The other day on My Worldview Pages someone brought up a sermon of Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, on Replacement theology. That sermon stuck in my craw, because I just can’t believe that a man with the credentials of Dr. Lloyd-Jones would take Scripture so badly out of context, and yet he sure has.
I think an in-depth study of Romans 11 does away with the idea that God is done with physical Israel. So, let’s have a look, shall we?
First-off, notice that Paul points out that there never has been a time when all Israel has been saved, but only a remnant;
1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, 3Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. 5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Notice “at this present time there is a remnant”. What is the present time? It is the Church-age. And, doesn’t the use of “present time” imply that there is another time coming? So isn’t he saying that only a small number, a remnant, will be saved at any one time, throughout the Church-age? Then it follows that the time when “all Israel shall be saved” must be at another time, after the Church-age.
Verse 6 points out that salvation is by grace, not works, and Israel has been seeking salvation by works.
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
The “election” here are the elect of Israel, the remnant of believing Jews, the same as it ever was. He is saying that nothing really has changed, but he goes on to say that the day is coming when it will. A day is coming when all of natural Israel will be saved. This is a repeat of prophecies from the Old Testament, which indicates that God will keep his word.
The anti-Semites in the Catholic, and Reformed, crowds don’t think that God will do this, but keep on…
Verses 9 and 10 simply repeat what he has already said in 7-8, for emphasis.
Notice in verse 11 that the salvation of the Gentiles is meant to provoke Israel to jealousy.
Here’s the thing; Israel cannot see the salvation of the Gentiles today. They do not see that Gentile believers have any more special status with God than they. Last year there were over 3,000 Christians killed for their faith around the world. I’m not certain, but I don’t think there were that many Jews who suffered the same fate, last year. Christians suffer illness and disease, they are victims of crime, and they have to work hard to make a living. To a Jew, how does this show God’s favour on the Church?
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
You see, there is a time coming, after the fullness of the gentiles come in, when the fullness of Israel will also come in! The fullness here is a direct reference to Israel’s national salvation, which will occur at a future date.
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
So Paul, here, is telling us that he hopes to save some of his Hebrew brethren in this present age, knowing that only a remnant of Israel will be saved as long as this age continues. He ends this section, however, with a comparison of the coming national salvation of Israel, to be like a resurrection from the dead. In other words, it will look, for a long time, like Israel is dead, spiritually, and then suddenly this dead nation will rise!
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
Jesus is the firstfruit, and His children get their holiness from Him. We have no holiness of our own, but what we have has been given to us. Therefore we have no cause to boast against those whom the Lord has pruned out of His tree.
Professing Christians who persecute Israel are disobeying a direct command of God. They have reason to fear.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
I know so many Christians who say a prayer, and then live like the world. Salvation is not something that should be taken for granted. These people are trusting their own prayer, like it was a magic incantation. That is not scriptural, nor is it Christian;
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12
Yeah, we are saved by faith, not works, but once saved we need to work for our Heavenly Father, to show outside, what is going on inside. This does NOT mean that we are to work for our salvation, nor does it mean that we are on our own, to figure out how to be saved!
So, being “cut-off” here does not mean that one can lose one’s salvation. It means that if you do not continue in the Word, if you do not persevere in following Jesus Christ, you were never saved to begin with. We human beings cannot tell if one is saved by appearances, but one who continues to act like a believer, right up to the point of death, is a true believer. Some may act like a Christian for a while, but when the going gets tough, they bail-out. God looks at the heart, and knows the condition thereof.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
As Jesus said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
Verse 25 is the centrepiece of the whole chapter;
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Up until now Paul has been telling us about Israel’s loss of position, but that this loss is only temporary. Now he tells us when Israel will be restored. The timing is important. Many have thought that they should be the one to lead Israel back to God, and have been frustrated by the results of their efforts.
Israel will be “hardened, in part, until the fullness of the Gentiles come in”. The “part” is a large part, in fact the vast majority of the nation.
The fullness of the Gentiles is a reference to the end of the Church-age.
Many professing “Christians” have been ignorant of this fact, and have acted arrogantly toward Israel, even to the point of participating in pogroms against the Jews. Martin Luther preached to the Jews, and when they would not receive the gospel he became very anti-Semitic, and ultimately died in an anti-Semitic rage. He didn’t understand this verse as it was meant to be understood. Had he done so, he would have been more patient with them.
