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Part Two

An Expository Study of Romans

Chapters 9 through 14

INTRODUCTION:

Christianity Through the Epistles of Paul

The apostle Paul, called and trained by Jesus Christ as apostle to the Gentiles, was the very one responsible for the spreading of Christianity to the world outside Judaism. What started out in the eyes of the Rabbis as an offshoot sect of Judaism, the sect of the Nazarenes, ended up as a major world religion—-Christianity.

The apostle Paul, under the inspiration of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, was almost solely responsible for this mushroom type growth in Christianity through his teaching, both verbal and his letters. Without those precious letters we would know very little or nothing of this man’s greatness as a Christian leader and teacher. Countless Christian revivals down through the centuries owe their very existence and success to the epistles of Paul, which had their beginnings in people being transformed –spiritually set afire—by the Holy Spirit as a direct result of reading Paul’s epistles, particularly the book of Romans. Do you wish to be spiritually transformed, enlivened? Do you wish to transform your congregation—making your membership become spiritually alive—vibrant, radiant Christians? Then read this series of expository studies about the apostle Paul’s letters, and then apply them, to yourself, and to your congregation. Then watch the growth!

Chapters 9,10 & 11:

The Perplexities of The Gospel,

What About Israel? Why Are Some
People Saved and Some Are Not?

ROMANS 9

Romans 9:1-5. "I speak the truth in Christ--I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit--I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

Abraham took the very same unselfish attitude toward Lot and also the sinful inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was not concerned for himself but for others who were less deserving. Genesis 13:5-12. "Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. So Abram said to Lot, 'Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left.' Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom."

Abram was content to let Lot choose, and Lot chose what appeared to be the more fertile ground, leaving Abram with the rough hill country of Canaan. In Genesis 14 Abram risks life and limb to rescue Lot and all his possessions by taking on an invading Assyrian army at night. In Genesis 18 Abram actually argued with the Lord in an attempt to save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction. Do you ever get tired of serving those who don't return your love? Moses did. But what was Moses overall attitude toward those who constantly resisted his leadership under the Lord? In Exodus 32 we find Moses up on the Mountain of God for forty days. The children of Israel, impatient as ever, started worshipping a golden calf and reveling in a wild orgy. Moses came back in the middle of all this, so angry that he smashed the two tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. God was angry too. But Moses pleaded for their forgiveness. Moses' plea to the Lord can be found in verses 31-32, which states, "So Moses went back to the Lord and said, 'Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin--but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."

Another one of God's servants exemplifying this unselfish attitude was Nehemiah. Nehemiah 1:1-5. "The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some men, and I questioned him about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, 'Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.' When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." Nehemiah is a cup bearer to the king [of the Persian Empire], a pretty plush job. He was willing to give all this up. His attitude can be seen in his prayer to God found in Nehemiah 1:5-11. Nehemiah interceded for others. Nehemiah 1:5-11. "Then I said: 'O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.' They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your mighty hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man [the king of the Persian Empire].' I was cupbearer to the king."

Paul's life was one long journey, going from community to community, country to country, sharing the gospel and wonder of God's love for mankind. His attitude for the Jews who wanted him dead can be seen in Romans 9:1-5. Understand the depth of love Abram, Moses, Nehemiah and Paul had for people who were not necessarily deserving of it. Jesus died on the Cross for this evil world, not to condemn it, but to save it. All these people, Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, and all the Prophets and David, had the heart of God in them. Paul had this same heart in him. If you're tired or complacent you don't have God in your heart [the way He needs to be].

Romans 9:6-18. "It is not as if God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, 'It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' [Gen. 21:12] In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. For this was how the promise was stated: 'At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son. Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls--she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.' Just as it is written: 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.' What shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'

It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."

Vs.6: The name Israel Paul is using in verse 6 means governed by God in Hebrew. Paul is saying that not all Israel is Israel. i.e. Not all Israel is governed by God. Not everyone who is called a Christian is a Christian [Matthew 7:21-23; Mark 7:6-8].

Vs. 14: How is verse 14 unfair? How can God hate Esau. Because God knows the future. He knew Esau would live for the flesh. He has perfect foreknowledge. God's answer, verse 15, is "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy."

Vs. 16-18: The first ten times Pharaoh hardened his own heart by the way the Hebrew reads in Exodus. Then the eleventh time the Hebrew translation indicates that God set and made permanent that hardening.

Romans 9:19-29. "One of you will say to me: 'Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will? [sort of a Calvinist approach in this question, isn't it? i.e. It's all cut in stone anyway, so why try. Paul's answer to this logic follows] But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? 'Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory--even us, who he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," and "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality [Isaiah 10:22-23]." It is just as Isaiah said previously: "Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have been like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. [Isaiah 1:9]."

The lesson here: God is very Sovereign, but is also of great love and mercy.

Romans 9:30-33. "What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they persued it not by faith but as it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." As it is written: "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame [Isaiah 8:14; 28:16]."

That was the conclusion to Romans 9. It is by faith, not works of obedience to the law without faith, that saves us. And that faith is the faith of Christ in us and not our own human faith.

