The Extravagant Gift of Inclusion

  1. Message: In chapter 11 Paul explains that God temporarily hardened the hearts and blinded the eyes of the Jews to make them jealous and to open salvation to the gentiles first. Jesus actually gave a parable about this in Luke 14 when he described a man who prepared big feast and invited an A-List of guests, but when the feast was ready the A-List guests all made excuses for why they couldn’t come. The host sent his servants out into the streets to invite the poor, crippled, lame and blind. When there was still room they invited everyone else. As gentile believers, we are the “other people” that were invited because the “A-Listers” didn’t show up. Paul was warning the gentiles not to become arrogant or conceited over the blindness of the Jews because the Jews were the promise and the intended guests. God had intentionally blinded them after generations of their unfaithfulness to him but this is not forever. Paul used an example of a native olive tree with unnatural branches grafted in and some of the natural branches removed. He warned them that they (and we) could be removed just as easily as the natural branches if they (we) become arrogant like they were. I think it’s also important to note in here that not all of Israel was blinded. Verse 3 references back to the prophet Elijah crying to God that he was the only one left after King Ahab and his wife Jezebel had turned the people to Baal worship and were trying to kill Elijah. God told Elijah “I have left 7000 men for myself that have not bowed their knee to Baal”. In all of the generations of Israel that were described as rebellious in general, there were always a remnant of faithful ones. The disciples of Jesus who became apostles were leading the remnant of Jewish followers of Jesus during the time Paul was writing this. I believe the point of this is to remember that the Jews took for granted that they were the chosen ones and God blinded them and made an example out of them because of their pride and unfaithfulness. We have to be careful too because we have been given a gift of grace. We are not supposed to take that grace for granted or live in defiance of change. We can just as easily become blinded and our hearts hardened just like the Jews if we take for granted the gift of grace by living on our own terms. The Jews were temporarily blinded by God and we were invited in, but God has not stopped loving them and he will not leave them out of the promise.
  2. Command: Salvation was expensive and God does not treat it lightly so we need to treat it as a gift and not a right.
  3. Promise: God didn’t leave us out and he will not leave out or give up on his promised ones.
  4. Warning: After a while salvation can feel like a right instead of a gift. WE have to be careful that we never treat it like it was owed to us.
  5. Application:  I don’t believe God wants us to doubt our salvation or live in fear of losing it, but he does expect us to honor the extravagant gift of grace that he gave us by living extravagantly for him.

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