Shall we turn in our Bibles to Romans, chapter 11.
In chapters 9-11 Paul is dealing with a couple of subjects; one the sovereignty of God, but it is the sovereignty of God in setting aside the nation Israel as God’s primary target, you might say for work, and beginning to pour out His Spirit and work among the Gentiles. Because Paul is a Jew through and through, his heart, his prayer for Israel is that they might be saved, and yet, he can see in the Scriptures those prophecies of God’s move among the Gentiles. In the later portion of chapter 10, he gives some of those prophecies of how God was going to be found of them that did not seek for Him; He was going to manifest Himself unto the Gentiles, but of the Jew He said, “All day long have I stretched out my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”
Chapter 11 is really just a continuation of chapter 10. The chapter distinctions were not in the original writings; they have been placed there by men to help us to reference the Scriptures, to reference passages, but sometimes we have a tendency of just reading a chapter and quitting and then beginning a new chapter and you are not continuing in the same thought as though there were not the chapter or verse distinction. You must remember that in the original this was just one continuous letter. Chapter and verse distinction distinguishing facts are placed there by man only for the help in referencing passages.
God has said He was going to manifest Himself unto the Gentiles. He has stretched out His hand all day long to the disobedient and gainsaying people.
I say then, Has God cast away his people? [The answer is] God forbid (11:1).
Now it is unfortunate that there is a certain branch of theologians today who do declare that God has cast away His people. They endeavor to spiritualize Israel to make it apply to the church, and those prophecies that relate to Israel they seek to relate to the church. And as a consequence, they really get the whole prophetic picture totally confused. There are those who seek to identify the Anglo-Saxon nations as Israel. There is a lot of talk of the ten lost tribes, which is not really a true scriptural type of a reference. He said the lost sheep of the house of Israel, sent them to the lost sheep, but He didn’t say anything about ten lost tribes. But just those who were lost, the lost sheep in the house of Israel. The Lord knows exactly where the twelve tribes are and who comprises the twelve tribes. And in the book of the Revelation the Lord will be sealing 12,000 out of each tribe to preserve them through a portion of the judgments in the book of Revelation. But again, to try to make the church Israel or to make the Anglo-Saxon’s race Israel is just unscriptural and is not valid at all.
They use such arguments as the nation of Denmark they say is actually, Dan mark, actually the tribe of Dan, or the Danish people. The word ish in Hebrew means man, so Danish, so they are Danish people or Danish people according to pronunciation and, of course, you have the British, and foolish, so it doesn’t really prove too much. But it does confuse the whole prophetic scene. God is now working among the Gentiles, and God will continue to work among the Gentiles until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, when we get to Romans 11:25.
So the question is, has God cast away His people? Is He through with them forever? God forbid. The whole prophecy picture of the Old Testament dealt with Israel’s fall, but in order that they might rise again. Hosea was an interesting prophet. God told him to take a prostitute for a wife, and he began to name the children with prophetic names or names of prophetic significance. And, of course, the one child he called Lo-ammi, which means not my child. His wife had gone out and was engaging in her old practices again even while married to him, and had a child that wasn’t his. And finally she just left him completely and her life went down the tube. Until she was a slave, almost destitute and destroyed, and God said to Hosea, “Go take her again, buy her out of her slavery, wash her up, cleanse her, and take her as your wife once more.” And the whole life of Hosea with this unfaithful wife became a picture of God’s relationship with the nation of Israel, how He took her, espoused her unto Himself, married her, the glories of that first bloom of love. But then how Israel began to turn away unto other gods. They began to forsake the fountains of living waters and worship idols. And how they finally turned their back on God completely, but yet, God’s undying love and, of course, bringing them back again, and God’s work of restoration, which is yet future but shall be.
So God has not cast away His people in a final sense, for Paul said,
I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin (11:1).
Now Benjamin was one of the supposed lost tribes, but it sure wasn’t as far as Paul was concerned, he knew what tribe he was from. He didn’t say, “We Benjamites,” you know, “We are lost; we don’t know who we are or where we are.” But he knew that he was of the tribe of Benjamin.
Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, and they say that the Jews today are for the most part from the tribe of Judah. However, other tribes were lost, Judah and Benjamin remain, but the rest of them were lost. Not so. That is not the case. So most Jews today have lost their genealogies and could not tell you exactly what tribe they are from, yet they know they are Jews.
