A. SALVATION BY THE LAW IS SO DIFFICULT WHEREAS SALVATION BY FAITH SO EASY (10:5-13)
Christ’s death on the cross once and for all made it quite clear that man had to stop trying to get into right standing with God by keeping His laws, but simply had to trust in the Son of God for grace and forgiveness.
God’s Law conveyed to Israel by his servant Moses states: “The one who does these things will live by them.” The righteousness (right standing with God) that comes by faith however says:
• Do not make salvation difficult for yourself by planning for someone to do the work of travelling all the way up to heaven to bring Christ down to you or by doing the work of descending down into hell to bring Christ up to you so that you may be saved: no, salvation does not require some or other work from you, it is right there with you, in fact it is in your heart and in your mouth.
• It is in your heart and in your mouth because if you believe with your heart that Jesus was raised from the grave in order that you may be accepted as one of God’s own, and if you confess with your mouth that Jesus now is the Lord of your life, you will be saved (10:9,10).
• No one that puts his trust in God in this way will ever be put to shame by not being accepted by God.
• The Lord offers Himself to both Jew and Gentile and will save and richly bless one and all that call on his Name.
B. THE NECESSITY AND GLORY OF PREACHING THIS GOSPEL (10:14,15)
Paul now makes the point that this Gospel in such a glorious offer to mankind that one and all should come to know of it therefore:
• People need to be called by God and sent out to preach the Gospel to them.
• Once they have heard and considered it, it is up to each one to put his trust in Christ and be saved.
• This act of going out and preaching the Gospel to all mankind is such an exalted task that even the dusty feet of them that cross mountains to get to the people on the other side and bring the good tidings of God’s grace and deliverance, are seen as beautiful for they are carriers of a good message.
C. THE EFFECT OF THE GOOD NEWS OF SALVATION UPON ISRAEL (10:16-21)
Paul again laments Israel’s rejection of God’s Good News saying:
• Did they not hear this good message? The answer is that they certainly did, for even the psalmist says that the voices of the preacher’s had gone out into all the Earth and their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19:4).
• Even in his time, the prophet Isaiah lamented their hardness of heart saying: “Lord who has believed our message?” (Isaiah 53:1).
• The second question that comes to mind is whether Israel then did not understand? The answer is that their lack of understanding was due to the fact that they were a disobedient and obstinate people whose understanding of spiritual concepts was shut off (Is. 65:2).
• Isaiah also describes how God turned away from Israel and revealed Himself to the heathen who had not actually been asking after Him and in this way hoping to provoke Israel’s jealousy and thereby drawing them unto Himself.
D. THE REMNANT AND THE BULK OF ISRAEL (11:1-10)
The question now arises whether this now was the final end of Israel as the people of God? To this Paul answers a very definite “no,” giving the following examples as proof:
• Firstly Paul himself who was a Jew in every fibre of his being, got gloriously saved.
• God will even now bestow a greater abundance of His grace upon those of Israel that He foreknew in order that they will get saved, just as He had in time gone by, selected and set aside a remnant for Himself. Elijah, for instance, had thought that he was the only righteous man left in the nation. God however told him that He had kept for Himself another 7000 men that had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Ki 19:18).
• What the bulk of Israel did not get by means of their works, the small group of the elect will get by way of faith in the grace of God.
• Since Israel had, for so many scores of years obstinately persisted in trying to make themselves acceptable to God by their works instead of by humbling themselves and trusting in his grace, God put a veil before their eyes and brought a deep slumber over them so that they would no longer be able to perceive His truth as contained in the Gospel (Deut 29:4 and Is 29:10).
• This state however, will not last forever.
E. AN OLIVE TREE TAKEN AS PICTURE OF THE FUTURE OF THE HEATHEN PEOPLE AND OF ISRAEL (11:11-24)
The position now is as follows:
• Israel is like an Olive tree planted by God but of which all of the branches except for a small remnant have been cut off, because of the fact that they were not fruitful.
• The heathen benefited greatly by this for they are like a shoot of a wild Olive tree that was grafted into the stump of God’s Olive tree (Israel) by their faith and in this way they now draw strength from the root which is Christ and bear fruit to God’s glory.
• This is not something for them to boast about for it is not they, the shoot that bears the Root, but the Root that is bearing them, therefore they must not be arrogant because if God cut off the branches of the natural Olive tree, how much more easily will He not cut off the branches of the wild Olive tree?
• In regard to Israel, this action was taken by God to arouse their jealousy and draw them back to Him in order that they may again be grafted into the stump of God’s Olive tree.
• And if the branches of the wild Olive tree were successfully grafted into the stump, how much more readily would the branches of the natural Olive tree be grafted back once it returns to faith?
• See then in this, God’s sternness upon those that fall but also His kindness to those that return to Him by faith.
• Once God considers that the heathen have had a fair opportunity of salvation, He will have special mercy upon the natural (physical) descendants of the nation of Israel, removing the hardness of their hearts and causing them to turn to Him by faith.
• In the meantime it is to be remembered that they are the natural descendants of the patriarchs and their ancestors to Isaac and Abraham whom God had called and to whom he had made special promises. Now since God had elected and called them to be His people and since His calling is irrevocable, the recording stands till this very day and once the full number of heathen have been saved, the remnant of Israel will also turn to God. In this way the whole of Israel will be saved, namely all that believe in Him, those coming from the natural descendants of Israel as well as those coming from the heathen nations. In this way God’s Israel will be complete, just as He had originally planned it to be.
F. DOXOLOGY (11:33-36)
Having contemplated in depth the astounding greatness of God’s plan of salvation for all the peoples of the earth including the nation of Israel, Paul now pauses to give glory to God and reflects on:
• The depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge.
• How unsearchable his judgements are.
• How untraceable His paths (ways) are.
• How impossible it would be for man to counsel God on what He is to do and what not.
• Since everything we have comes from and through God, what can offer God from our side in order to be repaid by Him.
• From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
• All we can do is to glorify Him forever and that is truly so.
With this Paul ends his theological teaching on the principle of salvation by faith alone, without the works of the Law in regards to both the nation of Israel and the heathen.
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