Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 5 Study # 4
September 29, 2009
Lincolnton, N.C.

<532> Thesis: The participation of the grafted branches in the "fatness" of the olive tree with the possibility of being "cut off" because of a return to the former unbelief is an issue we need to understand. Introduction: Before Paul launched into his treatment of "the problems with election" in Romans 9-11, he pointedly declared that "nothing" can separate us from the love of God. He said this as an "I have been persuaded" fact (8:38). That means that this "fact" had become an integrated part of his personal belief system. But it is Paul who declares to his readers that they live in danger of the possibility of being "cut off from the tree into which they have been grafted" in Romans 11:22. For most people this sets up an impossible conundrum for which their only solution is to embrace one side of the issue and reject the other. This is the reason that the Calvinist/Arminian debate has raged through the ages and continues to do so today. In the street language of "Christendom" this is expressed in opposing declarations: "you cannot lose your salvation" and "you can, too, lose your salvation". This point that I wish to make at the outset of our study this evening is that it is Paul who made the declarations that appear to be irreconcilable. Another point, however, is that, since Paul was an inspired apostle, the problem is not with him, but with those who do not understand him. This evening we are going to attempt to grasp the meaning of his warning by looking at the issues of his extended metaphor regarding the olive tree that is being altered by pruning and grafting. If we are able to do this we will also be able to grasp the meaning of his conviction that he could not be separated from the love of God.