ROMANS 10

Verse 1, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved." Pauls' attitude toward those who hurt him and wronged him, those of his own race is exemplified in this first verse of chapter 10. He prays for their salvation. Instead of giving in to the desire to pound them he prays for them. And he prays for their salvation. God put a huge desire in Paul's heart for his people's salvation. The desire turned into a constant prayer.

Paul understood that his witness would not be effective unless it was backed by prayer. John Bunyon said, "You can do more after you have prayed but you can not do more than pray until you have prayed." Look at the effectiveness of Paul's ministry in the conversion of whole Churches of Gentiles across the Roman empire. Prayer changes things. What we learn here is that prayer must accompany the proclamation of the gospel, for it to touch hearts. We tend to think that we can get so much more done in the flesh than we can get done in prayer. Many times we save prayer for an act of desperation, after we have done all we can--when we've gone for the first, second and third diagnosis, and the doctor says "It's in the hands of God now."

We were created for fellowship with our heavenly Father, and we can't understand how to live effectively for him, what he wants us to do--without that fellowship with him. Prayer, simply stated, "is talking to God like you would talk to a friend." Throw away your past ideas of prayer.

Many Christians believe they can work for God without having been with God in prayer. To live without waiting on the Lord is to embrace humanism and to wrap it in Christian trappings. The humanist lives as if he was God and sadly, a lot of Christians are living that way.

God wants to hear about the daily challenges you face during the day. He cares. He's interested, and as you quiet down in prayer, you start to get direction from him.

When we pray we acknowledge that we need God, and that there is an invisible war going on. Prayer keeps you aware that there is a God and that he loves you. Ordinarily the flesh recoils from prayer, so that many Christians are prayerless Christians. But we have a God that is intimately interested in our lives. He cares and cares and cares so much about us.

We should pray, "Direct me Lord, I want my service to be directed by you." Prayer is not a bummer. Prayer changes things because prayer opens doors. Look at Colosians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Paul says pray with thanksgiving. Christians are people who should cultivate thanksgiving. Pray for open doors--a door for the gospel--that it will spread. Once the door opens, we should pray that the gospel spreads quickly. II Thessalonians 3:1. "Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you." Spiritual power and victory are linked to prayer. Joshua prayed for the sun to stand still because he needed more time to achieve a military victory. He knew that prayer transcends natural laws. If Einstein or Steven Hawking were to put it in their language, prayer transcends time and space, it functions outside time & space, because God is outside time and space. He dwells in eternity, he inhabits eternity. He created the space/time continuum and has total control of it whenever he chooses. God has the ability to control everything. Spiritual victory and power are linked to prayer. Acts 4:23-31. "On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'you made heaven and earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One [Psalm 2:1-2]." Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand and heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly." God shakes things up when you pray.

Another example of the power of prayer to enable the preaching of the gospel is found in Acts 16:16-34. "Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.' She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, 'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!' At that moment the spirit left her.

When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, 'These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.'

The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them [kind of hard not to listen. A captive audience at midnight when everyone is trying to sleep!] Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. [This became the jailer's worst nightmare. This is the jailer that beat Paul and Silas. Roman law stated that if one prisoner escaped the jailer paid with his own life. This earthquake and Paul's Christianity shook up this jailer's life. Look at what took place next.] But Paul shouted, 'Don't harm yourself! We are all here!'

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'

They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household. Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God--he and his whole family."

As you can see, prayer can arrange things in a certain way so that people are boxed in, and brings them face to face with the issues of life. And it's all because someone is praying for them--just as Paul and Silas were praying for this jailer.

The effective fervent prayer of a righteous person does much. God moves heavenly armies into place in answer to some of our prayers. Elisha had been giving the movements of the king of Syria, his army and chariots, to the king of Israel, telling the king whatever God told him to. It was God passing military intelligence to the king of Israel through Elisha. The king of Syria didn't know how Elisha was finding out these things but set out to capture Elisha and stop him. This is an interesting story of the kind of power and spirit military force God surrounds us with at the beck and call of our prayers. Let's pick it up in verse 12 of II Kings 6. "And one of his servants said, 'None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words you speak in your bedroom.' So he said, 'Go and see where he is, that I may send and get him.' And it was told him, saying, 'Surely he is in Dothan.' Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' So he answered, 'Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, and said, 'Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, 'Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.' And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Now Elisha said to them, 'This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.' But he led them to Samaria [the capital of Israel where the king's army was based]. So it was, when they had come to Samaria, that Elisha said, 'Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.' And the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and there they were, inside Samaria!" (II Kings 6:12-20.)

You know, if the Church [and I dare say, the collective Church, the body of Christ] fully understood the power of prayer, nothing would be impossible for her. Listen to what Andrew Murray says, "We must begin to believe that God in the mystery of prayer has entrusted us with a force that can move the heavenly world and bring its' power down to earth." God must wonder why we pray so little. Listen to what the former missionary to India, Dr. Wesley Duall had to say about prayer. "Prayer is a form of spiritual bombing to saturate any area before God's army of witnesses begins their advance. Prayer is the barrage to drive back the demon hosts who are determined to stop the triumph of Christ. Prayer is the invincible force to break down every opposing wall and open every iron gate, and fast closed door. Prayer penetrates every curtain of darkness, crumbles every bastion of darkness. Prayer demolishes every fortress of hell. Prayer is the all-conquering invincible weapon of the army of God."

