0232 The Personal Conversion of Israel
Encounter Radio Outline #0232
Air date: 8/11/02
God’s Sovereignty in Relation to the Conversion of Israel:
The Personal Conversion of Israel
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
Introduction: This chapter is the climax to Paul’s fascinating and illuminating exposition of God’s righteousness in relation to sovereignty. We have seen God’s sovereignty in relation to the election of Israel (Chapter 9), God’s sovereignty in relation to the rejection of Israel (Chapter 10), but now in Chapter 11 we have God’s sovereignty in relation to the conversion of Israel.
In the verses before us, Paul rejects with horror the thought that God has finally abandoned, or cast off, His people Israel. To show that the Jews still have a future Paul bids us consider how God, in His sovereign grace, effects the personal (#0232) and national (#0233)conversion of Israel.
I. The Personal Conversion of Israel (v. 1)
In Paul’s day the issue of whether God had turned His back on His people was mainly raised by the Jews who had witnessed the progress of the gospel among the Gentiles. They were concerned to know whether this meant that God had permanently and completely cast off Israel in favor of the Gentiles. The apostle’s negative retort is deliberate and assured (vv. 1-2). He gives us three reasons for his assurance:
A. The Personal Conversion of Israel is Specifically Illustrated (v. 1)
Had the Jews been completely and permanently cast away as a result of their rejection of the Messiah (which is what the question implies), then none could have been saved – including the apostle Himself. His conversion was not only exceptional, but it was also exemplary. Without doubt, the revelation of Jesus Christ to Saul of Tarsus is a type of the future appearing of our Lord for the turning away of unbelief from the nation of Israel in a coming day (1 Tim. 1:16). Paul implies by reason of his own conversion that God has not cast away His people. His own saving vision of Christ was the earnest of what would yet happen among His own people.
B. The Personal Conversion of Israel is Historically Demonstrated (vv. 2-4)
Since the calling out of Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, there has never been a time when some of God’s chosen people were not faithful to Him. To assert that God has cast away His people is to question His foreknowledge! And even though there have been dark periods in the history of the nation, as in the case of Elijah’s day, God has always had a godly remnant within the nation.
C. The Personal Conversion of Israel is Numerically Estimated (v. 5)
Without doubt, the apostle had in mind the multitude of Jews who became Christians at Pentecost, and those since that historic event (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14, etc.). Indeed, the remnant today is part of the church of Christ. Without these sons of Abraham, there could be no complete church in Christ (see Eph. 2:14-14). Even though we see no distinction between Jew and Gentile within the Body of Christ today, Hebrew Christians still represent the chosen earthly people who will one day inherit their own land and enter into the fulfillment of the divine promise to them.
So Paul teaches in this paragraph (vv. 5-10) that there is an elected minority as well as a rejected majority. Already we have seen that there is an elected minority. These are the children of Israel who have entered into the blessing of the gospel and, therefore, constitute an integral part of the Body of Christ in this day of grace. But with the elected minority, there is also the rejected majority (vv. 7-10). From this point the apostle proceeds to tell us why the majority has not obtained God’s full and free salvation. Seeking God’s justifying mercies by means of their own works, instead of by means of God’s salvation, they have become the victims of the spiritual stubbornness, senselessness, shamelessness, and slavishness (vv. 7-10). This happened to Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17-18), and God had to reject him. So it has been with Israel and will continue to be until their eyes are opened to see the One whom they have pierced, and they mourn because of Him (Rev. 1:7).
Conclusion: As Christian people, we must not pride ourselves that this is only true of the Jews. As we shall see in the verses to follow, the unbelieving Gentile world and Christendom, in particular, are going to come under the same judicial hardening and punishment. There are no grays with God! The colors are either black or white. The way of salvation is either right or wrong. We cannot compromise or negotiate when we come to the matters of divine reality. Our God is a God of mercy and of judgment, of goodness and severity. Either we deal with Him on His terms, or we take the consequences. Thank God, the door of grace is still wide open, and in His sovereignty, God is still calling out to those who have been elected to personal salvation.
From the personal conversion of Israel, Paul now turns to…
(continued in #0233)
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org