Romans 11 Verse by Verse preaching
April 12, 2015
"In order to understand chapter 11, you have to understand a few statements that are made in chapter 9. We'll get to that as we go along, but let's look at chapter 11, verse 1. 'Hath God cast away his people?' Now, the reason that he's asking this question is because he just explained in chapter 10 how the Jews rejected God... So it leaves the obvious question when we get into chapter 11, 'Has God cast away his people?' Has God just cast away the nation of Israel? Is he through with them? Has he cast them off? Are they no longer his people? Are the Jews still God's people?
"Now look what he says here: 'God forbid.' Now if we were to stop reading right there, we would think, 'Oh, the Jews are still God's chosen people; he hasn't cast them off.' Well no, let's keep reading. 'For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.' You see, the man who's writing here, Paul, is also a Jew. He was a physical born Israelite. Was he saved? Yes. Is he one of God's people? Yes. And so it says here, 'God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elijah? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying' -- so he's praying to God against Israel -- '"Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life." But what saith the answer of God unto him? "I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal."' And then look what it says: 'Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.'
"So, we understand from verses 1-5 that God did not cast away his people only in the sense that some of the Israelites were believers. Is he saying in verses 1-5 that unbelieving Israel is still God's people? No. That would contradict what he just taught us in chapter 9, when he said, 'They are not all Israel, which are of Israel.' [Rom 9:6] He made it very clear when he said, 'They which are the children of the flesh,' -- the physical children of Israel -- 'these are not the children of God. But the children of the promise are counted for the seed.' [Rom 9:8] And he explains that those who are saved by grace through faith are God's people. 'God has not cast away his people' only in the sense that some Jews are saved: they do believe on Jesus Christ, and they are part of God's chosen people."
"Now flip back in your Bible, if you would, to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 31, verse 35. 'Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is his name.' Here God is describing how he's the one who makes the sun rise and set, he's the one who makes the stars move in their courses, he's the one who makes the waves crash and the tide come in. God is the one who controls nature, and it's a pretty big thing that he's controlling - a pretty major interaction of all the different systems, and the weather, and the universe, and the atoms, and the cells, and the molecules... God is controlling it all.
"Now, people have taken this passage I'm showing you right here to try to prove what I've preached wrong, saying that unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Israel, the nation of Israel in 2007 -- I'm talking about the country that's over there, right now in Palestine, called Israel. I'm talking about the city of Jerusalem. I said that that city is not God's city, and those people are not God's people. Period. What's that city called? What's that city of Jerusalem called according to God in Revelation 11? It's spiritually called Sodom. That's what it's called. Now it's physically called on the map Jerusalem. What does God think it's called? God says, 'I have a name for it: Sodom.' He said, 'I have a name for it: Hagar', as we saw in Galatians chapter 4. It represents false religion through the city of Jerusalem. The false religion of Islam is based there. The false religion of Judaism is based there. And the false works-salvation Christianity charismatic movement looks to Jerusalem as a holy city. We look to the heavenly Jerusalem, that cometh down from God out of heaven, which is a totally different place, and the Bible makes that clear in Galatians 4.
"But they show me this verse, and they say, 'SEE! This verse proves that God would not take the kingdom of God away from them as he said he would in Matthew 21. Well let's read it. '"If these ordinances depart from before me," saith the Lord, "then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever." Thus saith the Lord' -- watch this -- '"If heaven above can be measured"' -- and we know that heaven cannot be measured; nobody knows how big the universe is and no scientist; they tell you it's infinite -- '"and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath"' -- has anybody ever been to the center of the earth? never; nobody knows what's down there -- '"I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done," saith the Lord.' SEE! God says NEVER will he cast off the seed of Israel, even if the -- you know, until they can measure the heavens, and until the sun and moon stop shining.'
