Lesson 37


The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

11:1 I ask then, Did God reject his people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 11:2 God didnít reject his people, which he foreknew. Or donít you know what the scripture says about Elijah? How he pleads with God against Israel: 11:3 "Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have broken down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life." 11:4 But how does God answer him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.


Today's Lesson 

Paul has declared that the Gentiles who did not seek after righteousness had found righteousness in Christ. Israel, who sought righteousness as though it was by works, was rejected because they did not submit to the righteousness of God, which is by faith. So Paul asks the rhetorical question, "Did God reject his people?"

 

Paul gives two responses to this question that are tied together with one another. The first part of the answer is that God did not reject His people because there were sons of Israel who were being saved by the righteousness of Christ. Paul is an example of those Israelites who had heard the gospel of Christ and responded to its call on their lives. There were many other Jews who were now followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

But the second part of the answer is that God had always only preserved a remnant of the people. He gives an example of history. When the prophet Elijah was being persecuted following the events on Mt. Carmel he pleaded with God against Israel. Elijah was afraid for his own life and wanted God to strike out at the corrupt leadership. God answered Elijah and said, "I have reserved for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal."

 

Elijah had thought that he was alone against the world. He thought that everyone else had deserted God and gone over to idols and idolatry. God's answer to Elijah reminds us that even to His most prominent spokesmen God does not entrust His whole program. Elijah was one of the greatest of all the prophets, but even in his own day, Elijah was not the only person with whom God was dealing. God preserves His remnant even during the darkest of times. God never rejects His people, but He does reject those who in arrogance reject His grace.

 

When God preserves His remnant, He does so through what Paul calls "the election of grace." God shows His mercy on His creation. A remnant is preserved by the power and the grace of God. It is not by works that these few are chosen. If the remnant were chosen because they had earned this position, then it would no longer be of grace.

 

Elijah was not worthy of the honor that God bestowed on him. Elijah was endowed with power on Mt. Carmel and defeated the priest of Baal and then lost faith during persecution. He proved to be unworthy of the power that God had granted him. But God had not chosen Elijah because Elijah was a courageous man. God had chosen Elijah because He needed a prophet. Elijah would do because God would make him do. God would see Elijah through all that he must accomplish and God can see you and I through all that we must accomplish as well.

 

God does not reject His people because they are chosen by the grace of God to accomplish a task on this earth. We are to be the body of Christ. We are not adequate to the task on our own. God will accomplish what He will through us because it is His will and His method to take that which is unworthy and make it worthy.

 

Can you believe in a God who will preserve His chosen people? Can you believe in a God who can take the worst of your life and make it something wonderful?

 

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