Archive for September 6th, 2019

Romans 11:16-21

In Romans 11:16-21 Paul paints a picture based on the fact that those who were early believers were mostly Jewish – the apostles and most of the writers of the Bible. And if the conversion of those patriarchs or early Christians is good, then it is good for all who come to know the Messiah and become part of that tree. “If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.” We are not made holy in our own efforts or by our own work. We are made holy as we are connected to the One who is holy and allow His shed blood to cleanse us from all sin.

It is the root of Jesus that makes us holy. With the picture of the tree and the branches, Paul reminds the Gentile Christians that it is only by God’s grace that they can be grafted into the “tree” of God – the “root” of which is His chosen. “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” There is nothing to boast about on our part. We are merely allowed to connect to the true source of light and life.

Any Gentile standing in the “tree” of God is there by faith only, not by works or personal effort. If Gentiles are unbelieving, they will be “cut off” just as much as unbelieving Israel was. It is by faith we are saved and attached to the Messiah. “Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Those who do not believe, be they Jew or Gentile, will stand on their own before God someday. Faith is the connection to the tree. It’s not us, it is God who allows us to be attached. “That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.”

And Paul is very clear that there is no gray area when it comes to salvation and eternity. We cannot sort of be attached to Jesus. We can’t be connected when it is convenient or fits a current need or situation. Being grafted to the tree is ongoing and not something that can change based on circumstance or desire. We either are, or we aren’t. We either walk in faith with Christ, or we don’t. It isn’t something that comes and goes like a feeling or the wind. It is all or nothing – we either are connected via faith or we aren’t. And if we choose not to be – the consequences are clear and non-negotiable. “For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”

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