Paul of the tribe of Benjamin and,
God has not cast away his people which he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture said in and of Elijah? that how when he was making intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed your prophets, and tore down thy altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what did the Lord answer him? I have reserved for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed their knee to the image of Baal (11:2-4). Elijah had experienced one of the greatest victories in his career as he had challenged the prophets of Baal there on Mount Carmel, building the altars, “Let’s pray unto their gods,” the four hundred priests of Baal. “You can pray to them and I will pray to the living God, and the god that answers by fire let him be the God.” And, of course, the priests of Baal prayed and nothing happened, and Elijah prayed and God sent down fire and consumed the offering and the altar and all. Elijah took the priests of Baal and at that moment of victory down to the brook Kishon and slayed them. Killed four hundred of them, the prophets and priests of Baal. And the next day when Jezebel, the wife of the wicked king, found out what Elijah had done, she said, “God do so to me also if I don’t have the head of that man.” So Elijah fled from Jezebel.
It is so typical how that the times of greatest trial often follow the times of greatest victory. Thus with Elijah, tremendous victory, but now he is running from this queen--not afraid to face up to the four hundred prophets and priests of Baal, but one angry woman and he ran clear on down to the area of Mount Sinai, and there he hid in a cave. And as he was standing in the entrance of the cave, the Lord said, “Elijah what are you doing here?” He said, “I have been zealous for God, and they have all turned from You, and I am the only one You have left, and they are seeking my life. God, You are just about out of business; I am Your last one and they have got a contract out on me.”
God responded to Elijah, “I have 7,000 who have not bowed their knee to Baal.” There was the remnant, the faithful remnant that were there, and God knew who they were, and God had them numbered. As Paul is going to point out, God has always had His faithful remnant--those believers among the Jewish people, those special persons, super special persons among the Jewish people who have recognized the true work of God and are walking with God in fellowship with Him. With God there have always been a special number, a remnant, the faithful remnant. So in the time of Elijah, Paul said, “Don’t you remember that God said, ‘There are 7,000 that I have reserved unto Me’?” The true remnant that worshipped God, that served God, that had not turned after Baal. Even so, Paul said,
At this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace (11:5).
There were those in Paul’s day and, of course, the early church was a Jewish church to begin with. There was some problem when even it was thought that they might introduce Gentiles into the church. It was, first of all, strictly Jewish, but among the Jews there were many believers, the remnant, God’s faithful remnant who now are according to the election of grace.
And it is now by grace, it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it is of works, then it is no longer grace (11:6):
In other words, grace and works are mutually exclusive. If I am expecting God to accept me by His grace, then there is no work that I can do to make me acceptable. If I am seeking to be accepted by God by my works, then grace has no affect upon my life. They are mutually exclusive, and yet, we are so often trying to make a combination out of the two. Saved by grace, but oh, you know, let me do my works. But if it is of grace, then it cannot be of works. But if it is of works, then it can’t be of grace; they are mutually exclusive.
What then? Israel has not obtained that which it sought for; but the election have obtained it, and the rest were blinded (11:7)
Now, what was Israel seeking? They were seeking to be righteous before God. That was the whole purpose of the sacrifice of the law, in order to develop a righteous standing before God.
Now it is interesting that Paul makes reference here that they were seeking it by works. That continues to the present day, a Jew today is seeking to be accepted today on the basis of his good works. Yom Kippur is not a day of sacrifice, the priest entering in with the offering before the Lord in the Holy of Holies, but Yom Kippur is a day of reflection as you sat and you reflect upon your good works and upon your evil works and balancing the good works against the evil, so it is a seeking acceptance by God on the basis of works.
Paul speaks about them doing it in his day, and they are doing it to the present day--still seeking an acceptance by God on the basis of their works. The Jews are not alone in that, that same concept has crept over into church so that in many different churches there are people who are looking to their works as the basis of being accepted by God. “God will accept me if I am faithful to the ordinances of the church and the sacraments of the church, and if I am doing this and this.” They are looking for acceptance on the basis of their good works.
When you are looking to your good works as the basis of your acceptance for God, surely that doesn’t prompt a lot of works, so these people are real workers. They have a practice of going around, many of them from door to door. It is easy to tell the difference from where they’re coming from. If they are riding bicycles and have shirts and ties, then, you know, they are working their way through the Mormon system. If they carry a little magazine bag, then you know that they are working their way through the Jehovah Witness. They are both systems that are predicated on works and looking to their works as the basis of being accepted.
If it is of works then it is no more of grace; it can’t be of both. So Israel did not obtain that acceptance before God, that righteous standing, because they sought it by their works. Whereby their election did obtain it, the election of grace. But the rest were blinded.
(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. David said (11:8-9),
Paul just starts passages of Scriptures out of the Old Testament to prove his point. And this is good solid teaching when a man will make a statement and then give you three or four verses to confirm that statement. And so he first quotes from Isaiah, then he quoted from David, and he said,
Let their table be made a snare, a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them: let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always. I say always then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? (11:9-11)
Have they stumbled that they should be put out of the game forever?