"That's not what it says. There's a word that they forgot there. The key word, have you spotted it, in verse 37? He says, 'I will also cast off ALL the seed of Israel.' See, God only promised not to cast off ALL the seed of Israel. Did he cast off all the seed of Israel? 'God forbid, for I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.' Remember, that's what Paul said. So Paul is kind of alluding back to this. Basically what Paul is saying in Romans 11 verse 1, when he says, 'I say then, hath God cast away his people?' He's saying, 'Did God break his promise from Jeremiah 31:37?' And the answer is a redounding and resounding no, because 'even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.' Now, the election means 'chosen'. Like you choose the president; you elect him. Are the election and the Jews the same thing? No, because look at verse 7: 'What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it.' Two different groups.
"Now look at verse 6, and I love verse 6. You want to talk about being redundant? You want to talk about being repetitive? Listen to this: 'And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.' Now that's kind of like a little tongue-twister, like a poem. But what's God trying to say? You can't mix the two. It's not faith and works. He's saying if it's works, it's not grace... So we see in verse 6, unequivocally, God is just trying to drive home that you can't mix faith and works. It's either all grace, or it's all works.
"Look at verse number 8 -- or actually look at verse 7: '...and the rest were blinded, according as it is written, "God hath given them the spirit of slumber."' Now that's kind of strange, isn't it? Who gave them the spirit of slumber? God did. '"Eyes that they should not see."' Who gave them eyes that they should not see? God did. '"And ears that they should not hear"'. Who gave them the ears that they should not hear? God did. 'Unto this day.' Now let's think for a second. Do we believe that God chooses who goes to heaven and hell? Absolutely not. God is not willing that any should perish. God wants everyone to be saved. Jesus died for everybody. Clearly, unequivocally.
Well, flip back to John chapter 12, if you would. Flip back to John chapter 12, and look at verse number 37. I remember one of my relatives called me on the phone one time; they were reading this and they called, and said, 'I cannot understand this.' And they said, 'Can you explain this to me?' And I explained it to him. It says in John 12:37, 'But though he had done so many miracles before them' -- Jesus -- 'yet they believed not on him.' So we're seeing a group of people here, the Pharisees, and really, the house of Israel -- not just the Pharisees but a lot of the people of the house of Israel -- they saw many, many miracles according to the Bible. They heard all kinds of preaching, they heard it again and again; they saw the miracles again and again, yet they believed not on him! Is that God's fault? Was that God's choice that they did not believe on him? No, that was their choice to refuse to believe all the miracles and all the preaching that they were seeing. That wasn't God's choice. God wished that they would have gotten saved. That's their problem. 'That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?' Look at verse 39: 'Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, "He hath blinded their eyes"' -- who blinded their eyes? God -- '"and hardened their heart"' -- who hardened their heart? God -- '"that they should not see with their eyes, not understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." These things said Isaiah when he saw his glory and spake of him. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.'
"Now we see throughout the Bible -- Pharaoh, on and on -- we see people making their own choice to reject God. Pharaoh hardened his own heart, but later, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as a result. We saw that in Romans chapter 9. The same thing is here with the children of Israel: Jesus came unto his own, and his own received him not. They rejected him of their own volition. That wasn't God's fault. Now, when they rejected God, do you remember what they said when he was going to be killed on the cross? Pilate said, 'I am free from the blood of this just person.' Remember, Pontius Pilate washed his hands and said, 'I am free from the blood of this just person.' And what did they say? 'His blood be on us and on our children.' Boy, I get chills up and down my spine every time I read that. How can anyone say that? 'His blood be on us and on our children.'
"People can push things too far with God, and they are unable to believe on Jesus Christ because they've pushed it too far. They had many chances, and God said, 'I am through with you.' And it's just like where we started in Romans chapter 1: he gives them up and gives them over to a reprobate mind. He pushes them off and says, 'I'm through with you.' 'To hell with you,' is basically what he is saying. 'You've pushed it too far, and you are damned eternally, condemned, and you cannot be saved, you cannot believe. I will harden your heart, I will blind your eyes, I'll give you ears that you can't hear.'