If some of you couples with problems would start praying together you'd need less counseling together. If families would pray together they would stay together. There's power in prayer. Why is it any surprise then that Satan attacks us during our prayer time? Prayer is our weapon, not talk, not meetings, not boards, not counseling...prayer is where the power is.

Again, why is it any surprise then that Satan attacks our prayer time? And he gives men especially a repulsion to prayer--men are just scared to death to pray. Why? Because Satan knows, 'the righteous fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.' 'So keep em off their knees at all costs.' 'Make em embarrassed'--that's Satan's reasoning. Because when people pray the kingdom of darkness starts shaking. Prayer is the power behind ministry. You see great churches and ministries--they're not great. But what might be great is the prayer-force behind them.

William Carrie is known as the father of modern missions and God used him in mighty ways to bring the gospel to India. [Families, by the way, kill any of their members who try to become Christians in India.] People credit Carrie with a lot--but do you know what? It wasn't Carrie, and he knew that. What a lot of people don't know is that he had a bedridden sister who prayed for him for fifty years. She was paralyzed. All she could do was lie in bed and pray. That's all she could do. It got the job done. Without prayer the Church is nothing, just sickly and dying.

Many of us get so busy for God that we don't spend any time with God anymore. But prayer's power is not limited to time or natural law. Remember what Samuel Chadwick said, "The one concern of the devil is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray."

Remember the example of Moses, Aaron and Hur on the mountain top praying for the victory of Israel over the Amalekites. There are two levels here. 1) What is happening on the Mount of Prayer, 2) determines the outcome in the valley. Why do you fail in your Christian life? Because you have ceased to pray. Pray on. [This is a word for word transcript taken from a sermon by Pastor J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church, Phoenix, Arizona.]

Romans 10:1-4, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." Many people are religiously sincere, but sincerely wrong. You can be sincerely wrong. The people in Waco Texas were sincere and they had a zeal for God, so much so that they would shoot themselves in the head and then burn themselves up. Now that's zeal for God if I've ever seen zeal, but it was wrong. They were sincere, but sincerely wrong. Now before they got that weird they were still sincere. Before they got so weird and socially unacceptable, nobody would say "they're wrong!" Everybody would say, "Oh they're sincere, leave them be." But wrong thinking will lead you to wrong living. We see people today who are religiously sincere. They go by two's, they knock on our doors and they hope to earn heaven by the hours they turn in. They hope that by what they're doing they'll be right with God, and nobody's ever been made right with God by what they do.

The first thing that enters your mind when you realize that you're not right with God is that you think, "I'll do something, I'll make God a promise, I won't do that again." God must laugh! What you do on the outside can't earn God's favor, but the first thing we think when we realize we're not right with God is "What can I do?" This goes back to Adam and Eve our original parents. After they sinned, suddenly they realized they were naked. All of a sudden they felt very naked and exposed. They did what God said was wrong. They knew it was wrong, they felt guilt, they felt shame--they felt naked before God who's Holy. Ever have "Naked" dreams where you are in front of a bunch of people and you're doing your thing, giving the business presentation?? Every preacher understands this dream because they've all had it at least once. It's a preacher's nightmare. Everyone's had it at least once, every pastor I've ever known. You're standing up here and you're in your shorts, hopefully.

Adam and Eve had this type of feeling of nakedness, so they looked around and you know they must have been in a panic--they couldn't be thinking straight--because the leaf they picked, the leaves they picked to sew together were figleaves! Those are the prickliest, scratchiest leaves on earth. And then God provided something better for them. It says in Genesis 3:21 "the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." Isaiah 61:10 says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation." God is in the business of covering up our shame and our nakedness. God is showing us how foolish it is for us to try to cover ourselves--how absolutely absurd it is for us to do something to try to get ourselves out of this mess. There is NOTHING we can do, he's got to do it for us. He provided the skins for them. He probably had to sacrifice a little animal, probably a little lamb, in order to give them covering. And so he gave us his Son, Jesus Christ, so that we might have covering.

Romans 10 is a beautiful picture of the simplicity of salvation. Do you think it's hard to be saved? If you do you've been exposed to religion--you haven't been exposed to a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you think it's hard, listen up, because I've some good news for you. Someone has said, and it is well said, "There are only two kinds of religions, one may be spelled "do", the religion of DO, "DO this, DO that, DON'T DO that, you'd better DO this." And the other religion can be spelledD-O-N-E. Christianity is a religion that is based on something that is DONE, it's not a religion based on what we have to DO. The emphasis of Christianity is not what you have to do. The sad thing is that there's people all over the country, and that's what they're getting preached to them. "DO" for God. That's not the emphasis of the Word of God, the emphasis of the Bible is what God's done for you, because God's smart, and that's an understatement. He knows that once we get a grip on what he's done for us--we'll do like crazy for him. It's true.

People don't understand that. They look out and they think, "These people need to be told what to DO!--You need to get out there and you need to hammer 'em, man. Tell 'em what to DO!" No, you need to tell them what God has DONE. Otherwise you might as well be a part of every cult or false religion that guilt trips people into everything. Christianity is not an eternal guilt trip, it's a grace trip. It is a grace experience. The gospel is not about something I do, it is about something Jesus has done.