God forbid: but rather that through their fall there is come salvation unto the Gentiles, in order to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world (11:11-12),
In other words, by Israel falling out of the place of divine favor in the sense that now set them aside that He might work among the Gentiles, His work of Grace. Their being set aside brought to us the riches of God’s grace, goodness and love unto the Gentiles.
the diminishing of them or the riches of the Gentiles; how much more will their fullness be? (11:12)
God is yet to work with them, and when the fullness comes and God begins to work again with Israel, if their fall brought such glory to the Gentile world, what will it be when God restores them, but of course the Kingdom Age, that glorious age to which we look.
For I speak unto you Gentiles, as much as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my office (11:13): So Paul now turns to speak to the Gentiles, and he calls himself the apostle of the Gentiles. And Paul, of course, paid quite a price for this position as an apostle to the Gentiles; he had to take all types of guff from people, especially from the Jews. They considered him a traitor because he was telling the Gentiles that they didn’t need to obey the law of Moses to be accepted by God. All they had to do was believe in Jesus Christ. He was telling the Gentiles that they did not have to offer sacrifices in the temple in order to be saved, all they had to do was believe in Jesus Christ and, of course, this created quite a conflict between those Jews who were still seeking a righteousness by the law. It was a threat to them, even as the declaration that a person could be saved through faith in Jesus Christ alone today is a threat to many churches and church systems.
I have a friend who was in the Anglican Church in Canada. He was a dean in one of the cathedrals there, and this man became born again, really turned on to the Lord. And he began to have prayer meetings with the Episcopalian or the Anglican Church there. And in these prayer meetings people really were beginning to experience the power of God and the Holy Spirit in their lives. The church was a very liberal church, and that was quite fine if that makes you feel good, more power to you, a very tolerant attitude. And then he started teaching the people that you have to be born again. He was kicked out because that was contrary to the basic church belief that you were born again when you were baptized as an infant and then later your confirmation, you were only confirming your salvation at infant baptism. And when he started saying you have go to be born again it created such a problem that he was dismissed from his church for teaching the people that you had to be born again. They were trusting in their works, infant baptism and confirmation, instead of just that faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul magnifying his position as an apostle as he sought:
to provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, that I might save some of them (11:14).
He was just really in his heart as he said, “My heart-felt prayer and desire for Israel is that they might be saved.” Even though he was called of God as the apostle of the Gentiles, then was in all kinds of hot water for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, declaring that the Gentiles could be saved, especially could be saved apart from becoming a Jew. They could be saved by just believing in Jesus Christ and they didn’t have to proselytize and become a Jew, that made him a heretic, and for this reason they tried to kill him when he was in Jerusalem. But yet, Paul’s desire and prayer for Israel was for their salvation. He goes on to say,
If the casting away of them was the reconciling of the world (11:15),
God reconciled the world to Himself through Jesus Christ. Not just the Jewish people, but now the world.
what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (11:15)
Again dealing with the contrast from the lessor to the greater if their casting away brought such reconciliation of the world to God, the Gentile world, then what will it be when God receives them again and gives His divine favor and grace upon them?
For if the firstfruits be holy, the whole lump is also holy: and if the root is holy, so are the branches (11:16).
And, of course, the firstfruit Abraham, the patriarchs, the fathers, the root from which these people spread.
If some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and you have partaken of the root and the fatness of the olive tree; don’t boast against the branches. But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root thee. I will say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; it was because of unbelief that they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Don’t be high-minded, but fear (11:17-20):
There has been through history of the church a very unfortunate relationship between the church and the Jews, and unfortunately, the church has been responsible for much of the persecution of the Jews today. I think that is indeed tragic. That for years the Catholic Church led in the persecution of the Jews, and it was something when Martin Luther broke away from the Catholic Church, he carried with him his anti-Semitism, and Martin Luther also encouraged the persecution of the Jews.
It crept on into Protestantism. There are many Protestant ministers today who are very anti-Semitic. And I get hate mail from them because of my known position of support for Israel and for the Jews. There are those who would boast themselves against the natural branches, “God’s cut them off, God is through with them; we are now the people.” And he says, “Wait a minute, you are a wild olive branch and you have been grafted into the vine or into the tree, contrary to nature. And they were broken off because of their unbelief, and you are only standing by faith, so don’t be so high-minded.”