"So don't let that bother you. It's not that God's choosing who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. It's people making their own choice, and then God stops giving them a choice eventually. Eventually God decides he's had enough. He's had enough!
"Now look if you would at the next verse. This is a little bit shocking. Look at verse number 9. 'And David saith, "Let their table be made a snare."' Now this is David praying. He's praying about these people who God has rejected, who pushed it too far with God. David said, '"Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block and a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway."'
"Now, have you ever noticed in the book of Psalms -- If you're a student of the Bible, and if you've spent time reading the book of Psalms as you should – (Boy, the book of Psalms is one of the greatest books in the Bible. The most doctrinal, fantastic book... I love the book of Psalms.) You’ll notice that David will sometimes pray destruction upon people. He'll actually pray for people to fall, and pray for people to be killed, and pray for people to be destroyed by God. And he'll tell God, 'Forgive not their sin'. He tells God to damn them to hell. Okay, you may not have read that; you need to increase your Bible reading, okay? You need to read the book of Psalms a lot more. Theologians call these psalms the imprecatory psalms. 'Imprecate' means to curse. They're basically a curse like this: 'Let their table be made a snare.'
"Now is he just praying that on anybody he doesn't like? Absolutely not. The Bible says that we're to love our enemies. And to do good to them that hate us. And to pray for them which spitefully use us and persecute us. We're not to pray bad things on our enemies. We're supposed to pray good things on our enemies. We're supposed to bless our enemies. But there are people who are the enemies of God. The people like we just read about before the service. Before the sermon, where I read to you that news story about Farmington, New Mexico [about the gay pastor]. Those kind of people are the bad guys. Those are the ones that are evildoers, that God said he hates and on and on."
“That's what that is talking about here. That's what David is praying about. I was thinking about a verse in Jeremiah, where God says ‘pray not for this people.’ He's talking about the land of Judah. It's gone too far. It's too late for them. They will go into captivity. They will be destroyed. Now because of some good kings like Josiah, the Bible says that God withheld his judgment for a little while. Even Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, 'Babylon is going to be judged.' But he said, 'If you will be righteous and do this and do that,' he said, 'you can have a lengthening of your tranquility.' Hezekiah did right before God, and God said 'I'm not going to destroy the nation until after you are already dead and gone, because I have respect for you.'
"But in verse number 11 it says, 'I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall?' He's talking about the Jews. 'God forbid. But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.' Now what is God saying here? What he's saying is that through the Jews' rejection of the gospel, the gospel went to the Gentiles. Now, is he saying before the Gentiles could not be saved? That's not what he's saying. What he's saying is that because the Jews rejected the gospel, it caused people like Paul -- If you remember in Acts chapter 28, flip back there if you would. Paul here is preaching to the Jews in Rome, and he's preaching the gospel to them, and when he finishes preaching to them, the Bible says in verse number 24 that 'some believed the things which were spoken and some believed not.' This was a pretty typical reaction. He preaches salvation, some believe, and some don't believe. 'And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Isaiah the prophet unto our fathers, saying "Go unto this people and say, 'Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.' Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”’
" Paul is frustrated because he's preaching to the Jews, and they would not receive it, which causes him to say that it's going to the Gentiles. Earlier in the book of Acts he also said, 'From henceforth, I'm going to the Gentiles.' That's who wants to hear it; that's who we're going to give it to. So God's saying here, in chapter 11 verse 11, because the Jews rejected it, it really helped the Gentiles because now all these apostles and preachers and prophets -- they went out to the people who wanted to hear it. Out to the Gentiles. Out into all the world. That's why the Bible says in verse number 12, 'Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the richness of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.' What's he saying? He's saying, 'I'm glad that the Gentiles have gotten the opportunity to hear the gospel throughout the world because the Jews rejected the gospel.' But he said, 'Now what I'd like to see is for us as Gentiles to reach the Jews.' That is, to win them to Christ. He said personally, 'Because I am a Hebrew.' He says, 'I'm the apostle to the Gentiles, I preach to gentiles,’ but he said, 'My goal is to provoke', in verse 14, 'to emulation them which are my flesh, that I might save some of them.'"
