Summary: This is the fourth of a series of sermons based on scriptures where a rhetorical question beginning with the phrase "Do you not know. . ." is asked. This sermon deals with the rhetorical question asked in Romans 11:2. "Do you not know what the Scripture
Series: Do You Not Know?
Sermon: God’s Keeping of His People
Text: Romans 11:1-5.
Romans 9-11 is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. I am not quite sure I’ve got it all figured out. God’s foreknowledge, His election, I mean it’s all so confusing. I think even the Apostle Paul was somewhat confused by it all. Look what he wrote in verse 33 of chapter 11:
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
I say, “Amen!” to that.
Fortunately, we don’t have to understand it all. There is enough that we can understand that we need not concern ourselves with what we cannot understand.
Has God Rejected His People, Israel?
By no means! As evidence: Paul says, “I’m an Israelite, God has not rejected me.” And his point is: Just because it looks like God has rejected Israel, doesn’t mean he has (Romans 11:1). God has not rejected those he foreknew (Romans 11:2).
Illustration: Elijah (Romans 11:2-4).
Elijah was a mighty man of God in terrible times (1 Kings 19:9-18). Elijah felt all alone. According to Elijah, he was outnumbered 450 against one (1 Kings 18:20-22). But in reality it was the prophets of Baal who were outnumbered: One (God) against Nothing (the false god Baal).
The contest on Mount Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal is one of my favorite stories from the Old Testament. Unfortunately, I must leave the telling of that story to another day. But let us note this: God gave Elijah a great victory that day. Even so, Elijah felt all alone.
The problem was Elijah was exhausted. He wasn’t eating right. He wasn’t sleeping right. He was running for his life, under a sentence of death by the queen’s edict. When you don’t eat right or sleep right and you’re burning the candle at both ends, you just don’t think right either. Look at 1 Kings 19:14. Elijah is right in every point but one. He was very jealous for the Lord of Hosts. The people had forsaken the covenant. The altars of God had been demolished. They had killed the prophets. They were seeking his life, to take it. But, he was not the only one left, although he thought he was.
But God set’s him straight. Remember God is in control. God has a plan. God will work his plan. You are not alone: God has a remnant who is faithful. Seven thousand out of the whole nation was not a lot. But it was a remnant; Elijah was not alone.
God’s Point: Not All Israel Is Elected; Only Those of Faith.
Paul made this point earlier: “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Romans 9:6-8).
Note Romans 11:7. Israel (in general) failed to obtain what it was seeking. But, the elect obtained it. The rest were hardened.
Note verses 22-23. Let us not have a lopsided view of God. He is kind to those who continue in his kindness. But he is severe with those who have fallen. He is severe with those who continue in their unbelief.
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace (Romans 11:5).
Google.com lists 282 LDS Churches in or near Pocatello. Then there’s us, and a few smaller congregations nearby. We’re not alone, but we certainly are a remnant.
Switchboard.com lists 97 churches in Pocatello, Chubbock and Fort Hall. Only one is a Church of Christ. But I wonder how many Christians are there in Pocatello that we know little or nothing about, who have for some reason chosen not to make themselves known to us?
What does it mean to be a remnant? To be a remnant means that we have been chosen by God. We are special to God. But, let us not get big headed—God’s choice is his. He has chosen us by grace, not merit. To be a remnant means that we have been commissioned by God. We’ve got a job to do. We’ve got to take the gospel to the entire world. But let’s begin right here, where we are. Let’s not limit our efforts to right here—let’s be mission minded. Have you ever been on a mission trip? Think about it. There are places in the world where the word of God is more readily accepted. If we cannot go ourselves, let’s support those who can with our prayers and with our finances. We may be small but we are not alone. Jesus told us that the road would be narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). Lot’s of folks are traveling down the other road. But it’s the wrong road. It doesn’t lead to where you want to go. And where it leads, you don’t want to go there. Follow the road less traveled; and take someone with you. And you who are walking down that narrow road yoked to someone who is going down the other road, our prayers are with you. We know it’s tough. We pray that the person you are yoked to will change their path. Standing by your faith because faith is what it’s all about. Without faith there is no hope. Faith is what connects us to God.