I do believe that as Paul, our hearts and desire and prayers for Israel, that they should be saved. Now that doesn’t mean that I have a great burden to establish a Calvary Chapel in Jerusalem and to start a mission there to save the Jews. I do not feel that God has called me as an evangelist to the Jewish nation or to the Jewish people parse. God has called me to just teach His Word and that I am to do faithfully. However, I do not feel that I can undo what God has done, and that is why I don’t have a burden for Jewish evangelism. And so in this I am neither fish or fowl, I get it from both sides because some people have a tremendous zeal for Jewish evangelism that I don’t have. I believe that God will evangelize them when He is ready, and that God will graft them back in when He is ready, and that God will open their eyes when He is ready. In the meantime, God has poured out His grace, His Spirit upon the Gentiles, and thus, I like to fish where the fish are biting. And so, these are the fruitful fields among the Gentiles, and I really feel that, for the most part, Jewish evangelism is a waste of church finances that can be better used to evangelize the Gentiles at this time. And that when the day comes God Himself is going to reveal Himself to the Jewish nation, to Israel, and God is going to work there among them. So, I like to go over and provoke them to jealousy, and tell them how wonderful their Messiah is and what He has done for me, and how much I love Him, and how glorious it is to walk in fellowship with God, and to have peace with God and the joy of the Lord and all, and just what a glorious Messiah they have. And I like to provoke them to jealousy, but I am quite interested in them and I do share with them and I share my beliefs and my faith with them, but I am amazed at how blind they are. Because some of them are extremely knowledgeable in the Word of God, yet they are so totally blind when it comes to Jesus Christ. Blindness has happened to Israel and that is true.
When I was speaking a few years back at the International Congress in Jerusalem, sharing the platform with then Prime Minister Begin, I got some hate mail from some of the rabbis in the Meo Sharem area of Jerusalem, who are ultra orthodox, rebuking me for trying to support the nation of Israel with understanding from the Christians, because the purpose of the rally was to bring understanding to the Jews and the evangelical Christians, and these radical rabbis wrote me these letters rebuking me and telling me I had no business being there and Israel had no right to even exist as a nation because the Messiah had not yet come. They did not yet have their temple, and they were very opposed to the nation of Israel themselves. They lived there in the Meo Sharem district of Jerusalem, but they did write to King Hussin in Jordan and they asked him to annex the Meo Sharim into Jordan. They didn’t want to have anything to do with the nation of Israel. They feel that it is sort of an illegitimate state right now. And so they wrote me these letters and all. So these guides that I had been talking to for so long and witnessing to, I said, “Hey fellows I want to show you...” They were so pleased. And, “It’s so nice that you are here,” and all this kind of stuff. And I said, “Look at what some of your rabbis sent me.” And I gave them these hate letters that I had from the rabbis there. And they read it and said, “Oh, this is just junk. Those guys are just a bunch of religious fanatics. They don’t know what they are talking about. They’re just religious fanatics.” And I said, “But they are rabbis.” “Oh, but they’re just religious fanatics.” And I said, “You mean a rabbi can be a religious fanatic?” “Oh, ya, ya.” “Have you ever stopped to think that it was probably those same kind of rabbis that rejected Jesus as the Messiah, because He didn’t fit the patterns. A bunch of radicals, and yet, you today are following those radicals.” They didn’t have much to say. So I get my little witness in.
They were broken off because of their unbelief, and we only stand by faith.
For if God spared not the natural branch, take heed lest he also spare not thee (11:21).
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that bears fruit, He washes it that it might bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean through the Word that I have spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and let my words abide in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, neither more can thee, except you abide in me” (John 15:1-5). Abide in Me, the emphasis of abiding. We are branches, and we have been grafted in contrary to nature. We receive the blessings of God, the blessings of the promises of God to Abraham and to David. We have received the benefit of them through receiving Jesus Christ, and we partake of the fatness and the richness and the fullness of God’s love and grace that He had promised unto Abraham, unto Isaac, unto Jacob, and unto David. But we only stand by faith. And again, we are encouraged to abide there. “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He does not spare thee.”
Behold therefore the goodness and the severity of God: on them which fell (11:22),
It was quite severe upon the fall of Israel from the place of God’s favor and blessings.
severity; but toward you, the goodness, if you continue in his goodness: otherwise you also will be cut off. They also, if they abide not still in unbelief, will be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again (11:22-23).
When they turned from their unbelief, God will receive them again.
For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and you were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree (11:24);
You were cut out of this wild olive tree of the Gentile’s race, and you were grafted into the good tree.
how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that you to be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceit (11:24-25),
Ignorant of what mystery? That God is yet going to deal with the nation of Israel as the nation of Israel. And unfortunately, there are many people who are ignorant of that mystery, and many ministers ignorant of that ministry. blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in (11:25).
God has sent His Spirit into the world, into the highways and byways, to compel men to come to the supper. As Jesus gave the parable, you know, the king prepared a great supper and they said, “Go out to the invited guests and invite them to come in and to eat.” And the servants came back and they said, “Well, they said that they couldn’t come,” and the various excuses. So the king said, “Then go out to the highways and the byways and compel men to come in that my house may be full.” The invited guest rejected the invitation, and so it has come to us, the Gentiles, and blindness has happened in part to Israel, not to all of Israel, again there is that remnant, but in part to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.
