Can We Trust God?
As a father, it is my responsibility to lead and protect my family. A couple years ago we were at the beach. My kids love going to the beach… actually, I’m not sure if that’s so true as that they love to go to the pool when we are at the beach. At any rate, my son loves the water, but he hasn’t really mastered swimming. So, we were in the pool and I was working with him. Jump in, I said. But he was nervous. He knew that if he jumped in the pool, he was putting his life in my hands. Now, he did eventually jump in because he trusts me.
When I ask the question, “Can we trust God?” it might be pretty obvious that I say “Yes!” The real question is “Do you trust God?”
INTRO: As we move into Romans 11, we need to take just a minute to understand the context- that is, where we are coming from and what the big picture is. In Romans 9-11, Paul is making an argument for God’s mercy and sovereignty which coincides with man’s responsibility and response to God. In chapter 9, we talked about God’s character and how He longs for all to come to salvation, in chapter 10, we looked at the simple message of the Gospel in that WHOEVER will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. And through all of this, Paul continues to specifically talk about the Jews who reject Christ. If you look back to Romans 9:2-3, we see Paul’s sorrow over them because they have rejected Jesus. We asked the question, “Did God’s Word Fail?” and the answer was “NO”. In chapter 10, we see Paul’s desire for their salvation and diagnosis of their ignorance. And at the end of chapter 10, we are given clues that the rejection of Jesus by the Jews was anticipated and accounted for.
So that brings us into chapter 11, where Paul again asks and answers some very important questions. And as we walk through this chapter this morning, my hope is that we will see that not only can we trust God, but also that we would trust Him all the more.
So let’s look at the very first question Paul asks in verse 1. Now, Paul states it like this: “God has not rejected His people has He? I am going ask it this way:
Is God Still Faithful? (1-10)
Is God Still Faithful? (1-10)
Did God reject the Jews because they rejected Jesus? Did He renege on His promise to make them a great nation? Is there any hope for the Jewish people or has God thrown pushed them away?
The short answer is that God is still faithful- Paul says, “No way did God reject His people or go back on His promises!”
He gives a few examples that support his answer:
Paul himself was a Jew who, if you remember, was persecuting the Christians and God still showed him mercy.
For that matter, all the apostles were Jews and God was using them greatly
He reminds us of the OT prophet Elijah who thought that ALL of the Jews had turned away from God- that he was the only one left, yet God told Elijah that there were some 7000 who God had kept from bowing to the false gods.
We already learned in chapter 9 that salvation was not a matter of ethnicity or association, but rather was a matter of surrender to Christ and trust in His finished work on the cross. Salvation is God’s act of mercy and He saves people according to His pleasure and grace.
The Jews, Paul says, had become calloused to God; they were unmoved by His glory or His majesty- they simply went through empty motions and assumed that their heritage, their tradition, and their association was the source of their righteousness and salvation. They got comfortable and they no longer saw God to be the Almighty, wondrously holy, righteous, and pure creator who is both sovereign and merciful. They no longer approached the temple to worship God, but rather to fulfill an obligation. They followed the letter of the rules, but neglected the spirit behind them.
Discuss: How do we approach worship? Are we simply going through the motions?
You may say, what does it matter? Friends, our relationship with God is not merely a religious formula, rather it is personal and intimate. In fact one of the reasons that God gave marriage as an institution was to be a picture of our relationship to God. We do not simply carry out obligations to our spouse, but we pursue them, we love them, we desire to know them in authentic, intimate ways.
The reality is that this rejection of Christ was due to their apathy towards God- their eyes were not able to see and their ears were deafened because they had placed their faith in their own hands instead of God’s.
Here’s the thing: God was not surprised by this. In fact, through Moses, God predicted this very thing and through it all, God remains faithful- as it says in Romans 10:21, ‘All the day long, I have stretched out my hand to a disobedient and obstinate people.’
So when we ask the question about God’s faithfulness- and specifically to the Jews here, we see that it is not God who turned His back on them, but they who rejected Him. Thus we can see that God’s faithfulness goes even further in that He would still reach out His hand to the Jews- He still extends his hands and calls them.
And so we say, ok, God is still faithful, but
Is God Still Sovereign? (11-32)
Is God Still Sovereign? (11-32)
Here is what Paul says in v.11 - Did the Jews stumble so as to fall? In other words, did this rejection ruin God’s plan? Does God have to start over?
We have to think of it this way, If God’s plan was to use the Jewish people to be a light unto the nations, and they failed on their part, does that mean that God’s plan failed? Did the Jews ruin it for everyone?
Well, the answer, of course, is NO.
God used the rejection by the Jewish people to bring the message of salvation and hope to the Gentiles (non-Jews) and to the world!
Think back to the book of Acts- Jesus had commissioned His disciples to go to all the world. They were all teaching around Jerusalem and things were going well- the day of Pentecost led thousands to trust in Christ, but soon after they were met with some opposition. Not by the Romans though, by the Jewish religious leaders. Some of the disciples were arrested and then released, but things came to a head when a young deacon named Stephen was murdered by religious Jews for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After that, the Christians began to disperse into different regions so as to escape this persecution. And it was in doing so that they shared the Gospel with non-Jews in Samaria and Joppa.
