To Him Be the Glory Forever!—Romans 11:33-36

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" (Romans 11:33-36)

It is amazing that Paul stops shortly after finishing his radiant expose of where the Jews fit into God's salvation plan to praise God for who he is. Taking a moment to reflect and think through how this plan has unfolded since the beginning of time warrants a thankful heart toward God. Nothing in all of creation has ever caught God off guard because his judgments and unfathomable wisdom have proved to be perfect in all things.

God's plan of redemption was brilliant. From the very beginning of time He utilized Christ to reconcile the world to himself. Even before there was a world, mankind or sin, Christ was purposed and foreordained as the perfect spotless lamb of God to be our sin substitute ( I Peter 1:19-20 ). God knew what would happen with the creation of man, sin would seep in and ruin the paradise He created, but even despite this knowledge He chose to create us. God knew Israel would reject him as their Messiah, but he still sent Jesus to the cross as the ransom for many.  Because in his infinite wisdom and knowledge he had the plan all worked out, he knew the end from the beginning and he knew what he would do to bring the world back to himself.

Reflecting over this amazing word will bring you to where Paul was, the point of celebrating God. Understanding everything he has done for us creates the desire to thank him and rejoice in him in all things. Everything he planned and purposed for our benefit from the beginning of time, no one understood. They watched them unfold and saw through prophecies what would be given through Christ Jesus. Many looked forward in anticipation to this time, calling those who lived after Christ, blessed and highly favored because of the infinite grace we have received through Jesus ( Psalm 32:1-2, Romans 4:6-8 ).

Now these hidden mysteries that were kept secret for generations are now revealed to us through the Holy Spirit. "However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God" ( I Corinthians 2:9-10 ). Now through Christ, what was once hidden and kept secret is freely revealed to us by God's spirit living inside us. We can now look at the things he has done and understand them a completely different way. "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ" ( I Corinthians 2:16 ). This enables us to freely understand God's purpose and plan for our lives. We can also read the truth of the word and understand it on this basis, that the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God and reveals them to our spirit so we can understand what God has freely given us. We have the mind of Christ to lead us into all truths.

What a fabulous God we serve; so amazing, so complete and so loving. No wonder Paul started to praise God after writing this wonderful word and remembering all of the magnificent things he has done in bringing mankind back to himself. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" Today, I join with Paul and the millions of saints rejoicing in God our Father through the Lord Jesus Christ for the riches of blessings we have received in him, amen and so be it!

God Has Mercy on All—Romans 11:30-32

"Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all" (Romans 11:30-32)

Mercy is a wonderful theme throughout the entire Bible. God has dealt with mankind in leniency and compassion since the beginning, but his expression of mercy was in the person of Jesus Christ. This is because Jesus brought into reality the forgiveness of sins so we could be reconciled to God once for all.

Once we were disobedient and rebellious toward God. But in spite of that defiance He showed us his mercy, "at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" ( Romans 5:6 ). This was a complete act of mercy on God's part. We were helpless and condemned because sin had ruined us. God did what we could not do by sending Jesus in our stead; he did this out of love. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" ( Romans 5:10 ). This mercy is offered to us even though we were disobedient to God and his precepts.

Understanding God's mercy toward us is what brings us to Christ to be justified by him. Romans 2 says, it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance ( Romans 2:4 ). In other words, it is the goodness of God, his love, his mercy and his compassion that brings us to him. Repentance simply means to turn around and go the other way. So when we experience the mercy and goodness of God we abandon the rebellious direction in which we are walking and turn 180 degrees toward God to follow after Him. When we turn to God and accept his message of grace we receive his mercy that also brings us into right relationship with Him.  This is the good news of the gospel, that we are reconciled to God based on his mercy and grace.

The Jews at present are disobedient to God's message of the cross. At one time they were inside of his covenants but became outsiders to the promise when they rejected Jesus as their Messiah. They looked at the cross as foolishness and walked away from it. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" ( I Corinthians 1:18 ). In their disobedience they walked away from the long awaited promise of God and his saving power through faith in Christ. The cross is so simple yet so profound, but the message of the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews. They are steeped in tradition and law and looking to Jesus as their savior seems too simple.  But its simplicity is what holds such incredible power. "We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength" ( I Corinthians 1:23-25 ).