Sincere people are sincerely wrong, verse 3 says, 'when they go about to establish their own righteousness, and not subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God--because Christ is the end of law keeping for righteousness.'

You can not be saved by doing good things. By going to church, by being baptized, by being sprinkled, by being confirmed, by taking Holy Communion, by going to the temple, or by anything else you might think of--you cannot be saved by those things. Look at Galatians 2 and listen to what the same guy, the apostle Paul, has to say on the same subject--the simplicity of salvation. Galatians 2:16, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Now look at Galatians 3:10: "For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'" Do you want to come under the law--the old covenant law of God? Then you had better DO everything the law demands.

It's funny how people will take parts of the law [old covenant law of God], put people under them, and ignore whole other parts. One of the big things we had to do was keeping the Sabbath [this minister grew up in the 7th Day Adventist Church], Saturday. Now that's in the law [of Moses]. If you keep the law you'd better keep the Sabbath--but you know, we didn't keep the Sabbath the way you're supposed to keep it. The Bible says that if you light a fire on the Sabbath you should be stoned to death. I know many Sabbaths we lit fires in the fireplace. And you can't cook, no preparation of meals on the Sabbath. "Well, that's legalism" you might say. No brother, that's Bible. That's the way the Sabbath was meant to be kept. The Bible says if you're going to be under law, you'd better do it all--because if you don't you're under a curse.

There are two ways to be saved in the Bible: 1) One is to get this righteousness you need. You need rightness with God to inherit Eternal life in the kingdom of God. But we are born wrong. We need to somehow be made right. And you've got to find this rightness you need. And one way is the Law. But the problem is that if you put yourself under law you have to do it all because the only way you can be saved is by perfectly doing the law, all of it. So if you've already messed up, you can't be saved by lawkeeping, because you have to have a perfect sinless record. [There's only one man other than Jesus Christ who came close to having a sinless record. It was Job, and by all appearances he was sinless, until God pointed out that he was self-righteous! Oops.]

2) The only other way to be saved is by faith--you get the rightness by faith. That's too easy! Yes! That's the whole thing. This is so easy that people stumble over it. People think it's hard to be a Christian. That it's hard to be saved.

Let's look at Romans 10:5, "Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: 'The man who does these things will live by them.'" In other words if you can keep the law you could live and have eternal life. But if you can't keep the law you can't be saved, if you're going to try to be saved by lawkeeping. Salvation is so simple and so close. And you know, we need to communicate that when we talk to people about Jesus. You have to let 'em know that this is simple. Salvation is so near to us all. It's not like you have to climb a ladder to get near heaven. Trying to be saved by good living is impossible. The only way to be saved is by what Jesus has done for you, and you can get into that so simply. It's so close. Verse 6-10, "But the righteousness that is by faith says: 'Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven? (that is to bring Christ down) or Who will descend into the deep? (that is to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? 'The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,' that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved [Joel 2:32]." Verse 6 says you don't have to ascend up to heaven to get Jesus to bring him down--as if somehow you have to climb to heaven to get Jesus--to gain access to him. And then again you don't have to debase yourself thinking 'I'll lay on a bed of nails. I'll walk on hot coals of fire. I'll do penance, I'll light candles, I'll give money, I'll buy a window for the Church.' No, you don't have to descend into this kind of abyss either. ('That is, to bring Christ up from the dead.') No, salvation is not a long journey you have to get on and maybe find him. But what does it say? Verse 8, 'The word is near you.' The word of salvation is so close to you he says, 'How close? 'It's in your' what? 'Mouth'--and where? 'and in your heart.' That is the word of faith that we are preaching. What does verse 9 say? "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes resulting in righteousness and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation." Salvation is so near it is in your mouth and in your heart--and if you'll just confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead--you will be saved. That is so incredible!

Ultimately, the Bible says, the whole world, everyone who has ever lived, will be forced, at the Judgment Throne of God, to confess that 'Jesus is Lord.' Philippeans 2 says 'that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.' The day is coming when you will have to confess--"Jesus is Lord." [and this fellowship teaches, "you may not want to say it at this point, but you'll be forced to say it, and then you will be sent to hell." A few other fundamentalist Christian fellowships believe that last scenario isn't so, but at this time of the Great White Throne Judgment the rest of unsaved mankind's opportunity for salvation will come to them. This study will not be delving into the secondary beliefs of any Christian group, fellowship or denomination beyond briefly mentioning what they believe in. The focus is on the primary knowledge of the gospel of Christ. Salvation in Jesus Christ and how we attain it in the here and now for us is primary knowledge of salvation. What happens to the "unsaved dead" is secondary knowledge of salvation. One group, the majority of Christians, believe the "going straight to hell" scenario, the other group believe in the "they're given their first opportunity for salvation in Christ" scenario. But as long as believers believe the primary knowledge and Jesus lives in them by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14), which Jesus does for us, we will be saved.]

