Home   Complete Index    2009-2010 Sermons   2004-2008 Sermons      2002-2003 Sermons      2000-2001 Sermons     1998-1999 Sermons 

Series    Topical     Short Articles

 

Email

 

565  Sermons Available

 

Experiencing God's Undying Love

Romans 11

Jim Davis

There are two sides to love. Love's qualities involve kindness, goodness and compassion. However, love also has strength, endurance and temperance. Love is tolerant, but love is also temperate. Love often causes a great deal of conflict in our minds. How many times have we asked ourselves, "What is the loving thing to do?" Nothing represents the confliction of love better than the cross of Christ. God's love moved him to crucify his Son on the cross for our sins. That same love demanded the sacrifice of his Son on the cross for the remission of our sins. God's love compelled him to lay on his Son the sins of the whole world. We see the harshness of God's love when Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" We see the extent of God’s love as Jesus prayed, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

God's love is both gentle and tough. Our God is capable of completely saving our souls. He is also capable of completely destroying our souls in hell. God's gentleness is seen in his tenderness, kindness, generosity and patience. God's toughness is seen in his judgment against sin. The extremities of God's love are seen in the following verses.

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (NIV)

If God's love were too soft, it would only encourage evil. If God's love were too hard, it would also promote evil. God's love for us, as well as his judgment against our sins is tempered with mercy. However, even mercy has a harsh side as well as a gentle side. Sometimes the most merciful thing you can do is to punish a person for doing wrong. It is little wonder Paul asks us to "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. (Romans 11:22 NIV)

The sternness and kindness of God's love is seen on Calvary. As Jesus cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" In almost the same breath he told the thief "Today you shall be with me in paradise."

God's Love Is Stern but Irrevocable

When the sternness of God’s love is observed as God disciplines his children, we may begin to think God no longer loves his children. However, God’s sternness is not an indication of a fading love. God’s love is undying. Even God’s anger with our sin exhibits his love for our souls.

Romans 11:28-32
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. (NIV)

Paul says that God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. This doesn’t mean that we have no choice. We can certainly reject his call and his gifts. However, God’s love is undying and his gifts og love are still offered. God’s love for us cannot be diminished through our rejection. God's gifts are given because of his love for us. If his gifts are irrevocable, his love is irrevocable. He cannot stop loving us.

God will not revoke his blessings because of our rebellion. It is impossible to look back and see God's blessings on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob without understanding God's love for each of us. Everything God did for them, he was doing for each of us. God used them to provide a Messiah for a blessing to all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:1-5) The blessing will always be provided in spite of our rebellion.

The gospel is powerful because God’s love is irrevocable. The ultimate desire of God is that every individual would come to repentance and be saved. (2 Peter 3:9) God's love is such that he can not withhold his love. Paul was hoping God's love to the Gentiles would make the Jews so envious that they would turn back to God.

Psalms 81:8-16
"Hear, O my people, and I will warn you-- if you would but listen to me, O Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god. I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. "But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. "If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." (NIV)

God judged Israel, but God had not rejected Israel. Even his judgement had a purpose. The purpose of God's judgement was to effect their salvation. His judgement was a redemptive act designed to bring them back to God.

In these verses we catch a glimpse of God’s undying love. Israel would not listen to God, they refused to submit to his ways and God had given them over to their own stubborn ways, but he still loved them. God says, "If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes! Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever. But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."

God's love is such that he takes no pleasure in the punishment of the wicked. (Ezekiel 33:11) We may find a certain amount of joy in seeing a person get what they deserve, but not so with God. He takes no pleasure in punishing the wicked.

Proof of God’s Undying Love

The sternness and goodness of God’s love makes it easy to think of salvation as an exclusive right to a certain group. Sometimes the saved think they are the only ones God is interested in saving. They see everyone else excluded from God's redeeming plan. The Jews believed the Gentiles were created for the fires of hell. When salvation through Christ was preached to the Gentiles, the Gentiles starting thinking God had cast away all Jews. This attitude gives rise to what Paul writes in Romans 11.

It is easy to develop an attitude where we think people are saved en masse. We lose sight of the fact people are saved individually. Our relationship with God is an individual relationship. We do not inherit our salvation. We must surrender our own hearts. Paul opens Romans 11 assuring us that God does not choose one group over another, but rather recognizes all who respond with humble hearts.

Romans 10:18-11:2
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." 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." 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." But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." 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. (NIV)

The apostle Paul’s conversion is proof of God’s undying love for every disobedient Jew. God held out his hands to a disobedient and obstinate people. He desired to save them. Paul’s life stood as evidence of God’s acceptance of those who obeyed the heavenly call. Regardless of their disobedience and God’s discipline for their sin they could be saved.

The 7,000 in Elijah’s day are another example of God’s undying love for the Jew. God impressed upon Elijah that no matter what Israel had done en masse there was a remnant that had not bowed themselves to Baal. That faithful remnant would be saved.

Romans 11:2b-4
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"? And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 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. (NIV)

Just as God saved the remnant of 7,000 faithful in Elijah’s day, today he saves the remnant of faithful. God doesn’t save any group en mass. He saves the remnant because of the individual's choice of obedience.

