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Friday, July 19, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 69

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

The Experience of Merciful Purpose in Reception

Hath God Cast Off His People? (two)

But that is not enough, Paul shows some evidence that God has not cast off His people. First he takes his own case. Was Paul cast off? He certainly was not! He was enjoying the promises of God. Paul used his own case to show the Jew that God has not cast off the Jew entirely. Second Paul points to God's foreknowledge. Christians rejoice in the fact that "whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate ... whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified." If God's foreknowledge of us as individuals cannot fail, neither can it fail when it comes to this nation of Israel which He foreknew in ages past. So it is a fact that His foreknowledge does not allow Him to cast them off; they may be set aside, but He will bring them back.

Then he goes for an illustration to the Old Testament - Elijah. In may respects the positions of Paul and Elijah were very similar. You have all read the story of Elijah - how he ran for his life and ended up under a juniper tree, and said, "It is enough; now O Lord, take away my life" (1 Kings 19:4). Paul might have said that, too, but he didn't. The condition that existed under Elijah existed in Paul's time too, but Elijah pleaded with God against Israel. "Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life." It was not true. Elijah thought it was true, but here God replied with the truth of the situation: "I have left for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." God had reserved these seven thousand for himself, and they had responded by refusing to worship Baal. There is the divine and the human side. They always go together. God chooses men for the purpose of holiness. At the time when Paul was writing to Rome, there probably were more than seven thousand Jews in the church. If the  existence of a remnant back in Elijah's day showed that God had not cast off Israel, surely the presence of all those Jewish believers in the church indicated that He has not cast off His people.

In verse 5, with the use of the phrase "even so", Paul makes the application to Israel. "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
They did not deserve to be saved, but it was grace that saved them! This next verse does not really belong in the argument, but Paul could never lose an opportunity to hammer in the truth of grace. The very fact that this election of Israel, which existed in that present time, was of grace, ought to give hope to the rest of Israel, because if God, who is a sovereign God, can show grace where it is not merited, He can do it to a whole nation.

He sums it up in the seventh verse. Israel did not obtain what it was seeking. What was Israel seeking for? Righteousness. The tenth chapter says they were ignorant of God's righteousness while seeking to establish their own and so did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God. It was their own fault, because they sought it by works and not by faith.

Israel, as a nation, did not obtain this, but the election obtained it, and the rest were "blinded" judicially.The retribution of God fell upon a people who first closed their eyes. If a man says, "I will not," there may come a time when he will say, "I cannot."

So the rest were hardened, "according as it was written." Paul refers to their own Scriptures to show that what he is saying is true. "God gave them the spirit of stupor." Then he moves to Psalm 69, one in which the Jews rejoiced. They placed great confidence in this psalm. Verse 26 depicts the Lord Jesus Christ speaking at the Cross. "They persecute Him whom Thou hast smitten." The retribution that God poured out upon them, according to this psalm, was their own fault.

Paul has asked the question first of all, "Hath God cast off His people?" and he shows in answer that there is in Israel a saved election, and that the rest of the nation has been hardened and blinded, not because of any arbitrary decree on God's part, but because of the response in their own hearts. When He sent His Son, they crucified Him.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 70 - "There Will Be A Future Reception")

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