The Jews have experienced this hardening toward God on our account so that we can come to him in faith ( Romans 11:25 ). But they too in the end will return to God and find mercy through Christ. The purpose in this is that God's mercy will be displayed on all mankind alike, both to the Jews and the Gentles. We all know what it is like to be an outsider because of our sin nature and then we too will all know what it is like to find reconciliation with him based solely on his grace toward us. This is experiencing God's mercy first hand.  We all must come to him in the very same way, through faith in Christ Jesus, and then He personally opens the door and welcomes us into his family.

Today, I rejoice in His brilliant plan for mankind. I am thankful that God sent Jesus to bring us into relationship with him. His mercy is incredible and his grace is abundant. My prayer today is that you experience this life changing mercy that is freely offered to you in the person of Jesus. I pray that His grace brings fullness of joy into your life, amen.

God's Gifts and His Call Are Irrevocable—Romans 11:28-29

"As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable" (Romans 11:28-29)

Paul said in both Corinthians and Galatians that if someone preaches a different gospel other than the one he preached, it was corrupt and far from the truth ( II Corinthians 11:3-4, Galatians 1:6-9 ). Paul preached Christ, Christ crucified and Christ raised again. Christ was its foundation. He preached that through Christ's sacrifice we have been made perfect by faith. He made much of this grace message because this truth is the means whereby we are justified before God, having our sin cancelled and forgotten. This is the good news of Christ Jesus and hearing this message brings saving faith.

However this message gets distorted all the time and that is why Paul warns about straying from the gospel message he preached, based solely on Christ, him crucified and raised again. Otherwise, we are at risk of falling into a completely different gospel that takes Christ out of its center. There are several reasons this happens, one is ignorance of the scriptures and not knowing the truth of God's word. Secondly, some distort the message out of deceptiveness to lead people away from Christ and lastly, simply being "religious" can hinder you from this message of Christ.  This happens when you no longer look to Jesus as the means for relationship with God but instead look to yourself and what you can do for Him. Paul said in today's passage that those contrary to the gospel are enemies of God.

Concerning Israel and the gospel, Paul said that they too are enemies on our account. Fortunately we know that this is a temporary thing because up until this time they have experience a hardness to this message of grace ( Romans 11:25 ). This is for our benefit because salvation was then opened up to the entire world ( Romans 11:12, Romans 11:15 ). So currently they are against the gospel and therefore enemies of God, but from the viewpoint of God's divine election and choice, they are still very dear to him. We must keep this in mind and look forward to the time when the full understanding of God is revealed to the Jewish nation and they turn to Jesus as their Messiah and cornerstone.

This is an awesome truth and one that bring us further understanding of God. He has chosen the nation of Israel as his own and he remains true to that choice even after their rejection of Jesus. Paul said in today's passage that "God's gifts and his call are irrevocable" ( Romans 11:29 ). Once decided, God does not change his mind. This is a comforting thought. James said, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" ( James 1:17 ). There is security in knowing that God does not waver and change his mind like man does. You can be confident before him because he is not subject to whims and moods. He does not change like shifting shadows and so we can rest assured in those things he has promised. Hebrews says, "it is impossible for God to lie" ( Hebrews 6:18 ). If he spoke it, then he will carry it out unto completion. He has chosen Israel as a nation set apart for him and he remains true to choice. Even though they are enemies from the viewpoint of the gospel, they are beloved and dear to God for the sake of their forefathers.

This is great news for us today. God never withdraws his calls or gifts once they are given and he will not change his mind about who he offers his grace to. Even if we mess up greatly in life, God still does not revoke his call. His grace is more than enough for us no matter how we have failed. Remember; the gospel Paul preached had Christ at the epicenter and when we shift our focus to him then it takes the burden of our mess off us and places it on Christ who has the power to remove it as far as the east is from the west.

Today, I am thankful that God is faithful and true to His word. I am thankful that he does not resend his grace and calling. I am overjoyed that his grace is more than enough for us to continue through this life. May this revelation of grace bless you, amen.

All Israel Will Be Saved—Romans 11:25-27

"I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins" (Romans 11:25-27)

It would be easy to look upon Israel and condemn them for rejecting Jesus, but Paul said they have experienced an insensibility to the gospel on our account until the full number of Gentiles come to the Lord. Does this mean that the Jews are not saved? Paul did not want us to be unaware of this truth and although it seems difficult to understand we have been advised in the revelation of this mystery so that we will not become conceited in our position of grace.