I do believe that God knows exactly how many Gentiles are going to be brought into the wedding feast, that God knows the exact number. If He is an omniscient God, He has to know the exact number, because that means all knowledge; He knows everything. I do believe that God does know and does have a specified number of Gentiles that are going to believe and to be a part of that kingdom, and that number is referred to as the fullness of the Gentiles.
Now there is another phrase in Luke 21, the time of the Gentiles. That is a little different. I believe that the time of the Gentiles technically was over in 1967, for Jerusalem shall be trodden under foot of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled. But since 1967. And now we are living in a short period of an age of grace between the time of the fulfillment of the Gentiles until the time of the fullness of the Gentiles is come in. Not all the Gentiles that were to be saved were saved in 1967, a lot of you weren’t, God waited for you. But somewhere alive on the earth today is some person whom God has known, and he is the last one among the Gentiles to be a part of God’s glorious eternal kingdom. The moment that person opens up his heart to Jesus Christ, we are all going to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. I am convinced of that. It is just like walking into Disneyland and having the lights flash, and the trumpets go off, and the drums roll, and they say, “You are the five millionth visitor to Disneyland,” and everything is celebration. They have been counting the people as they have been coming through, and you are it. Now the big gala celebration, and such shall be the case when the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. I wish I knew who that person was. I think I would be tempted to do a little coercion. God has called out a people for Himself. I am so grateful that God has called me. I am so thankful that God chose me to be a part of His eternal kingdom. Oh, the goodness and the grace of God, that I was chosen in Christ, that I should be an heir in the kingdom of God. I thank God daily for that blessing, as you should thank God daily that He chose you.
Now, when the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, then the blindness will be taken away from Israel. I believe that this will transpire when Russia is defeated by God as she invades the Middle East. I received some reports from Israel this past week of the tensions that are building up as the result of Russia’s deployment of the SS21’s in Syria. Some of the military leaders there were declaring that this is a definite threat to Israel’s security and will probably mean war with Syria very soon, knowing that war with Syria could very easily escalate into war with Russia. We do know that Russia is going to get involved and, of course, as the result of those tragedies today, the tensions are mounting in the Middle East. I would not be at all surprised but what we will not be forced to call on Israel to bail us out of Lebanon. I think that our government has made some serious miscalculations and some serious blunders in the decisions concerning the Middle East. It is like my friends in Israel say, “Those men sitting over in Washington don’t know what is going on over here, nor do they understand the mentality of the people that we are dealing with.”
The Syrian government recently released films of the young girls and boys in their training. These films, some of them, the ones concerning the girls were shown in Israel on television, but CBS and NBC, ABC, felt that they weren’t really newsworthy. They really showed the kind of people we dealing with, and because this kind of news is withheld, we don’t understand the mess we are in when we try to interfere with these people, because they don’t think as we think. These particular films made by the Syrian government showing the training of the young girls for battle, for their army, and the Russians are now expanding their advisors to 8,000 in Syria.
But these pictures show these girls taking snakes and handling the snakes and so forth. They are in training in their service, and they begin to bite the snakes until their mouths are covered with blood, and then they began to eat the snakes--they roast them, then eat them after biting them to death. A bloody mess, and it was shown on Israeli TV. It’s filmed out of Syria. The fellows, of course, they felt that the Israelis couldn’t stomach this film, so they didn’t show it, choking to death little dogs and ripping them apart. Part of their training in just being cold, calloused, vicious, and that is the kind of people we are dealing with, and we are not prepared to deal with people like that, because we can’t understand how they think. And we send our Marines in there, and we restrict them and make them sitting ducks, and this is not right. The Israelis know it isn’t right, but we have tied the Israeli’s hands too, and they say, “If you are going to tie our hands, we aren’t going to stay around; we are getting out of here.” They move back behind the river where they can sit up defensible positions, and they said, “You can’t treat the people that way, you can’t stay there like that, they are just going to do murderous acts against you.” They say, “We have got it all managed.” But we don’t understand the mentality of the people we are dealing with. It is a very tragic thing, but Russia is going to be moving into the Middle East, and when Russia moves into the Middle East, God Himself is going to intervene and utterly destroy that Russian invading army.
