Sermon on Romans 11:13-15, 28-32
Text: I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
There are several words that we, as Christians, have given special meaning to. For example, there is the word “Savior.” The basic meaning of the word refers to someone who saved another. A person who rescues another person from a burning building would be that person’s savior. When we hear the word “savior,” our minds automatically think of the fact that Jesus has rescued us from the punishment that we deserved because of our sins. Another such word is “grace.” Again, the word means to show mercy or kindness to someone who did not deserve it. A teacher may announce a grace period of time for the students that didn’t get their homework in. They deserve the failing grade, but the teacher has chosen to show them mercy. When the Christian hears the word “grace,” they think of God’s undeserved love and mercy. The apostle Paul highlights the AMAZING GRACE of God in our text for this morning. We note that it 1. Provokes In Order To Save and that it 2. Bankrupts In Order To Make Rich.
To help us understand what Paul is speaking of in our text, we need to look at the larger context in which we find these verses. Paul was writing to the Christians in the congregation in Rome. While there were some Jews in the congregation, a majority of the congregation was comprised of Gentiles. In chapters 9-11 of the book of Romans, Paul is bemoaning the fact that so many of his fellow Jews had rejected the gospel. He speaks of the anguish of his heart when he thinks about this fact. He, also, reminds the Gentiles that it wasn’t because of anything special in them that they were saved. Rather, it was the grace of God that had grafted them into the vine of Jesus Christ.
In this particular section, Paul addresses the Gentile element in the congregation. We read in verses 13-15, “I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” When the Lord Called Paul to be an apostle, he was told that his main area of work would be among the Gentiles. We see this being carried out in Paul’s missionary journeys. We note that God blessed his ministry among the Gentiles as many were brought to faith. We, also, see that, time and again, many of the Jews in the place rejected the gospel that Paul was proclaiming. Paul said that he took pride in his ministry to the Gentiles. He used the opportunities that God placed in front of him to proclaim the gospel. He worked with the strength that God had given him.
Paul also speaks of the hope that he had as the gospel did its work in the hearts of the Gentiles: “In the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” (Verse 14) Paul’s hope was that, as the Jews saw how richly God blessed their Gentile neighbors with the gospel blessings, they would become envious. They would see the power of the gospel as it converted the hearts of the Gentiles. The hope is that the blessings that they saw would cause them to rethink their rejection of the gospel. They would, through the working of the Holy Spirit, believe the very gospel that they had rejected.
Paul concludes this section by writing, “For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Verse 15) He points out that there are no losers here. The rejection of the majority of Jews because of unbelief meant that the gospel of reconciliation had gone out into the Gentile world. If such a blessing should be brought about by their rejection, what should be expected if the Jews should be received back into the kingdom? The answer is “life from the dead.” Paul pictures the blessing of the reacceptance of the Jews as being so glorious and so unexpected as proof of God’s mercy to sinners that only the thought pf a complete change of situation can adequately describe it. It would be like rising from a certain and horrible death to life and safety. Paul wanted to do everything possible so that, through the gospel message, as many as possible would be brought to faith and spend their eternity with Jesus.
Here we have a good reminder to let the joy of the grace of God that has been shown to be evident in our lives. One of the areas might be as we are in contact with someone who has wandered from the faith. It’s tempting to ignore them. After all, they pulled away from us, not us from them. However, as they see the joy that fills our hearts, it is our prayer that they might be reminded of what they are missing. They are missing the joy and peace that comes from knowing that Jesus is their Savior, both for this life and for all eternity. The Holy Spirit might use that opportunity to reach out to them and bring them back home.
It’s also a good reminder to fan the flame of flame that is burning in our hearts. If you have ever had the opportunity to get to know someone who has recently been brought to faith, you can tell how excited they are to know about their salvation. They want to know more. They want to live a life that gives thanks to God for this knowledge. They look for ways to serve. It can be a stark contrast to someone who has been a believer since infancy. The truths of God’s Word can become so common that they don’t thrill as much as they once did. Being in God’s Word becomes less important. Being involved in congregational life becomes a chore and something to be avoided, if possible. Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus came to the world to be our Savior. We have been rescued from an eternity of punishment and have an eternity of being in God’s presence forever. May God help us to fan into flame the faith that he has created in our hearts.
Lest the Gentiles think that there was something special about them that they were chosen while their Jewish neighbors were lost, Paul writes, “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Verses 28&29) Paul notes that many of the Jews had become enemies of the gospel and, as an offshoot, the enemies of those who were brought to faith. This is evident in the persecutions that the early church endured. How many times wasn’t Paul, himself, mistreated at the hands of his countrymen?
Yet, this didn’t mean that God had completely written off the Jewish nation. “As far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Verses 28&29) God had not completely cut off his chosen people or gone back on the promises that he made as early as to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God still had in mind that many of them should be brought to faith, as well. His call of grace extends to many and is consistent with what we learn in 1 Timothy 2:3&4, “God our Savior . . . who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Lest the Gentiles think that they were somehow better that their Jewish counterparts, Paul writes, “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.” (Verses 30&31) Paul reminds them that they were also disobedient at one time. They were just as condemned as those Jews who were presently rejecting the gospel. Yet, God chose to show them mercy and, when these Jews were brought to faith he would have mercy on them, as well. “For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Verse 32) This is the law and the gospel at work. The law binds to disobedience. It condemns because there had been the failure to keep the law perfectly. However, in his great mercy, as we hear about it in the gospel, he sent his Son to rescue fallen mankind.
This is the message that has been shared with us, as well. In God’s Word, we find the stern words of the law, which condemn us. As we read them, we can see how time after time, we have failed to do what God demanded that we do. In our words, in our actions, in our thoughts, and in our attitudes, we have sinned against God. We have been disobedient and deserve the punishment of eternal exile in hell. However, the mercy of God has also been shown to us. Through the pages of Scriptures, we see hos God loved us so much that he sent his Son into the world to be our Savior. Where we had disobeyed God, Jesus, acting on our behalf, never did. Because God is a just God and said that sin must be paid for, Jesus went to the cross to pay for those sins. In Jesus, God’s justice is met. In Jesus, God’s mercy is seen. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we are right with God. We thank him for the mercy that he has shown to us.
This also changes the way that we look at other people. Our sinful nature likes to look at other people and find their faults. It highlights their sins and leads us to think that we are so much better than they are. We would never do such a thing. We would never talk like that. However, when we remind ourselves that we have been saved from our sins by the grace of God, then, we can look at that individual as God looks at them. This is a person whom Jesus also came to save. He shed his blood on the cross for them just as much as he did for me. They need to hear what Jesus has done for them. May God open our hearts to remember that, though they are disobedient, so was I. God wants to have mercy on them, just as he did for me. May God help us to put our faith into action and share this wonderful news with those that come into our lives.
It is no wonder that we hold the word “grace” so near and dear to our hearts. In that word, we are reminded of how dear we are to our God. He loved us before the world was created. He wanted us to be with him forever in heaven. When sin made it impossible for us to accomplish this, God loved us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own Son to rescue us. He loved us so much that he saw to it that we were brought to faith, so that we would receive all that he has to give us. We, also, know that this grace is not just meant for us. God’s grace covers the entire world. It is our prayer that more and more people hear of the grace of God and are brought to faith. We also pray that, when given the opportunity, we may be messengers of God’s grace. Amen.
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