Salvation by confessing belief in Jesus Christ as Lord (Messiah) is not just a matter of saying the words. It's not some magic formula that you say. It's not mouthing the words. Again, that would be a work you do. It's not going through a ceremony. It's not knowing in your head that saves you, it's believing in your heart--because when you believe in your heart something, it extends all the way through your life, doesn't it? How many of us know that we should be eating differently than we are? Be honest. But knowing those things doesn't change us, because it's not here in your heart, it's merely headknowledge. But when you get the bad news from the doctor that unless you change your diet you're going to croak--all of a sudden, it's 'buy the juicer! Get those carrots, man! We're going to take the vitamins! No fat in this diet, man! I'm going to live on rice crackers now!' But you know, until something happens to you which forces what's in your head down to your heart and you act on it, it doesn't matter what's up here in your head. Many people in this world know Christianity in their heads, but don't know it in their hearts. Jesus talked of this type of Christian in Matthew 7:21-22 which states, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" If your don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ it's all useless head knowledge. Let's look at John 5:11, "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who doesn't have the Son does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." O.K., this is like simplicity, isn't it? How do you know that you're saved? Very simple--do you have Jesus? "He who has the Son has life." Now this is a real encouragement to those who are always wondering "I'm I saved?" Salvation, again, is not what you do, salvation is based on what He (Jesus) has done for you. Do you have Him? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? If you don't, you don't have life. If you do have Jesus, you do have life. 'Are you willing to stake your whole hope for eternal life on what I've done for you?" Jesus asks. If you are, then that's real saving belief.

Verse 11, "Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame [Isa. 28:16]." The original Greek in this verse is very strong, using a double negative. More accurately rendered, it states, "Whoever believes in Him will never, no never be disappointed." You're never going to be embarrassed. Everybody else will disappoint you, but Jesus won't.

Verses 12-13, "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved [Joel 2:32]." Now the question you have to ask is "Have I called on the name of the Lord?" Have you ever called upon the name of the Lord? "We know, I thought what my parents did for me would save me (infant baptism). No, the Bible says 'If you want to be saved you have to call upon the name of the Lord.' One of the last things Jesus says to us is in the book of Revelation. Revelation 3:20. "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me." Get the picture. He's on the outside of your life, knocking on the door of your life. And he says, "If anyone will hear my voice." So he's also calling your name. "Joe, Sue, Mary, Pete, Mike, Bill, Beth, Mark, Julie, Tom, Teresa or whatever your name is--it's me, Jesus. Open up, I've got something for you. I've got life, I've got peace, I've got forgiveness of your sins here for you. Open up." Jesus is basically saying 'If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I'll come in and I'll be their friend forever.' This is incredible! But you've got to ask him into your life. You've got to open the door. He's not going to bash down the door into your life to give you salvation. It's your choice. Have you called upon the name of the Lord? Have you ever asked Jesus to come into your life and save you from your sins? If you haven't, you're not saved.

It says, "calls on the name of the Lord." If you've done something else besides calling, I don't know, you're on thin ice. When he says 'calling on God,' he means asking God to come in because God is a gentleman, the Lord Jesus is a gentleman, he won't break down the door. He respects your will. You can invite him into your life.

And you know, when you come to Jesus Christ, things change. What a wonderful transformation takes place. Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. You can thank God for one word, "Whoever." Your sins will all be forgiven. That is why he died on the cross. God put all your ugliness, all your sins and all the wrong things you've done on Jesus. He was punished and died the way you should be punished and die, but God didn't want to punish you. Jesus wanted to take your place. He's bought the whole world and everyone in it with his blood (John 3:16). That's what the cross is all about, and he was buried and he rose again and your sins were forgiven. And he purchased eternal life for you and he's waiting for you to receive it.

How do you call on the name of the Lord? We should pray something like this aloud to Jesus. "Lord Jesus I know I need you. I've been wrong Lord. Please forgive me of my sins. Please come into my life, and give me a new beginning. I believe that you died for me, and that you rose again from the dead. I'm calling on you right now Jesus. Please save me. And I believe that you accept me, just like I am. Come into my life now and change me I pray. In Jesus name, Amen."

Now Paul put a plug in for those that bring the gospel, for people cannot call on the name of the Lord if no one brings them the gospel--the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Romans 10:14-15. "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! [Isa. 52:7]'"

Paul goes on to raise another question, which gets us into the subject matter of Romans 11. Romans 10:16-21. "But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our message? [Isa. 53:1]' Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: 'Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. [Psalm 19:4]' Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, 'I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding. [Deut. 32:21]' And Isaiah boldly says, 'I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me. [Isa.65:1]' But concerning Israel he says, 'All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. [Isa. 65:2]'

Romans 11

Romans 11:1-10. "I ask then: did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah--how he appealed to God against Israel: 'Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me' [I Kings 19:10,14]? And what was God's answer to him? 'I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. [I Kings 19:18]' So, too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. and if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day [Deut. 29:10].' And David says: 'May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever [Psalm 69:22-23].'"

So has God rejected the nation of Israel and cast her aside because of her rejection of him? Does Israel still have a right to the promises he gave her thousands of years ago? Is the Christian Church now Israel? Does God have a future plan for the nation of Israel? The answers to these questions are given to us in Romans chapter eleven.