When that day takes place, the blindness that Israel has experienced will be over and they will recognize their God. In Ezekiel 39, God declared, “And in that day when I am sanctified before the nations of the world (that is, the day when He destroys the Russian army), then will I pour out my Spirit again upon the nation of Israel.” Right now, God’s Spirit is being poured out upon we Gentiles until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in, but as soon as that takes place, then God is going to deal with the nation of Israel. Blindness has happened to Israel in part until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, but then all of Israel shall be saved, because God is going to move by His Spirit again, and in a powerful way among the Gentile people; they are going to recognize.
They will come out of Zion the deliverer, and he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes (11:26-28):
It is to your blessing and benefit because the gospel is come unto us and the Spirit of God bringing the truth of God.
as touching the election, there is still beloved for the father’s sake (11:28).
God said, “I can’t let you go.” He will not let them go.
For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance [or changing] (11:29).
God is not changing; He still loves these people.
For as you in times past have not believed God, yet now have obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so these also now not believing, that through your mercy they also obtain mercy. For God has included them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! and how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (11:30-33)
So he is dealing with the sovereignty of God setting aside of Israel, the work of grace among the Gentiles, the wisdom, the knowledge, the ways of God past our finding out. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? or who hath first given to him, and it has been recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen (11:34-36).
I beseech you therefore, brethren (12:1),
Because God has grafted you in, because you are partaking of the fullness of that good tree. I beseech thee, because of these things,
that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (12:1).
God does not and has not made demands upon us. The gospel is reasonable. God said, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18).
Now, of course, existential philosophy having brought us to the point of despair encourages none reason religious experiences, because reality is despairing. If you face facts realistically, you’re going to be just despairing. There’s no help. There’s no hope. It’s all down the tubes. That is reality. If you don’t realize that, then you are not facing reality. If you still think the U.N. is going to pull us out of this mess, or that the republicans are going to pull us out of the economic mess, or the democrats, if they can get in they will have the solutions, you’re not being realistic. Existential philosophy has taught us that realism is despair. There is no hope is what they are saying. No hope. But man can’t live in a state of no hope. You’ve got to have hope. And thus, you’ve got to take a leap of faith into what they call the upper story, into a non-reason religious experience. You’ve got to go into that world of unreality and have some kind of religious experience that will sustain you and help you. And, of course, we see and, of course, the papers are always ready to give a lot of publicity to these non-reasoned religious cults. In Laguna Canyon in their meditations how they found serenity, and peace, acceptance, beauty, love, baras, you know, tingling feelings, non-reasoned religious experiences. “I can’t tell you why I feel that way. I just feel that way.” Non-reasoned religious experience. Now, that isn’t what the Bible teaches. The Bibles teaches reasonable relationship. “Come now let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they can be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they can be as white as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). “Present your body as a living sacrifice, unto God, which is your reasonable service.” When you really stop to think of it, it is reasonable to present my body to God, because as we dealt with the eleventh chapter this morning in detail, verse 33, the wisdom and the knowledge of God, “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God.” It’s reasonable if God is so wise and knows so much, it’s reasonable to present my body, my life to Him that He might guide and direct me. It is unreasonable for me to try and go ahead and continue to try and figure out things and to work out my own life and to work out my own plan, and I am so stupid. The reasonable thing, the rational thing, the smart thing is to just turn my life and decision-making factors of my life over to God that He might direct my life, and thus, presenting my body unto God as a living sacrifice, that’s reasonable, that’s smart, that’s just good thinking, and anything less is unreasonable. You’re not thinking well. You’re confused.
Don’t be conformed to this world, and yet, that is exactly what the world is pressing for, and that is exactly what peer pressure is pressing towards. “You don’t want to be different. Try it. Everybody’s doing it.” The peer pressure to conform to the world. And we’re getting it in magazines, we’re getting it on television that if you don’t conform to the fruity standards of the world that there is something wrong with you. They would like to make fruits out of all of us.
Don’t be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that you might prove what is the good, the acceptable and perfect will of God (12:2).
How can I know God’s will for my life? I can know God’s will for my life as I just surrender my life to Him, as I yield my body to God and as I seek after God, God will reveal His will through my life. My life will become a progressive revelation of the will of God for me. Thus, I presented my life to God, I presented the issues of my life to God, I’ve committed myself to Him, seeking not to have any strong will of my own or allow some strong desire to master me, just to flow free in God’s Spirit, accepting what comes as coming from God, because I’ve asked God to bring into my life those things that He wants. Accepting those things that pass away as not from God, because I’ve asked God to take away from my life those things He doesn’t want. So I don’t sit there and weep over lost opportunities. “Oh, if I’d only done this. Oh, if I only had that.” If God wanted me to do it, He would have led me to do it. If He wanted me to have it, I would have had it, you see. So it is that commitment of myself to God, and as I do then God’s will becomes a progressive revelation. So I know what God’s will is for my life today, and I will know tomorrow what His will is as He reveals it to me as I walk with Him. Sort of exciting to live that way. You never know what a day is going to bring forth as God unfolds His will, His purpose for our lives.
