AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH - March 12, 2006
MEET THE REMNANT OF GRACE - ROMANS 10-11:6
Paul in Romans 11, speaks of the remnant of grace, those of Israel not swamped in self-righteous substitutes for grace, believers. The appalling Age of the Gentiles, now near its end, is also a vast swamp of self-made religions, deceit, deviousness, like a crooked bow that cannot shoot straight, and latterly, some even point the bow downwards, in a very fit of spiritual perversity. Here also, increasingly, with all the religious multitudes hard at work justifying themselves, there are relatively few who remain, of Gentile as well as Jew, a remnant of grace. Meet them, love them, seek unity with them, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, for increasingly they lie hidden beneath the sepulchres, once churches, which litter the earth with the fruits of their rebellion.
Let us however trace with Paul the thrust to this concept from Romans 10-11:6.
I The Simplicity of the Gospel Romans 10:1-13
¨ Establishing your own righteousness is like building a house without foundation, on sand.
¨ ii) The very process is misplaced, for "Christ is the end of the law" as far as reaching your own righteousness is concerned. Its place was primarily to show the devastating nature of sin, so that "sin by the commandment, might become exceedingly sinful" (Romans 7:13), so stimulating towards faith in the coming Saviour, the Messiah.
¨ iii) Right from Deut. 30:12-13, the gift of the word of God is PLAIN and sure, and its Messiah has always been the centre of salvation (Gen. 22:18, Deuteronomy 18, Job 19, Numbers 24:17, and so on to Psalm 2, 22, 45, 49, with Isaiah 4,7, 9, 11, 22, 49-55 and so on): He is right here, by His spirit, in need of no exotica.
¨ iv) This same Jesus Christ Lord and Saviour, you CALL on Him, on His name, who came to save and behold, YOU TOO are saved. Notice Romans 10:9 especially, for none could call it ... hard!
II The Word of the Gospel Romans 10:14-15
It is this which makes missionary feet beautiful, not their geometry! But as to believing ? this is to be found in a remnant: always was, in the ark of Noah or of Christ in fulfilment, and it will be till heaven being selective, reveals the multitude from all ages (as in Revelation7). It is only by hearing that faith comes, and on this earth, this is the only hope, this same Gospel: indeed it is for one or all. None will ever find God without it. None can ever fail to find Him believing it!
III Riot and Remedy Romans 10-16-11:6
There is neither excuse nor alternative. The fact of deity has been clear from the first (as in Romans 1), His creation self-declarative; but the fact of disparagement of the divine is no less clear. Indeed, the Lord has provoked disbelieving Israel by lesser nations, to help them realise their folly in rejecting the Lord. He appears to be doing just the same now as He forecast He would do in Deuteronomy 32, for their disbelief. Those with lesser gifts than Israel, lesser fame, lesser name, will parade in pomp, by guile or power, and Israel will suffer while she is on the one hand sustained by God, according to the promise for her eventual return, which now is, and chastened for her continual disobedience to the Gospel.
We Gentiles are most fortunate and blessed, that grace is THRUST at us, even the grace which Israel as a nation, rejected. Even on those who had not sought the Lord, since those surfeited by His kindness dishonoured it, this divine mercy has come like a constructive tornado, not tearing down but building up. With such bounty, from above, how high the Gentiles came: yet how low they can sink, before in their intemperate and distempered pride they too, as if to imitate Israel, asserting themselves to the uttermost, fighting, dividing and following with folly, the constructions of their own psychologies, yield to whatever foul spirits appeal. The spirits of lust for power, privilege and the lordship over not merely creation, but all, these attracted the Gentiles like a magnet with iron filings, and its lines of force have become plain to see, this one and that, scheming or preening, looking for the pre-eminence which belongs to God alone.
Many who had not sought the Lord were indeed found, but as we see in Romans 11, especially 11:20-21, the open access is an open door to depart for the nations, as years and generations pass; and haughty high-mindedness, rather than lowliness, is an open invitation to a rejection which spells R U I N, for them as it did to the Jew. For the Gentiles, unlike the Jew, there is no promise of this or that, only of ruin where unbelief plays cuckoo (Matthew 24:22).
Thus, despite the prognosis, the door is still open to Jew or Gentile. While we are open to His bounty, free and full as in Isaiah 55, let us embrace it as if cool waters in the desert. The word of God is preached to this day, and faith comes by hearing. Then ... let us listen and act! Let no one fail.
His kindness has never ceased (Titus 2-3), and even His law, to inscribe sin's horrors on the mind, to turn us to the Lord, has been misused as a means of manufacturing merit (Romans 10:3, 3:23ff.), rather than having its true use, to drive us like arrows to the pardon in the Prince of Peace. Protracted unbelief becomes chronic rebellion, common as dirt, unclean as industrial waste. Romans 10:21 speaks of the place of the Jew in this; but Romans 11 places that piece of the plot, the Gentiles, into the same mould if they commit the same offence.
IV THE TWO REMNANTS ... ALL ONE Romans 11:6-12, 18-19, Galatians 3:28
Has then God just stamped out Israel ? Heaven forbid: He has always foreknown who are His, and always there has been an ELECTION OF GRACE, which means a CHOICE by grace of those who are His: for though He would have all (I Timothy 2), He is deceived by none, and knows who are His own (II Timothy 2:19). Even in that dire period of history, the day of Elijah, there was not only the prophet himself - there were 7000 who still believed in the Lord, actively and in heart. This grace is obviously the very reciprocal of work for pay, as a spiritual principle. That is one reason why the many who love to shove, and embrace their own imaginary merit, find the Gospel so hard, for they find themselves so noble!
If however you have this grace for your salvation (Romans 11:6), then it is not a matter of your works at all (though it is HIS work! and HE worked hard for it, to hand it on to His children). Indeed, if you have works as your basis, then clearly you are not saved by grace, but merely add or manufacture your own, and so are no part of the "remnant according to the election of grace."
Long rebellion has led to sleep, and Israel is in that case and will be till the time comes (Romans 11:25) for its awakening. That ? it is coming; for one day, and perhaps not too far down the race-course, you will see the Jewish section of our race, in large numbers, awake as one from a deep sleep. How delicious will that time be for all (Romans 11:15, Isaiah 66).
Meanwhile, let no Gentile imagine that his grand opportunity to be saved by grace only, with complete certainty, is a ground for boasting! Israel lost her spiritual place by lack of faith, and the Gentile world has the same coming to it! It is ONLY the election of grace who are His, those chosen by Him in and by and with His grace, who in love shows mercy with delight. Where the pleasure is for something else, it is like drinking a photograph of water. It merely sticks in the throat.
When however the vast tract of Israelites returns, returns to the Lord, in this great rapprochement of history, what is the unity there! Meanwhile, already from many courses they come. Pray for us all to be welcoming to all who return to the Lord. Thus seek out those who believe according to His word, by grace only, through faith in Christ, the worker who did the works, who trust Him according to His word, and seek fellowship in the bond of peace, in the unity of the Spirit (Romans 12:18, Ephesians 4:3, 4:15).