"He says, 'I wish I could just get some of the Jews saved because they are my relatives and my family.' Now what does it mean to 'provoke to emulation'? Big words, right? What does 'emulation' mean? 'Emulation' means you're copying somebody. Have you ever heard of 'he emulates so-and-so', something like that. Who knows the word 'emulate'? Slip up your hand. 'Emulate': it means to copy someone, to be like someone. So he's saying, 'My goal, the way I live my life, is to provoke some of my relatives and my flesh to emulate me. To be like me, so I can save some of them.'
"Is that the kind of life that you live? Do you live the kind of life where people look at you and say, 'There's somebody I want to copy.' Do your nieces and nephews, do your children, do your brothers and sisters, do your family members, do the people at your work say 'I'd like to be just like so-and-so? I want to emulate them. I want to be like them. They're my hero.' Well, how about this? Would you want somebody to emulate you? Would that be a good thing? Well, that depends on how you're living, doesn't it? That makes you think, doesn't it? Do you want your children to grow up and be just like you? Do you want them to be just like you? Well you ought to. You ought to be someone that's worth emulating, is what Paul is saying here. You know, I should be to the point in my life where I can say to my kids, 'Do like I do.' And not have to say to them, 'Do as I say, and not as I do.' We’ve all heard that before. 'Do as I say, not as I do.' We ought to be able to say, 'Follow me as I follow Christ. Do like I do. Be like I am, son. Dress like I dress, son. Talk like I talk! Act like I act! Read the Bible like I read the Bible!' 'How much do I read the Bible, Dad?' 'Read it as much as I do.' 'How much do I pray?' 'Pray as much as I do.' 'How much do I go soul-winning?' 'Go soul winning like I go soul winning.'
“I'm not saying that everyone has to be exactly the same. Everybody's an individual. But you ought to be worth emulating. There are people I've emulated in my life. The first few times out soul-winning, I was emulating the people who taught me soul winning. My first few times preaching, I was emulating preachers that I've heard. I hope that they were worth emulating. I hope that I'm worth emulating. You ought to strive to be worth emulating, where your family members can have you to look to as a role model. You say, 'Well, I'm a woman.' Hey, there are people in your family who need a female role model to look at and say, 'I'm going to be like you.' 'I'm going to be like Aunt so-and-so.' 'I'm going to be like my big sister.' 'I'm going to be like Grandma.' 'I want to be like Mom.' I thank God that growing up I had some people that I was looking to as a role model and saying, 'I want to be like so-and-so.' That's the kind of person you ought to be. No matter who you are, somebody's looking to you, I promise you.
"You say, well, 'Nobody's looking to me, I'm not a leader.' I'm telling you: somebody's following you; somebody's looking at you. Maybe nobody's looking at you, but you can get somebody to look at you if you get their attention, if you provoke their emulation. I don't care whether you're a daughter; maybe you're a child, maybe you're a son, and maybe you're a brother, maybe you're a sister, or maybe you're an aunt or maybe you're an uncle. Why don't you be the person in your family that's leads the way spiritually. And I'm not talking about telling people what to do. I'm talking about leading by example. I'm talking about if people look up to you and say, 'There's a person who's a great godly Christian; there's a real soul winner; there's somebody who's consistent to church.' When you're in church you send a message to people that are emulating you. When you don't read the Bible like you should, you're sending a message. When they see you with a beer in your hand -- 'Oh, it's just once!' -- you send a real strong message to that person who's looking up to you. When you have that beer in your hand, when you turn on that DVD, you're sending a message to little kids that are there -- boys, girls, friends - emulating what you are like. You ought to be a person people can pattern their lives after. You need to set the pattern. I want to set the right pattern as a preacher. I want to set the right pattern as a father. You ought to set the right pattern as an employee. You ought to set the right pattern as a church member. Set the right pattern for the people who are looking to you; provoke them to emulation. Why? So that you can save some of them. Why? So they can get other people saved.