For I say, through the grace that is given unto me, to every man that is among you, he ought not to think of himself more highly than he ought; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith (12:3).
God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. What do you do with it? We can exercise the faith. We can use the faith that God has given to us, or we can just let it die. But God has given to every man a measure of faith. A person says, “Well, I just don’t have any faith.” That is not true. I’ve not yet met a person that didn’t have faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t lie down on that bed tonight. You’d be afraid that it was going to fall through. Faith is going to hold you up so you can lie down. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t try to start your car, because you wouldn’t have faith that the thing was going to start when you turned the ignition key. We exercise faith in a lot of things, not always the right things.
Now as he deals with the subjects of the gifts of God, he begins by warning us of thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, and that is one of the greatest dangers that I see of men who have been gifted of God--they get into a little ivory tower and they begin to think that they are really something, and they begin to seek adulation, admiration, bucks for my gift, you know. How many have prostituted the works and the gifts of God in their lives trying to use it for their own personal enrichment or glory. I have a deal with God. If ever I start to do that, He is to wipe me out immediately. God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ by which I was crucified to the world and the world to me. But there is a prevalent danger to any person who experiences the working of God’s Holy Spirit through their lives to become lifted up by those around them because of what God has done. And the moment you begin to be lifted up, your effectiveness for God’s kingdom diminishes.
Now people say, “Oh, there are still multitudes being saved.” But you know. If I’m giving my body to be burned and it isn’t the love of Christ that is motivating me, but the love for riches or glory or whatever, then it profits me nothing. For many will come in a day saying, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? We cast out devils in your name. We healed the sick. We did many marvelous works.” And He’ll say, “Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” Their motivations got all twisted up. They began to do things for their own glory and to seek their own honor and their own name.
The Bible warns about those who name things after themselves, sort of a dangerous thing not for any man to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but think soberly. Come on, let’s be serious. You’re nothing but a sinner saved by grace. And anything you have God gave to you to begin with, so why are you going around as though you are something? For God has dealt to every man a measure of faith.
For as we have many members in one body (12:4),
That is, I have fingers and hands and toes and eyes and ears and I used to have hair. Stupid perversity. I have it all over my back, but I can’t grow it on the top of my head. It’s weird!
We have many members, yet we’re all one body.
and all members do not have the same function (12:4):
My eyes were made to function as eyes, and they function well as eyes, but they sure don’t function well as ears. I can’t hear very well through my eyes, and visa versa. So the body has many members, and each member has its own function in the body. Not all of them are doing the same thing. Not all of them are created to do the same thing.
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another (12:5).
So we are all put together in the body of Christ, and each of us have our own function in the body. And he’s not just talking about us here at Calvary tonight, we’re the body of Christ. We each have our function in the body. He’s talking about Calvary Chapel being a part of the body of Christ general. The other churches, the other denominations, we’re all a part of the body of Christ and members one of another, and we shouldn’t be vying with each another. We shouldn’t be biting and devouring and destroying one another. We need to identify the enemy and concentrate our efforts against him, but realize that we are one body, members one of another and that God has a purpose of the Presbyterian churches and the Methodist churches and the Baptist churches, and the Nazarenes and the Pentecostals, and not find ourselves in conflict or trying to find what’s wrong with them. Let’s find out what’s wrong with us and seek to correct what is wrong with us. The Bible says, “Therefore, let a man examine himself, for if we will judge ourselves we will not be judged of God.” And sometimes we find ourselves in the mood, so busy trying to examine the flaws and the faults of someone else, we totally ignore our own. David said, “Search me, O God,” not, “Search the guy next to me, O God, and show him his faults.” But, “Search me, O God, and know my heart, and try, O Lord, and see if there is some way of wickedness in me and lead me in Your path.” It is a personal individual thing, and something we should all be quite interested in that God would do His work in our hearts. But we are members one of another, and it is true in this sense, we are here, yes, corporately the body of Christ, and not all of us have the same office. We need to realize that God has called some as pastor teachers. God has called some as deacons. God has called some as intercessors. God has called some to street evangelism and these various things, but don’t feel that God has called everyone to say street evangelism and thus feel guilty because you can’t do street evangelism. “Oh, I get so scared, so nervous. Oh, I can’t stand going up handing someone a track.” Obviously, God didn’t call you to hand out tracks. So don’t feel condemned and guilty and a second-rate Christian and defeated because I get so scared to hand out a track. “Oh, I’m failing God.” No you’re not. If He called you to hand out tracks, He’d give you all kinds of boldness, love, and a burden and everything else for that. Just talk to the people that hand out tracks. They love it! God’s called them to that, but we’re not all called to be the same thing and we need to recognize that. And quite these guilt feelings, because I’m not called to the same ministry that you have, and I’d sure like to do the ministry that you’re doing. “I wish I could do that. Oh, if I could only do that I wouldn’t feel so guilty, because I can’t do it.” God didn’t enable me or call me to do it. He didn’t make me a finger, thus, I can’t do the work of the finger. But I may admire the work of the finger or the thumb. I may wish I could put things together like he does. God called me to be a mouth, but be thankful we’re not all mouths.
