Romans 11 – God's Plan

Reading Romans 11 is difficult for many people, because they think, “How could God possibly blind the Israelites on purpose? What is it with the choosing and the elect and the hardening . . . is God really this unfair?

Well, chapter 11 does start out with a message that seems to say that God has chosen some for salvation and some for damnation. But I don’t think that’s what chapter 11 is saying. Vese 11, of chapter 11, says volumes about God’s character . . .

11So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. (ESV)

I like the way some other versions render this verse . . .

11Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. (NIV)

11The next question is, “Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?” And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. (The MESSAGE)

11So I ask, Have they stumbled so as to fall [to their utter spiritual ruin, irretrievably]? By no means! But through their false step and transgression salvation [has come] to the Gentiles, so as to arouse Israel [to see and feel what they forfeited] and so to make them jealous. (AMPLIFIED BIBLE)

In other words, God’s plan wasn’t to send them to hell, but His plan was to use their sin to bring Gentiles to salvation. Again, as in chapter 9, He shows us that He uses people where they are to accomplish His purposes. And later in the chapter Paul reiterates that it was not the Jews who believed that were condemned, but the ones who didn’t believe (they had a choice). Those who believed were saved by God’s grace, through faith, just like us. And Paul also says again that the branches that were broken off could be grafted back in! How? Simply by returning to God.

20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22Note then the kindness and the 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. 23And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

And Paul concludes chapter 11 by saying God wants everyone to be saved.

32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

So . . . the message is clear . . . if you have faith, you will be saved, no matter who you are.

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