"And by the way, who's doing the saving in this verse? Paul said 'I'm saving someone.' A lot of people aren't comfortable with that, but I'm perfectly comfortable with the Bible. He says that 'I might save some of them.' Paul said, 'I become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.' [I Cor 9:22] Again, who's the subject?. 'I might save some.' That's the apostle Paul. How about this? Jude 22: 'And of some having compassion, making a difference, and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.' You say, who's the saviour? Jesus Christ. But if I point someone to the savior, I'm saving them. Okay? If I throw someone a life vest, the life vest saved them, but you know what, I'm the one who pointed them to the life vest; I saved them as well. And so salvation is through Jesus Christ -- he is the only saviour, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to take away any of the glory of salvation – but we work together with Jesus. We put on the yoke with Jesus. We work together to get people saved, and that was Paul's goal here.
"I'm going to skip a lot of this, where he basically goes on about the same things, just for sake of time. It's important, but I'm going to blow past some of it. The parable that he uses here is of an olive tree. This is very fascinating. I remember when I learned about this as a child, I was fascinated. I couldn't believe that this is actually done, but in those days they would graft -- And our word is 'graft'. G-R-A-F-T. But in the Bible here in the 17th century, the word was 'graff'. G-R-A-F-F. That changed over time into the word 'graft'. This is what they would do. They would take like an apple tree, and I'm probably using the wrong trees, but they would take like an apple tree, and they would cut out a branch of the apple tree, and then they would take a branch that they cut out of like an orange tree, and they would graft it into that trunk of the apple tree. Then you would have a tree that's growing apples on this branch and oranges on that branch. Isn't that unbelievable? Who's never heard of that? Put up your hand. Isn’t that weird? Okay, but they actually do that. There are certain trees that are much more productive if you take a branch from this one and put it on the trunk of that one.
"Now it's not apples and oranges, and I'm messing up the whole thing [laughter], but literally you can have a tree bearing more than one kind of fruit because you have these branches from another tree graft into it. Or you can take a tree of the same kind, take out a bad branch, and put in a good branch. Unbelievable, it's strange. And they even have the technology -- I mean they were doing it 2000 years ago, isn't that something?
"And so that's what God is talking about, and so he uses this parable of an olive tree. Basically there's a wild olive tree over here, and there's the cultivated olive tree that you would have in your garden. What he is saying is that the olive tree represented God's people; the kingdom of God. The Jews were the natural inheritors of that kingdom. They were broken off because of unbelief, the Bible says. Branches were broken off and removed from the olive tree. God took the Gentile nations and graffed them in their place as his people. So now you have an olive tree that has Jews and Gentiles graffed into the same olive tree, which together make up ‘the people of God.’ That’s what he is talking about here.
“I've heard a lot of people turn to this passage and try to prove that you can lose your salvation from this passage. But when the other 1188 chapters tell you that it's eternal and everlasting, and that you can't lose it, maybe you're a little confused if you're trying to say that this is teaching you can lose it. He's talking about nations here. We're not talking about personal salvation. He's saying that just as much as the Jews were cast away by and large (there was still a righteous remnant), he's saying that the United States can be cast away because of unbelief. The United States can be cast away because of wickedness. He’s also saying that those Jews who do believe on Jesus Christ will be graffed in. They'll be added back to that olive tree. That's all he's describing here. He's describing that God is not loyal to races or nations of people. It's believers on Jesus Christ that will be graffed into the olive tree. He's not saying that an individual personally can lose their salvation. He's saying that a nation can be broken off from being blessed by God. That's what he's talking about. The same thing is taught in Romans 9 where he is talking about the nation of Israel versus the Gentiles. He's not talking about personal salvation."