As a whole, Israel has experienced a hardness of heart concerning Jesus. They do not see him as the promised Messiah. They are relying on the Law and what they do for God to be right with Him instead of relying on His grace. It appears that for the most part they have missed out on the long awaited Messiah. However Paul explained earlier in this passage that there was currently a remnant of Jews saved by grace ( Romans 11:5 ). Jews, who saw Jesus as the Messiah, and have put their trust solely in him.

Paul went on to explain that their rejection of Jesus blessed the entire world, because salvation was then opened up to the Gentiles where previously, they were excluded and outside the promises of God ( Romans 11:11, Romans 11:15 ). He encouraged us by telling that if their transgressions meant riches for the world, their final acceptance of the Christ would bring about a greater blessing for us ( Romans 11:12, Romans 11:15 ). Now we can understand that Israel is experiencing a temporary hardening to the truth of Christ until the full number and last ingathering of the Gentiles come in. Then, all Israel will be saved.

Does this mean the entire nation of Israel will be saved whether or not they believe in Jesus? No, it means that the temporary blindness that they are experiencing as a nation will be removed and we will see God moving mightily among them as they turn to him and put their trust in him.  He will reveal to them the truth of Christ and reconcile the reality of the scriptures to them. Paul quoted from the Old Testament scripture when he said, "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins" ( Romans 11:27, Isaiah 59:20-21 ). He will remove godlessness from among them by revealing himself to them. No longer will they need to adhere to the law, they will have the perfect law of Christ written on their hearts. Jeremiah said, "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel  after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'  because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." ( Jeremiah 31:33-34, Hebrews 8:8-12 ). When Israel finally understands Jesus is the Christ, then we will see a great movement within this nation to return to the Lord and the result will bless the entire world by their faith.

Israel must come the Jesus the same way we do, by faith; by placing our entire hope in him to save us. They are loved on account of the patriarchs and they are chosen and called out from the world, but the truth is in Christ alone. Even now there is a remnant of Jews chosen by grace. God promised, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" ( Jeremiah 29:13 ). For those who are looking to God in the right motive of the heart he will reveal himself to them and what he reveals is always Jesus. Hebrews says, "that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" ( Hebrews 11:6 ). He is speaking of faith and we know that "And without faith it is impossible to please God" ( Hebrews 11:6 ). And so Israel must come to God through faith in Jesus alone.

Today, I am blessed to understand this truth. I am excited to see the nation of Israel returning to the Lord and finding salvation in Jesus. "For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." ( Acts 4:12 ). Amen!

Regrafted into the Olive Tree—Romans 11:23-24

"And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!" (Romans 11:23-24)

What a miracle it was that God took wild branches and grafted them into a cultivated olive tree to grow together as one. This transformation is what happens when we come to Christ. II Corinthians says, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" ( II Corinthians 5:17 ). What we were previously is gone and what we are now is what Christ is. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" ( II Corinthians 5:21 ). Our new identity is the same as Christ's identity, God looks and sees us as holy, righteousness and free because that is what Christ is.

This is the miracle of salvation. If we who were Gentiles by birth can experience this miraculous thing, then it only makes sense that Israel can also experience this new birth. Right now Israel as a whole has not accepted Jesus as their Messiah. However, Paul said that if they do not persist in clinging to their unbelief concerning him, they too will be grafted into the vine. Once they realize that Jesus is the savior then God is able to include them once again into the promise spoken to Abraham ( Romans 4:16, Romans 9:8 ). They too will be counted as children of God through faith in Christ.

What a marvelous message of grace this is. The main underlying point is that God loves us and hopes that we will accept him by faith. He knew we were incapable of coming to him of our own accord and so he reconciled the world to himself through Christ Jesus ( II Corinthians 5:19 ). This gospel message has been proclaimed unto the ends of the earth and the promise remains that, "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" ( Romans 10:13 ).

Through faith in Christ both Jews and Gentiles now become the church. Paul encourages us that now "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" ( Galatians 3:28-29 ). What a powerful truth to know that through Christ we are in one accord, clothed in Christ, and belonging to God. He has joined us into the vine granting life sustaining nourishment.

Today, I am thankful for God's mercy and grace. I am thankful for his enduring patience and forbearance while he waits for everyone to come to him. Today, may you praise God with a thankful heart for his miracle of salvation freely given to us in Christ Jesus, amen.