Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Don't Distort the Grace of God!

Part 6 of Questioning God

Text: Romans 11:11-24

Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off (v. 22). 


Romans 9-11 is about Israel. You might be wondering, “What does this have to do with us?” It actually has a lot to do with us!
  • If God has broken his promises to Israel, how can we trust God’s promises (e.g., the promises in Romans 8) to us (i.e., the church)? In Romans 9-11, Paul argues that “the word of God has failed” (9:6). God has not broken his promises to Israel, and he will not break his promises to us. 
  • In Romans 11, Paul warns that we could be “cut off” (v. 22) from “the olive tree” (v. 17)—a metaphor for the people of God—if we don’t continue believing. How should we understand this warning? 


In verse 13, Paul speaks directly to Gentiles. The church in Rome was comprised of both Gentiles and Jews, and there was probably tension between the two groups. The Gentile believers needed to be careful about not having a distorted view of grace.
  • Grace doesn’t give us a reason to be arrogant about our salvation (vv. 17-20). 
  • Grace doesn’t give us a reason to be presumptuous about our salvation (vv. 21-23). 
Is the warning of verse 22 a pretend warning? No. Is there a contradiction between this warning and the promises concerning the eternal security of believers? No.

Part of the answer is that some people appear to be believers, but later reveal their true nature. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plan that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19).

The Bible teaches both the preservation of the believer and perseverance of the believer. “God infallibly saves, but we are fully responsible to respond to his grace in such a way that that infallible salvation does finally transpire” (Douglas J. Moo, Romans, 375).
  • “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b-13). 
  • “…if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heart” (Col. 1:23a). 
  • “For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labour would be in vain” (1 Thess. 3:5).

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