I wonder if the Gospel would have been shared with non-Jews if the Jewish leaders had not have rejected the message. Would they have kept it to themselves as Israel did in the OT?
Either way, God used what was intended for evil, for Good- this is a great demonstration of what we learned in Rom. 8:28
Now, there is an interesting phrase I want to point out- Paul says in v. 11 and 14 that he hoped that the salvation of the Gentiles would move the Jews to jealousy… He’s not talking about the kind of jealousy that makes people mad and crazy, but rather the kind that makes you think: “I want what they have...”
Hey I wonder, Do people look at your Christian life and think, “I want that...” I want the joy they have- the confidence in eternity and the freedom in Christ. I want the relationships they have that are genuine and love-filled.
I read about an Army chaplain who stopped to tend to a wounded soldier who was in the trenches of the battlefield. This chaplain gave his own water to the soldier while he himself was thirsty. He put himself in a position to cast shade during the hot sun of the day and sacrificed his blanket and outer clothing for the soldier during the cold night. After about a day and a half the medics came to retrieve the men and the soldier said to the chaplain, “What you have, I want. Tell me about your God.”
Discuss: Do people want the relationship with Christ that you have? Would your Christianity move anyone to jealousy?
Paul gives a metaphor of an olive tree- this was a popular and important tree for the folks in and around that area. Through this illustration, Paul affirms these truths: God is Kind and Severe (22):
We ALL are branches and must rely on the root. Don’t be conceited! Don’t think that God HAS to let you into His kingdom or that God owes you something. If your faith is not genuine, you will not just get a pass. You will be judged severely.
This is what Jesus was talking about in John 15
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
2. God has the ability to graft in anyone He desires.
a. We should not count anyone as “too lost” for we are not the judge of that. God is kind in extending this grace!
Here is the beauty of this- God, in His sovereignty has used the rejection by the Jews to bring salvation to the world, and in His grace will call many Jews back to Him through the witness of the Christians.
I believe that’s what Paul is talking about here: Let me read verse 30-32 to you:
For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
Discuss: Are you showing others the mercy that was shown to you?
BTW- one way that you can show this mercy and share the Gospel is by sharing your life.
You may wonder about whether God’s plan is working…
I have a suspicion that the 144,000 that John speaks about in Revelation 7 might just be the answer we are looking for… either way, God is faithful and He is sovereign and all of this has been accounted for in His plan to bring salvation to the world.
And so finally we ask the question,
Is God Still Worthy of My praise? (33-36)
Is God Still Worthy of My praise? (33-36)
Paul immediately reflects upon the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge.
So often, we forget that God is far above man- His ways are higher than our ways- He is greater than we can imagine, yet how many times do we place ourselves in judgment of Him?
I love to think about this: How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (that means- we are not going to grasp it! It’s too high for us!)
Paul uses two quotes from the OT here- one from Isaiah and one from Job to illustrate this (34-35). We need God, not the other way around. God is exalted- He alone can judge for He alone is holy. And because He alone is Holy, mighty, infinite and good, our gratitude for His mercy should be oh so great!
And when we think about whether or not God should be praised in our lives, we just cannot wrap our minds around it!
What must it have been like for the prophet Isaiah to see the temple filled with God’s glory? What must it have been like to be on the mountain with Moses as God allowed him to see a taste of His glory?
We cannot begin to dream of what it will be like to be face to face with the King of kings and Lord of lords! BTW, that day is coming for every person- we will stand before Him on the day of judgment.
Listen Jesus Christ is not just a guy who died on a cross! His salvation is not just an escape from judgment. No, folks, He is offering communion and adoption into His Kingdom! He is God who was in the beginning, the Agent of creation, the sustainer of all things! Not simply a Savior, but our He is Lord of all! You wonder why Christians in the first and second century had so much trouble with the government? It’s because they knew that God alone is worthy of worship, not the King or Emperor. Not the gods of money or sex. Christian friends, we in 2020 need to ensure our worship ONLY go to the Holy God of the Bible. Stop trying to put your comfort on His throne. Stop trying to place your understanding at the level of God’s!
But here is the reality:
God has given freely and continues to give us blessings and joy - every breath I take is because God has given it! Every beat of my heart is because God has allowed it! Everything beautiful I see is because God has ordained it!
Discuss: Does your worship reveal the true goodness of God?
Therefore, should not every breath of my lungs shout praises to Him?
Should not every beat of my heart result in an action that gives glory to God?
Should not every thing my eyes behold result in thanksgiving to the God who gave them?
Discuss: How much do you trust God?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
I can still hear the voice of Mr. Fred Kilstrom who would sing, with every fiber of his soul, the song, “My Tribute”
How can I say thanks For the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved, Yet You gave to prove Your love for me; The voices of a million angels Could not express my gratitude. All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee. To God be the glory, To God be the glory, To God be the glory For the things He has done.
With His blood He has saved me, With His power He has raised me; To God be the glory For the things He has done. Just let me live my life, Let it pleasing, Lord to Thee, And if I gain any praise, Let it go to Calvary.
Friends, God is still faithful, Still Sovereign, and Still Worthy. Let our lives reflect this truth.