Let's look at Romans 11:1. "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin." Now this would be a perfect place to say, 'All right dear Romans, I want you to know that God has rejected Israel, the nation of Israel is cast off and the Church is now Israel.' Why doesn't he say that? Instead he says in the clearest possible ways, "God has not rejected Israel." "No way, may it never be." One of the strongest ways the Greeks could express a negative was to use a double negative, which they do here in this sentence, which is translated "No way, may it never be." And then he says, "If God is through with Israel then I couldn't be saved because he said I really am an Israelite, of the tribe of Benjamin, and yet God saved me so God must not be done with the nation of Israel. They're not under a curse, they're still God's people or I couldn't be saved.' He also said in verse 2, just to emphasize it, "God has not rejected his people, whom he foreknew." Look at verse 11, "Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious."

Look at verse 28, 'From the standpoint of the gospel they are your enemies. They fought you.' Read the book of Acts. They fought the apostle Paul every step of the way. But from the standpoint of God's choice they are what? "Beloved for the sake of the fathers." Why? "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Did he call them his people? Yes. That's irrevocable.

You mean you're telling me that after all they have done, rejecting the Lord, crucifying Christ--God is going to have something to do with them? Let's go back a step. Who crucified Christ? You know Jews for centuries have been called Christ-killers by Christians, ignorant Christians. Who crucified Christ? The Romans did. Well if you're going to call anybody Christ-killers, call Italians Christ-killers, right? The Jews didn't crucify him. They did say, "Let him be crucified." But it was the Gentiles who had a part in crucifying Christ. So you can't call them Christ-killers unless you want to be called a Christ-killer also. So they have rejected the Lord, yes. So they have fought the gospel, yes. So they blasphemed the name of our blessed Lord, Jesus Christ, yes. But does that mean that God would cast them off? NO! Why? Because to begin with this whole deal God made with Abraham was not based on how Abraham would perform. It was based upon how well God would perform his promises.

If you go back to Genesis 15 you'll see the incident there. This is where the Israelites started. God came to Abraham, and said, "Hay Abe, I'm going to make out of you a mighty nation." He told him that in Genesis 12. By chapter 15 Abraham still didn't have any children. He was wondering, 'Well God said my descendants would be like the sand of the sea and the stars of the heaven--they'd be innumerable. And I don't even have one son yet. I mean, shouldn't we just have one to get this thing going, Lord? There's a lot of stars out there. There's a lot of grains of sand to catch up with.' He said, 'It looks to me Lord like the only heir I have is my slave, my good buddy and slave Eliazer of Damascus. Is he going to inherit everything?' 'I made you a promise, I'll fulfill my end of the deal.' 'So Abraham believed God, and it was counted towards him as righteousness.' We're told in verse 6 that God said, 'Let's finalize this agreement, that I will make of you a great nation, I will give you the promised land, and the Messiah will come through you and save the world and of his kingdom and rule there shall be no end. So let's seal the agreement.'

And in these days they didn't sign on the dotted line. They had a very risky business they performed. They would take a couple of animals, sacrifice the animals, cutting them in two. They would lay the animals out and make a path out of the animals. They'd cut a cow in two, push it apart, make a pathway, cut a goat in two and make the pathway a little longer, take other animals and they would have this pathway of butchered animals literally cut it two. Then the two partners in the agreement would walk back-to-back. They would walk through one way with one of the partners saying "I agree to abide by this covenant and I agree to do my part, this, this, this and this." And they'd walk back the other way and the other partner would say it. "I agree to do my part which is this, this, this, and this." and then they would both say, "and if I do not do my part, you may cut me in two, just like we've cut these animals in two." Well, needless to say there weren't many of those agreements made, right? You were serious when you signed on the dotted line, because it meant you could be torn in two. And so God proceeds to make this agreement with Abram. Verse 9, "So he said to him, 'bring me a three year old heifer and a three year old female goat and a three year old ram, and a turtle dove and a young pigeon.' And he brought all these and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other." He didn't cut the birds" (Well, you know you cut a bird in two and all you get is feathers everywhere). "And the birds of pray came down on the carcasses and Abraham drove them away." Now verse 12, significant, "When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram. And behold a terror and a great darkness fell upon him. And God said [while he was in this deep God-induced sleep], 'Abram, your descendants are going to be many for number, go and become slaves in a foreign land. But after 400 years I will bring them out of that land and put them back in the promised land. And they will remove all the inhabitants of the promised land, and I will give them that land forever." And that's what God said. Verse 17, "And when it came about, when the sun had set that it was very dark, behold there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch [shades of Revelation 5] which passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, 'To your descendants, to your seed I have given this land, from the Nile River to as far as the Great River the River Euphrates." He also said, 'I've also given you all the inhabitants of the land and you can kick them out.' So God made this agreement with Abram. And remember what I told you about this type of agreement, that both parties were supposed to go through the cut in two animals, both parties were supposed to state their part of the agreement, and then upon penalty of being torn in two if they broke their end of the agreement?

God goes through, the smoking flaming torch representing the Lord. God is saying, 'If I don't do what I have said, you can tear me in two.' But where's Abram? Abram's flat on his back, incapacitated by this sleep that God put upon him. Why? Why isn't Abraham walking through there? Why isn't Abraham doing his part!? God is saying, 'Abe, I don't want you walking through there because I know you couldn't do your part. I know you'd bring a curse upon yourself. Abraham, everything that I'm promising I will do based upon My faithfulness, not yours.' And that's the beginning of the story of the Israelites. And because of this promise God is also promising to the Israelites, 'I will do for them what I've promised based upon my faithfulness and not theirs.' And that's the Abrahamic covenant. That's the promise to Abraham. It's called the everlasting covenant in the Scripture.