Which way is it? Do hearts become obstinate because of God’s rejection? Or, does God reject us because of our hard hearts? Too many reject God because they desire to seek God on their terms and their hearts become obstinate to God’s call. Israel had a zeal for God. They earnestly sought God, but they sought him on their terms. They rejected all who sought God on God’s terms.

Romans 11:7-10
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." 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." (NIV)

These verses draw upon the imagery of a person feasting at a banquet table and the person's sense of safety has become their ruin. The table of blessing we sit at becomes a snare. It is like being in a stupor. Your hearing becomes vague and your eyes blurred so that you are groping about with bent backs trying to find your way. It is so easy for us to get caught up in ourselves and to become blind to what we really are and what we need to do about it.

God had not given Israel a spirit of stupor so they could reject him. He gave them a spirit of stupor because they had chosen to reject him. Their eyes couldn’t see and their ears couldn’t hear because they chose to reject God. They did not reject God because they had not heard. They rejected God because they chose not to hear. Therefore God’s judgement came upon them. His judgment was an act of his irrevocable love designed to bring about their repentance.

Hebrews 3:7-12
So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion." Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (NIV)

Undying Love Keeps Hope Alive

God gives us hope in the midst of our rebellion. God’s undying love seeks to reach a rebellious world in spite of the Jews rejection.

Romans 11:11-15
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? (NIV)

God’s undying love seeks to provoke the Jews to jealousy to bring them back into his love. God seeks to rekindle their love for him by his love for the Gentiles. Imagine a couple dating over a number of weeks or months breaking up. It isn't unusual for one to try to rekindle the flame by dating someone else to make the other jealous.

Paul envisions God provoking the Jews to jealousy through his love for the Gentile, although his love for both is real and undying. God's ways are truly past finding out. God is endeavoring to use Israel's insensitivity to him as a means to their salvation as he provokes them to jealousy. He hopes jealousy will provoke them to respond to his love. Imagine this, Israel is insensitive to God. God resurrects their sensitivity through envy so they may see God’s love for them through what he is doing for the Gentile.

The Jews transgression became a means of salvation to the Gentiles.When the Jews nailed Christ to the cross, it became a means of salvation for the whole world. The object of their rejection became the means to our salvation. Salvation came through the Jews rejection of the Messiah. Their rejection of Christ brought reconciliation to the world. When they rejected Christ salvation went to the Gentiles. Now God was seeking to provoke Israel to jealousy in hope that they would return to him.

Sometimes the only way you can provoke others to a better way of living is to make them jealous of the way you are living. Jealousy is not the best of motives, but it can be the beginning of a new life in Christ.

God's rejection of the obstinate Jew was not permanent. Proof of this is Paul's conversion after his obstinate rejection of Christ.

Romans 11:16-20
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. (NIV)

Sometimes the allegories from the Jewish mindset are hard for the modern mind to follow. Paul refers to food offered to God. The law was that the first part of the dough being prepared for a meal had to be offered to God. (Numbers 15:19-20) If the first part was offered, the whole lump was sanctified. Paul has shown us that God has accepted the remnant of Israel who chose to obey. This reveals God's willingness to sanctify the whole nation, but of course they would have to be obedient.

Another proof that God had not completely rejected the Jewish nation was that Israel was the root from which salvation originated. It was a common practice to plant sacred trees in places sacred to the gods. When the sapling was planted, it was dedicated to God; and thereafter every branch that came from it or that was grafted in was sacred to God.

The logic Paul uses is that the patriarchs were sacred to God; they had in a special way heard God's voice and obeyed God's word. They had been chosen and consecrated by God. The whole nation sprang from them. So just as the whole lump of dough was sanctified by the handful offered, and the tree was made sacred by its root; God also accepted the Jews as candidates for salvation as a result of the faithfulness of the patriarchs.

Romans 11:17-23
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. (NIV)

Becoming arrogant is the easiest thing to do. Paul reminds the Gentiles the branches or Jews were broken off of the tree so the Gentile could be grafted in. They were broken off because of unbelief and the Gentile was grafted in because of faith. However, this left no room for boasting, for God was willing to graft the natural branches back into the tree.

Accepting God’s Undying Love

God’s love is undying and the gifts of salvation are irrevocable. But we must the proper response to his kindness.

Paul asks us to "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." (Romans 11:22 NIV)

God's loving kindness is extended to you upon the condition "that you continue in his kindness." If you refuse to continue in his kindness, the sternness of God’s love will cut you off from his blessings. The purpose of God cutting you off is to bring you back to obedience.

Conclusion:

As we read God's word, we find that there are many promises made to us. God intends to keep every single one of those promises. In fact, we are told that all of the promises of God are in the affirmative for us. God would never make a promise and revoke that promise. We should see this in his dealing with Israel. If God could take their rebellion and turn it into an opportunity to show mercy on the Gentiles, then we should be assured that God has our best interest at heart.

God is not some tyrant looking to condemn but of a loving Father seeking to bring the lost into his mercy. God's mercy is for all. God's mercy is for you.
 
 

 

Home   Complete Index    2009 Sermons 2004-2008 Sermons      2002-2003 Sermons      2000-2001 Sermons     1998-1999 Sermons 

Series    Topical     Short Articles

Email