The Election of Grace
(Romans 10 & 11)
Introduction: Paul reports that the Jews were "zealous for God," but that their zeal was "not based on knowledge." ( Romans 10:2) Have you seen Christians who are excited about being a Christian, but who don't understand God's word? We all have. That, however, seems an unlikely charge against the Jews. The target of Paul's comments studied God's written word. Pharisees, like Paul, memorized huge portions of the Bible. Somehow, they still missed the mark when it came to knowing God. Let's dive into our study today. We do not want to miss the mark when it comes to knowing and understanding God!
- End of the Law
- Read Romans 10:1. Last week we discussed the issue of "election" and God's "hardening" of human hearts. The question was whether everyone was eligible to be saved, or only those "elected" by God? What does this verse suggest? (Paul is praying that his fellow Jews be saved. If it were not possible because of election, I'm sure Paul would not waste his time.)
- Read Romans 10:2-3. I've never read that the Jews of Paul's time did not know their Bibles. Quite the contrary, they seemed to be diligent students of God's word. What did they miss? (They missed Jesus. Instead of knowing "the righteousness that comes from God" (which is Jesus) they "sought to establish their own" (which is keeping the law to be saved.)
- Paul uses a very interesting term. He says the Jews "did not submit to God's righteousness." If you keep the law to be saved, are you a rebel? Have you refused to submit?
- Read Romans 10:4. Are the Ten Commandments dead? If not, what does it mean when it says the law has seen its "end" because of Jesus? (The context shows that the idea of keeping the Ten Commandments as a means to salvation is dead. This was the problem tripping up the Jews. Instead of depending on the law, faith in Jesus "for everyone who believes" is the path to salvation.)
- Have the Ten Commandments lost all relevance to the life of the Christian? (Read Romans 7:12 and Romans 3:31. The answer is "no," the law is not dead. It is "holy, righteous and good." The problem with this great and holy standard is that without Christ's obedience on our behalf, the law only condemns us. Jesus has ended all argument that the law provides a means of salvation.)
- New Salvation
- Read Romans 10:5-8 and Deuteronomy 30:9-14. Was keeping God's law too difficult for His people? (If you read all of Deuteronomy 30, you will see that God asked His people to choose Him. God's people did not obey Him, and when Jesus came they did not choose Jesus, instead most rejected Him.)
- How can God say in Deuteronomy 30:11: "What I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach?" Isn't that the opposite of Paul's message that we cannot earn salvation by keeping the law? (Read Deuteronomy 30:19-20. This sounds much like Paul's challenge in Romans 8:12-14 to choose a life led by the Spirit and not a life led by our sinful nature.)
- Read Romans 10:9. What does this say about the ability of everyone to be saved? Are only some elected to salvation? (No.)
- Does it require a trip to heaven or to hell to be saved? (Paul tells us that some things have not changed. Choosing Jesus is right in front of us. It is a choice that each of us can make.)
- Read Romans 10:10. Why are both our heart and our mouth involved in the salvation process? (It is a matter of belief and a matter of declaration.)
- Read Romans 10:11-13. Does God harden the hearts of some so that they cannot believe? (No. Paul clearly writes "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." The "election" and "hardening hearts" discussion of Romans 9 was difficult to follow. Here, Paul makes the truth very clear: All who confess Jesus will be saved.)
- Making the Call
- Read Romans 10:14. What is Paul's challenge to us? (To tell others about Jesus so they have the opportunity to believe.)
- What does this text suggest about what it means to call on the name of Jesus? (Calling is not just the act of speaking. It means believing in Jesus.)
- Read Romans 10:15. Is telling others about Jesus our only obligation? (We need to help send others to bring the good news about Jesus.)
- Receiving the Call
- Read Romans 10:16-21. Why do people reject the good news of Jesus? (Pride. Obstinance. Rebellion.)
- Read Romans 11:1-4. Have God's chosen people now been rejected by God? Are they no longer elected for salvation?(This is further confirmation of the idea that all can choose salvation. Even though most of the Jews rejected Elijah's message, God did not reject His people. Instead, He knew those who still served Him.)
- Read Romans 11:5-6. If you are obeying the law to secure your salvation, it this just a small theological problem that is not that important? (No. Claiming grace is the means of "election" for salvation!)
- Read Romans 11:7-10. Oh no! Now we read that God made Israel dumb, blind and deaf when it came to the gospel - and if that were not enough, hardened their heart. Did these people have a desire to know God? (Paul says they sought salvation "earnestly!")
- Read again Romans 10:21. What is the only reasonable conclusion about free choice regarding salvation?
- Read Psalms 69:20-23. Whose heart is broken? (This is a Messianic prophecy. Psalms tells us that as Jesus was being crucified, "a table" was being put in front of the Jews. God gave the Jewish nation the greatest show of love and the greatest gift. Yet Jesus' love and sacrifice resulted in them hardening their hearts, and closing their eyes and ears to truth. This is how Paul can write "God gave them [the 'stupids']." This is not what God intended, but it is how the gift was received.)
- Read Romans 11:11-12. Once God's people hardened their hearts and closed their eyes and ears was their eternal destiny fixed? (No! Friend, just as Israel still had the chance to turn to Jesus, so we have the chance even if we have rejected Him in the past.)
- Read Romans 11:13-21. Of what should we be afraid? (We cannot be arrogant about our salvation by faith. Just as those who thought they could save themselves by works were arrogant, so we can become arrogant and lose our faith.)
- Read Romans 11:22. Is "once saved always saved" supported by Romans? (How could we be "cut out" of the salvation tree if salvation was a "once for all" decision?)
- Read Romans 11:23. Notice how God describes the mental state of the unbeliever. What is the default position: belief or unbelief? (I love this. Unbelievers "persist" in unbelief. It sounds like they make a continuing effort to resist belief in Jesus. I have a mental picture of pulling a donkey along - the donkey persists in resisting!)
- Read Romans 11:25-27. Is this a prophecy?
- What does the "full number of the Gentiles has come in" mean? (It sounds like the gospel being preaching to the entire world.)
- Before the Second Coming of Jesus, after the gospel is preached world-wide, will the Jewish nation be converted?
- Read Romans 11:28-31. What does this add to the idea of the conversion of the Jewish nation? (God's gifts and call are "irrevocable." The offer to accept Jesus as the Messiah stands. I view this as a prophecy, and look forward to a revival of Christianity in Israel. What Paul means by "all Israel" (v.26), I do not know.)
- Read Romans 11:33-36. How confidently can we say that we understand God? (Our job is to praise and trust God. While we should ever want to know God better, and try to learn all that we can, we need to understand that completely knowing and understanding God is "beyond our pay grade!")
- Friend, you have been elected by grace. Will you accept that election? Or, will you persist in rejecting grace and depending on your own works for salvation?
- Next week: Love and Law.