Pauls Footsteps #367

“Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well…” Romans 11:9 NLT 

 Footsteps #367. In Romans 11:8-10, Paul quotes from the OT, (Deut.29:4, Isa.29:10 and Ps.69:22-23) which the Jews accepted as authoritative. The passages that Paul cites represent God as giving to Israel a spirit of slumber, preventing their seeing and hearing. Does God blind people’s eyes to prevent them from seeing light that would lead them to salvation? Never! These passages must be understood in the light of our explanation of Rom.9. Paul is not talking of individual salvation, for God rejects no one group en masse for salvation. The issue here, as it has been all along, deals with the role that these people play in His work.  

In Rom.11:11-12 Paul pictures a chain of blessings with three links: (1) because of Israel’s stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles; (2) the salvation of the Gentiles would, hopefully, make Israel envious or jealous; (3) if that jealousy led the Jews to accept the gospel, their inclusion would mean an even greater blessing to the world than if the Gentiles alone had accepted it. In vs11-15 Paul holds out a great hope for his people. He envisions a full reception that was still to happen. His hope is that the ‘casting away’ was only temporary. 


Vs16-24 likens the faithful remnant in Israel to a noble olive tree, some of whose branches have been broken off (the unbelieving ones) – an illustration he uses to prove that “God has not cast away his people” (v2). The root and trunk are still there. Into this tree the believing Gentiles have been grafted. But they are drawing their sap and vitality from the root and trunk, which represent believing Israel. In the 21st century we need to move beyond the terms Jew and Gentile in order to understand that salvation is open to all groups of people on the earth. This includes Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, terrorists, drug addicts, homeless people, wealthy people, people of every colour shade. The word ‘gentile’ in Greek means ‘nations’, meaning all nations that are not Israel. The last warning message to the world goes to “Every nation, kindred, language and people.” (Rev 14:6). That means even ethnic groups within countries! 

What happened to those who rejected Jesus, could happen also to the believing ‘Gentiles’. The Bible teaches no doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Just as salvation is freely offered, it freely can be rejected. However, we have to be careful of thinking that every time we fall or make a mistake we are out of salvation, or that we aren’t saved unless we are perfect!  Salvation is a relationship for which forgiveness is a major factor. We need to avoid the opposite ditch as well – the idea that once God’s grace covers us, there is nothing we can do, no choices we can make, that will take the provision of salvation away from us. In the end, only those who “continue in his goodness” will not be “cut off” (Rom. 11:22)

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