is going to prove to be successful.
- 1. The universe of appearances, dominated by Satan's principles, seeks to capitalize upon what God permits.
- 2. The universe of Promise, dominated by the love, wisdom, and power of God, uses all events to accomplish its goal without being tied to "capitalizing".