And so if you say, "Well, how can God still have Israel as his chosen nation after they have rejected him?' Well you have to know this promise wasn't based upon their works anyway. If you go back to Romans 11:2 "He says, 'God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God about Israel." And this is what Elijah said, "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me [I Kings 19:10,14]." And actually Elijah was complaining, saying, 'Lord, I thought there always was supposed to be faithful people in the nation of Israel?' But what is the Divine response to him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand people who have not bowed a knee to Baal." "In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice. But if it is by grace"--if God's choice of Israel is by grace--"then it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:4-6)."

God chose Israel not because they were a great people, not because they were the best looking people, not because they were the holiest people, or the most numerous people. He chose them because he wanted to give somebody something they didn't deserve. And he looked around for an undeserving people and he saw Abram, and he said, 'Abram, I'm going to give you what you don't deserve. I'm going to do this, this, this and this for you.' It was by grace. Now you have been saved in the same way, by grace.

The formula for our salvation is not grace, plus works equals salvation. Now that is what a lot of religions teach. That's what a lot of cults teach. In fact I guarantee you every cult teaches that. The Bible doesn't give the equation that way at all. The Bible says grace plus nothing equals salvation. But some will say, "But wait a minute, you've got to have faith." But don't you remember that even saving faith is not from you, it's the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you are saved in faith, and that faith not of yourself, it's a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." You can put faith in the equation if you want, but it's part of grace. So say grace plus faith equals salvation. That's great. But faith is no big work you do, it's just believing and trusting in God. [And that comes as a fruit of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.]

Now because grace means getting what you don't deserve, (unmerited favor is what grace means) it makes no sense at all to say, "We're saved by grace plus something that we do." If grace means you don't deserve it in the first place, then how can you do something to deserve it? The point is, if you're going to be saved by grace, then you're going to have to be saved by grace alone. If you're going to be saved by works, you have to be saved by works alone. You can't mix the two, they're like oil and vinegar. They do not mix, there's a separation there.

How are you trying to obtain eternal life? By works or by grace? I hope it's by grace. A lot of people have the idea that our life is like this: "Jesus died on the cross, and on the cross he made a tremendous down payment on our eternal future, our eternal home, and now if we will just accept this deal, man, the down payment has been made, no cash down to mortgage. Just come as you are. All you have to do is sign on the dotted line and guarantee you'll make the payment every month. And it's low interest, too.' And that's the view a lot of people have of how to be saved. Jesus paid the down payment, and now it's just up to me to pay God's easy payments. The only problem is, what if you get behind a payment or two? Well that's when you come to Church and they start talking to you and say 'All right, you're going to lose this house, God's going to foreclose on you, unless you catch up on your payments. Unless you do what you're supposed to do God will close the books on you. You're going to be out of here! Pay God what you own him!" That's not the gospel, that's not the Good News of Christianity. The Good News of Christianity is this: "Jesus paid it all, he paid everything on the cross, he bought the whole house! No hidden costs, he paid for it all! And it's free and it's a gift and it's yours for the believing, the accepting, for the receiving." Isn't that good news?! So it's got to be grace. If it's grace plus works it's no longer grace.

So God has promised the land of Israel to Israel forever. There will always be a nation of Israel. You may say, "Yes, but look at what they've done, they've rejected Jesus, they've wandered from him, they've put him down. I just can't believe he has any room in his heart for them." But you've got to understand, God knew they were going to reject Messiah when he chose them. This is no surprise to God. Right here in Romans 11:8-9 he quotes the prophet that says God would give them "a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear to this very day." He quoted David's prophecy "that their table would become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution to them." Read Isaiah 53. God predicted that his nation, his chosen nation Israel would reject the Messiah, would despise the Messiah, would pierce him through, would put him to death and that he would rise again from the dead. That was all predicted. This didn't catch God by surprise.

The stoning of Steven didn't change God's mind about Israel. Why in Deuteronomy chapters 4 and 28 the Lord predicts that his people would be cast out of the land because of their idolatry and the abominations that they would commit. He saw that. Nothing takes God by surprise. He sees the future as well as you see the present, better than you see the present. In spite of all this God will not forsake the nation of Israel. Yes, presently Israel is being disciplined by God. God said that he would scatter his people over the entire face of the earth, that they would go into all the different nations of the world. But he said, in the last days he would bring them back into their land. And it says he would bring them back into their land in their own unbelief.

Why should we care about what happens to Israel? Well, if God says adios to Israel, we have no hope. If God permanently casts off and spits out Israel, then what keeps God from spitting you out of his mouth? Because if God doesn't keep his promise to Israel, how can you trust God to keep his promise to you? You can't, can you? If he breaks one promise, he's going to break them all. God's integrity, God's faithfulness, and your ability to trust in him is all based on what we're studying right now.