Since the fullness of the Gentiles has not come in yet, why would he think they would accept his explanations? Their hearts are still hardened, and are prophesied to remain so, until the Church-age is over. I am not saying that Luther should not have preached to the Jews, of course Christians should attempt to give the gospel to members of Israel, but they should not expect more than a remnant to turn.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
The time when all Israel shall be saved is given in the context of the previous verse. You can’t divorce verse 26 from verse 25. All Israel shall be saved after the “fulness of the Gentiles come in”, and not before! As long as Gentiles are still being saved, the national salvation of Israel is a yet future event!
Which brings us to the current condition of the Christian Church. As we see an apostasy growing, and spreading around the world, the numbers of Gentiles coming in is declining. Nevertheless, Gentiles are still being saved, and so we know the Church-age is not over yet.
The Deliverer has indeed come out of Sion, but He has yet to turn ungodliness from Jacob.
Luther treated the Jews as enemies, and not as “beloved for the father’s sakes”, but so have many in the Church, even today. The recent “Christ At The Checkpoint” conference in Bethlehem is an example of professing Christians joining hands with God’s enemies, and hating rather than loving, the descendants of Jacob.
Many of the problems of numbers of professing Christians stem from the acceptance of unbiblical eschatological systems like Amillennialism, Preterism, and Post-millennialism. Those who accept these systems do not see any future for the nation of Israel. Because they believe there won’t be an earthly millennial reign, they have no frame of reference to put a saved nation of Israel.
If the current age is all the time there is left, and if Israel is not yet saved, when would a saved nation of Israel live?
The truth is that the bible does indeed teach that Jesus will reign on earth for 1,000 years, and saved national Israel, with the earthly Jerusalem as its capital, will be His seat of government. We can see then that Amillennialism, Preterism, and Post-millennialism are Satanic in origin, because they deny so much Scripture. This is a form of apostasy, and I would not be surprised to see the majority of the Church embracing these dangerous philosophies as we draw closer to the Tribulation period.
Notice verse 29 states that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”. God will not repent of the promises He has made to Israel. If He did He would be a liar!
Later on Paul makes a curious statement;
30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
I have often skipped over verse 31 when reading through this passage. I didn’t understand it. Then a few weeks ago someone on MWV mentioned this verse and I got to thinking about it;
Verses 5, 25-26, and 31 are referring to the same thing, yet how will Israel see the Church receive the mercy of God, in a way that will provoke them to jealousy?
In some 2,000 years Israel has not become jealous. I have heard some Christians say that “we will make Israel jealous by doing Christianity properly” as if there haven’t been any obedient Christians since the Apostles.
No. This is not what it means!
It is not up to the Church to provoke Israel to jealousy, it is up to God, and He will do it when the fullness of the Gentiles have come in.
The phrase “through your mercy they also may obtain mercy” does NOT mean that by being merciful to Jews, they will be drawn as a nation to Christ. You have to take this verse in the context of the whole chapter, and indeed the context of the whole bible. (Christians should be kind to Jews, but this is not what the passage is referring to)
“Your mercy” is a reference to God’s mercy toward both Jewish and Gentile believers in the event commonly referred to as “the Rapture”, the great snatch. In other words “your mercy” is mercy that is yours, or belonging to you.
When the nation of Israel sees that God has been merciful to the Christian believers, by taking them directly to Heaven without dying first, then they will begin to realize that they had been wrong to reject Jesus Christ. They will become jealous of God’s mercy toward the Church, and many of them will receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. By then it will be too late, they will be truly saved, but will have to go through the Great Tribulation, but they will have Jesus to protect them.
This event is the end of the Christian era, and the beginning of the last seven years of Israel’s allotted time, from Daniel 9:26.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
As the Church draws closer to the great apostasy, how are the people of the world going to hear the gospel? The true gospel? God’s plan is that Israel will take-up where the Church leaves-off. The Purpose Driven, Emergent, and Word of Faith camps are not preaching the biblical gospel, and leave much to be desired, but these camps are growing. God, on the other hand, desires that people would be saved.
As I have studied Scripture I have come to the conclusion that the Tribulation period will be the time when the highest percentage of humanity will be saved. Since the Church is going apostate, this will be the time when the task will fall back to Israel to pick up the slack. They will rise to the task.