CHOSEN BY GRACE
Continue to work in and with me Lord, because I love you, and desire to serve you fully.
Read ROMANS 11:1–10
The Remnant of Israel
11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[a]? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”[c]
9 And David says:
“May their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.”[d]
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Think of this description as being about yourself. What does it mean for you that you are ‘chosen by grace’ (v 5)?
Can God give up on his people? Through the previous chapters, Paul has been expressing his grief that the Israelites – the chosen, privileged people of God – have rejected the Messiah and the way of grace.1 Like the prophets of old, Paul has told them the bad news. Now, we hear the voice of the pastoral theologian seeking to help them understand. Paul is an Israelite too and shares the Jewish story (v 1). He questions these Jewish Christians of Rome. No, God has not rejected you – but there is a new way (v 5).
Paul reminds his listeners of Elijah who felt so alone yet discovered that there were some who had stayed faithful to God (vs 2–4). Always, through the checkered history of God’s people, there are those who continue to seek him. God does not give up; he remains faithful. Now, this ‘remnant’ comprises the Christian Jewish believers (v 5), but their acceptance by God depends, as it does for all believers (Jew or Gentile), on grace, not works (v 6). For Jewish Christians this new culture is not one to which it is easy to adjust – as Paul’s later writing about the strong and weak in faith will show.2
Paul does not go gently on hard truths. Many Israelites have rejected God’s Messiah (v 7). As prophets of old had said, they would not understand, they would not ‘see’ (vs 8,9). As a result, they have condemned themselves to carrying the heavy load of laws which leave them ‘bent for ever’ (v 10). The good news is, that all believers have been set free by the grace of God who remains faithful to his people. In the midst of our struggles to understand, the truth is that God knows us as his own (v 2).
Pray for all who are not Christians that they will seek and find Christ. Thank God that he accepts you, knows you, and has chosen you by grace.
Dear Jesus, when I contemplate who you are, I am stunned into silence. But I cannot stay there: I want to shout words of praise. Hallelujah, how great you are.
1 Rom 9:1–5 2 Rom 14:1 – 15:13
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