So we each take our place in the body and fill our part, do our part, realizing though that it is one body to be coordinated by the Spirit, walking in love, demonstrating Christ to the world because of our love for each other and our united efforts with one another for Jesus Christ, each of us taking our place doing our part. And we give a powerful witness then to the world as they see how harmoniously we live and function together as God’s children, and Christ is magnified among us.
So we, being many, are still one body in Christ, we’re all a part of each other, you can’t escape it.
Having then gifts that are differing according to the grace that is given unto us, if its prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith (12:6);
Prophecy is speaking forth the Word of God.
Ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching (12:7);
That is to wait upon it, fulfill it, study it, prepare for it; waiting upon it.
He that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with simplicity; and he that rules, with diligence; and he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness (12:8).
Now this is the area where we will be Thursday night, so we’re not going to elaborate on this area right now, because we’ll get that Thursday night.
Let love be [without hypocrisy] without dissimulation (12:9).
Dissimulation is an imitation. Diamond Jim used to be on a station out of Del Rio, Texas. He used to offer genuine simulated diamonds. And all of the people down south used to send in to get their five-dollar genuine simulated diamond from Diamond Jim. Let love be without imitations, without hypocrisy, not a put-on, but let it be genuine.
Now he gives us just a whole bunch of little exhortations. They’re just little phrase exhortations, and each one is almost a sermon in itself, so let’s just go over the list and let it sort of sink in.
Abhor that which is evil (12:9);
One of the things that God said concerning Job is that he hates evil. He said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? He fears God and hates evil.” The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, so abhor that which is evil. He didn’t say tolerate that which is evil, or accept that which is evil, live with that which is evil—abhor it!
cleave [stick] to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another (12:9-10);
I think this is one that we really…well, I will when I get there on Thursday night I’m going to really lay into this one. There is so much me first; pushing my way to the front, wanting to get the best.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer (12:11-12);
Not the last thing, but the first thing. Learn to pray about everything first.
Distributing to the necessity of saints (12:13);
Taking care of the needs within the body of Christ, and we do seek to do that here at Calvary. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to take care of those outside the body. And so people come for help, and of them which are members and attend here, we seek to help them. If they are not, then we sadly tell them that we just don’t have the resources to help those outside. But distributing to the necessity of the saints, we do feel that that is an obligation.
given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (12:13-15).
Be sensitive to other people’s feelings.
Be of the same mind one toward another. And mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits (12:16).
All of these are pithy little words of exhortation. I imagine Romaine could have a field day with this portion of Scripture, because it’s all good exhortation. He that exhorteth needs to wait upon his exhortation.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things that are honest in the sight of all men (12:17).
Honesty, not taking vengeance.
And if it is possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (12:18).
Now, it isn’t always possible. There are some people there is just no way you can live in peace with them. But let it be their fault not yours, as much as lies in you live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; and I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head (12:19-20).
This is a quotation actually out of the Proverbs, and just exactly what it may mean has been a matter of conjecture, but it probably means that you would bring him to burning shame. In other words, your good treatment, your kind and loving treatment would bring him to a burning shame.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (12:21).
So great exhortation and that is… We talk about meditation. Now if you want meditation, you need to come back to these, beginning with verse 9, and you need to spend time meditating on each of these and see how it can apply to your own life. Read it over and think about it, and think of how it is operating in your life right now and how you can better do these things, how you can make it apply more completely to you, in what ways you can do these things. But these are things that we need to really be following after and seeking to do in order that we might live a life that is pleasing unto our Father. So that particular portion can stand a lot of meditation, and I encourage you, meditate on these things.
“Thy word, O Lord, is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” David declared. I find that the Word of God is many times like a searchlight turned on inside, lighting up some of those dark corners. So many times I find the Word of God speaking directly to my heart as the Spirit makes application and shows me my failings, my weaknesses, and exhorts me in the right path. And thus, may the Word of God work in your heart and life, drawing you ever closer unto the divine ideal, that which God would have you to be as you walk with Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless you and be with you this week, and may He strengthen you in your walk that you might bring forth fruit unto righteousness and for the glory of His name. And may you be doers of the Word and not hearers only. In Jesus’ name.