Let's go to Jeremiah 30-33. This is all talking about a good word which the Lord is speaking to Israel about what he is going to do for them in the last days. He's saying, "I know you're in captivity now in Babylon"--that's the context. But he goes on to say, 'I'm going to bring you out of captivity, and then he jumps forward into what he’s going to do in the last days. And it's very clear that much of what he's saying here is not talking about the years right after the Babylonian captivity, he is talking about the years yet in the future.

Jeremiah 30:1-9. "The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 'Thus speaks the Lord God of Israel, saying, 'Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. 'For behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah [the ten tribes of Israel were deported out of Palestine in 721-718 B.C. by the Assyrian Empire, and foreigners were moved into Samaria in their place. The kingdom of Judah lived just south of Samaria with Jerusalem as their capital. The Babylonians carried them away a little over 100 years later from 604 to 585 B.C.],' says the Lord. 'And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.'

Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah. 'For thus says the Lord: 'We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor? And all faces are pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the Lord of hosts, 'that I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God. And David their king, whom I will raise up for them." This is describing the tribulation time, the last three and a half years before the Millennium begins, the time of Jacob's trouble, the time of Jacob's distress. This is obviously about the future because God is saying, "I will resurrect David and put him on the throne and he will reign during the Millennium. So God says, before the end of time I will bring back my people Israel into their land.

Let's look at Jeremiah 31:35. "Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinance of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its' waves roar (the Lord of hosts is his name): If those ordinances depart from before me ["if this fixed order departs from before me" another translation has it]," that is, if the sun would stop coming up and the moon go off its course and there would be no longer any tides, "then the seed [offspring] of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before me forever.

God is saying, "I made a promise to Israel and I'm going to keep my word, because I'm God and I don't lie. I do not lie." Numbers 23:19. "God is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent. Has he said and will he not do it? Has he spoken and will not make it good?" I Samuel 15:29 says, "Also the glory of Israel will not lie or change his mind, for he is not a man that he should change his mind." So God is not going to change his promise that he made to Israel. He promised to keep them a nation forever. He's going to do it. He says, 'For all they've done, I'll still keep them a people before me, my people forever.' Jeremiah 32:37. "Behold I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in my anger, in my fury, and in my great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely." This is talking about the last days. "They shall be my people and I will be their God: Then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever for the good of them and their children after them."

Let's also look at Jeremiah 33:19-26. Again the Lord is declaring he is going to keep the nation of Israel before him forever. He will never reject the nation of Israel. They are his chosen nation. "And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 'Thus says the Lord: 'If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, then my covenant may also be broken with David my servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers." [And his descendant right now is on the throne, his name is Jesus, the son of David, and he's going to reign forever.] "As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister to me. [So even the Levitical priesthood will serve the Lord again, under the priesthood of Melchizedek, obviously. Have you ever wondered about that 1000 year period spoken of as the Millennium. The Old Testament prophecies are loaded with beautiful prophecies about that time of peace and prosperity for all, under the gentle rulership of the Messiah, Jesus.] Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 'Have you not considered what these people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the Lord has chosen [the House of Israel and the House of Judah], he has also cast them off? [Even way back then during the Babylonian captivity, people were saying that Israel and Judah had been permanently cast off by God, permanently rejected. God is now about to take issue with these false rumors being spoken by non-Israelites, Gentiles.] Thus they have despised my people, as if they should no more be a nation before them. Thus says the Lord: 'If my covenant is not with the day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth, then I will cast away the descendants of Jacob [Israel] and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his descendants to be rulers over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will cause their captives to return, and will have mercy on them.'"

So I guess it's pretty clear from the Word of God from the New Testament in Romans 11 to the Old Testament in Jeremiah that God has not rejected his people. As Romans 11 says, "Has God rejected his people? May it never be! NO way! Did they stumble so as to fall? No, may it never be. Oh, they are enemies of the gospel now, but for the sake of the fathers [patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] they are beloved of God."

The Church is not Israel, the Church is the Church. The Church is the distinct bride of Christ.

So what are the implications of all this? First of all, if God does away with Israel, what makes you think he won't do away with the Church some day? If God just makes promises and then brakes them because we aren't good enough, well then we're in trouble. I mean it would be one thing if the promise was based on our obedience, but the promise to Abraham, Abraham slept through. It was not based on anything he did. It was based on God's faithfulness. So if you say that God is through with Israel, then you are basing your belief in God's unfaithfulness. God is not done with Israel. [Judah, one of the tribes of Israel, is occupying the promised land right now!] And there is more to come in regards to the nation of Israel in the future. We serve a covenant-keeping God (Psalm 11:4-5). [pp. 12-26, Word for word transcript, Pastor J. Mark Martin, Calvary Community Church, Phoenix, Arizona.]

Romans 11:7-32. "What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day [Deut. 29:4; Isa. 29:10].' And David says: 'May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever [Psalm 69:22-23].'

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, 'Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.' Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. [How? All these Israelites whom Paul was writing about died in their unbelief. These verses have confounded and mystified many Christian fellowships for centuries--but not others.] After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

All Israel Will Be Saved

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited [the other time Paul uses this phrase is to describe a major resurrection from the dead]: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant when I take away their sins [Isa. 59:20-21; Jer. 31:33-34].'

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. 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. For God has bound ALL MEN over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on THEM ALL."

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