reasons of copyright restrictions, we ask that you read Romans 10:16-11:24
without its being printed here.
with rejection – God’s way
you ever wondered how God deals with rejection? Perhaps the problem is
different for him.
thing we may note quickly: God just doesn’t take our excuses for rejecting him
with any seriousness. Paul gives us two examples here:
“I never heard
it.” In this day and age? You’ve got to be kidding. Ask anyone who uses this
one what they think of televangelists. If they have an opinion, they’ve heard.
understand it.” To the Jews Paul makes the point that even the troll-witted
Gentiles got the Gospel – to the point the Jews should be envious about it.
Can you possibly maintain that Christianity is so difficult that it’s the
exclusive province of physics Ph.D.’s ?
which I would add the common one of today: “Everybody knows it’s false.”
First, that’s obviously not factually correct (“Everybody???”); it also means
you haven’t bothered to examine the evidence for the existence of something
that’s been around for two thousand years.
evil, a greater good
primary method of dealing with evil is simply this: he will permit no evil out
of which he cannot bring a greater good. This, of course, means a very
different attitude towards those who are evil. Think not?
What was Christ’s
attitude towards those who were crucifying him?
Out of the evil of the Crucifixion came the greater good of salvation.
Indeed, we are
instructed to have the same attitude ourselves – to love our enemies.
This is God’s method of bringing out the greater good, of overcoming evil with
would be wonderful to say that this method produces universally successful
results. It wouldn’t make for much of a story, though – and it wouldn’t be the
way things are in a universe full of creatures with free will. God also deals
with rejection by reserving for himself a few, usually referred to as “the
It is a characteristic of God that he allows evil to blossom (there’s that free
will again) and ultimately destroys it – leaving behind a remnant of those
loyal to him. This process is repeated again and again, and hence is often
referred to as “refining.”
it just possible that God, who does not change, is still doing this? Consider
the doings at our own church. Our leadership is now enthusiastically on board
with the emergent church movement. “Sin” is a seldom-heard word now (not
“seeker friendly”); we are told (for example) that adultery might be
harmful to your marriage relationship.
What is the reaction? Most members think this a welcome change from the old
ways; but there are a few (not all of them senior citizens) who cling to the
teaching of the Scriptures. When trouble comes – and it will – those who
joined the happy social club will flit away. Refining, made simple.
Romans 11:25-32 NIV I do not
want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be
conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of
the Gentiles has come in. (26) And so all
Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. (27)
And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins."
(28) 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, (29) for
God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. (30)
Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as
a result of their disobedience, (31) so they
too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to
you. (32) For God has bound all men over to
disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
conceited is often connected to being ignorant. Human beings, it seems,
naturally move towards being proud of themselves – proud, without real reason.
Many of us cherish our ignorance in this. (This is a major factor in racial
prejudice.) But what does wisdom say about this?
Proverbs 3:5-7 NIV Trust in
the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; (6)
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. 
(7) Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
may be a bit of a surprise, but we have an American historical example in black
slavery. Southern whites (and many others) felt that one reason they could
cite for their racial superiority is that by slavery they had brought the faith
to many black slaves who otherwise would have remained in complete ignorance of
it. (Out of evil comes a greater good!). This is true – but tell me how this
gives you bragging rights. After all, the first message to be delivered is
that we are all sinners – including the slave owner.
reader will please note that there are a number of theories concerning the
prophetic portions of this passage. A common interpretation is that the Jews
will, at the time of the end, turn to Christ. This is said to be a sign of the
end times. There is an ample body of prophecy on this subject (see, for
example, Isaiah 60). For our purposes here it is sufficient to note that it is
clear that God has not yet finished or discarded the nation of Israel. His promises
to them are numerous; their end has not yet come, nor will it until our Lord
this is just the specific example of two important concepts:
God’s promises do
not lapse with the passage of time, or the lack of cooperation on the part of
man. If he said it will happen, it will.
In this instance,
we see the reason for the prophecy: so that all men will know of the great
mercy of God.
all men to mercy
beings are curious: they will brag about their good fortune just as if they
deserved it. It seems logically inconsistent to brag about being a Christian,
for being a Christian means that you have accepted the mercy of God. And that
means that you needed it.
is also evident that God is not merciful to you because you are a nice guy, a
white hat. No indeed; his mercy is available so that all might know the true
character of God:
1 Timothy 2:1-4 NIV
urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for everyone-- (2) for kings and all
those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness
and holiness. (3) This is good, and pleases
God our Savior, (4) who wants all men to be
saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
see Paul’s point here: the object is that all might be saved, and thus know
the truth about God. The only thing which stands between anyone and salvation
is this: man has been given free will. It’s either “thy will be done” or “my
will be done.” You pick.
Nature of God
Romans 11:33-36 NIV Oh, the
depth of the riches of the wisdom and
knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out! (34)
"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
(35) "Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
(36) For from him and through him and to him
are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
you are to know the mercy of God you must indeed know the nature of God
himself. Central to the faith is the idea that Christians are to develop a
personal relationship with God through Christ, by the Spirit. To do this, we
must have the proper knowledge. It starts with this (speaking of Christ):
Colossians 1:15-17 NIV He is
the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (16) For by him all things were created: things in
heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers
or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (17) He is before all things, and in him all things
things – all things – are created for him; are created through him and for
him. Herein is the basic knowledge of God that comes first.
you see this, you can then reason forward to see the fallacy of two common
theories about God:
One is the “cosmic
bean counter” theory. God is some sort of celestial accountant whose purpose
it is (for whom?) to track our sins and good deeds. Weighing us in the
balance, we are sent to heaven or hell. May I point out just one argument
against this? It makes God so small.
Another is this:
by my good deeds (including, usually, the fact that I became a Christian) I
have placed God deeply in my debt. God owes me! This is impossible; but it
takes the majesty of God to see that.
one reaction to God’s mercy can be made a practical action of the Christian:
to pass it along. If you are grateful for the mercy shown, imitate your
heavenly father and pass that mercy along. Be merciful, as your father is
forget who the author and creator of wisdom is.
His wisdom is unsearchable by man; indeed, wisdom herself is his only
In short, “it’s not about you.” Bargain not with God. It wastes your time and