"Do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either" (Romans 11:18-21)
Israel experienced a hardening on the account of Jesus and as a result they were broken off from the promise. This made an opening for us to come to God and be grafted in by faith. Paul explains that they were broken off because of unbelief, not because God rejected them. Instead their unbelief caused them to reject Jesus and walk away from God's promised salvation. On the other hand we stand in faith before God accepting what Jesus has done to bring us into this position of grace and reconciliation. Faith in Jesus is what secures our future.
This is an important truth to understand. The message of grace has to be received and combined with faith to save us. Faith is an active step in receiving from God. This is explained in Hebrews, "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith" ( Hebrews 4:2 ). When the message of grace falls upon deaf ears then it does not produce salvation, because it has not been received and believed. This can only be accomplished by faith in the gospel message. Paul said in Ephesians, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast" ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ). It takes both grace and faith to be saved. Grace is what was offered freely through Christ. Faith comes by hearing this gospel message and believing it ( Romans 10:17 ). The two will always work together.
In the same way, to remain steadfast in the Lord we must continue firm in faith until the very end. If we do not remain in faith then we will slowly fall away from grace by choice. Paul reminds us that God did not spare the natural branches on the basis of unbelief, they chose to walk away from the message of Christ and in the same way, he will not spare us either if we do not continue in the faith that first saved us.
Hebrews says, "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first" ( Hebrews 3:12-14 ). By allowing sin and the world to creep in, we can be drawn away from God and his mercy. These things can deceive us and harden our hearts towards God and the message of grace. They will hinder and block faith, but Paul said in Colossians, "just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" ( Colossians 2:6-7 ). By continuing in the grace that you first learned and understood when you came to Christ you will be strengthened in faith, growing continuously in the Lord. You will not have to worry about falling away because of unbelief. Instead you will be rooted and established in Christ on the basis of faith and the grace he has provided for you.
Through faith in Jesus we have been grafted into the vine that gives everlasting life. We have been joined to Christ because he alone can save, sanctify and reconcile us to God. This is the gospel message and through faith, we have been chosen to be included in his family. Now we stand before him completely righteous and holy ( Ephesians 4:24 ).
Today I am thankful that I am included in the promise spoken to Abraham that I am a joint heir with Christ Jesus ( Romans 8:17 ) and a daughter of God through faith in him ( Romans 9:8 ). May you understand this amazing truth and be blessed and encouraged in your faith. May you stand firm in this truth and message of grace until the very end, amen!