Thursday, February 08, 2007

God always keeps a remnant

I found this passage to be so cool.
1I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3"Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life." 4But what is God's reply to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
It comes from Romans 11. Do you see what is says? BY GRACE, God always keeps a remnant of believers for himself. He is never without his own people. His own people don't have to worry that they will be left behind by God, God always keeps a remnant for himself.

So even when we feel abandoned, persecuted, alone in the world as a believer, this passage is a passage of comfort. We are not alone. We can know and believe that God keeps other believers. We will always be part of a larger family of God. And it is all by the grace of God. Nothing that we do changes it, it's a grace thing. :)

But read what else Paul has to say in this chapter.

God doesn't keep everyone. Look at Israel. Not all of Israel are his elect. God kept his elect, the rest he hardened. He let them be lost to
a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day."

So what then? We also have Gentile believers (that would be me!). Why did God go beyond the Jewish people in offering salvation?

Read what Paul says:
11So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

As Gentiles we are included as God's children, we are part of the elect! Why (and I know this isn't the sole reason), but one reason is to make the Israelites (the Jewish folks) jealous. Jealous so that they would seek after God, jealous because what they thought was their's alone (by birthright) was being offered to others who didn't share that birthright.

God wants his people to be HIS people. He wants them zealous for him.

Now, this does not mean that as Gentile believers we need to be proud that God has turned to us. By no means. We have been grafted on to the body of Jewish believers. They have their roots deep in God, and we share in the strength of those roots. We are graftees, fully part of the tree, but we need to be aware that as graftees, that means that some branches had to be removed to make room for us. It is humbling to think such thoughts.

To know that some had be removed to make room for us.
To know that our strength as believers comes from Jewish roots.

I'm probably not saying this all right, so I'll let Paul speak for himself (well, for God).

3Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in." 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
What happened with the Jewish folks is a warning. We must stay true to God. Just as God broke off the branches of the Jewish folks who turned from him, whose hearts he hardened after their own sin-filled ways, so he can do the same to us.

22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Through us, as Gentile believers, will the Jewish people be saved.
25Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
I must admit, it all seems rather complicated. God loves the Jewish people. He really does. He brings us in to his fold so that some of them can be reached. But he let them be disobedient so that he could bring us in. Read for yourself how Paul puts it:

28As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

I have to say with Paul

33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34"For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?"
35"Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?"

36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

God's ways are just TOO much for me sometimes. it just blows my mind sometimes when I see and learn the hows and whys of his actions. Don't you just love it? :) Love HIM!

1 comment:

MInTheGap said...

It's great to know that God is there and that He is using that Almighty power to protect His people. Thanks for this encouragement!