“The Irrevocable God”
We spent several weeks in Romans 11:17-24, seeing how God has worked sovereignly and supremely in cutting off branches of unbelief in Israel and saving many Gentile, non-Jewish branches, which includes us, who are grafted into His Righteousness by the gift of His justification by faith. Last week, we looked at the condition of “Holy Branches,” that we cannot boast over our fusion into Christ, because it is a righteousness and an act of God, which is not our own.
1 Corinthians 1:30-31 declares clearly: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
Today we examine more of Romans 11, starting at verse 25: “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. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, (imagine how thrilled Paul is to be able to say this!) as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
God’s design for human history
In part, these verses are reminding us of WHAT has ALREADY happened in history: that God’s design for Human History still included Jews as well as Gentiles. It is no surprise to God that most of Israel has rejected the gift of righteousness by faith alone, in Christ alone; it is no surprise because God has created this condition by hardening Israel, until the full number of non-Jewish believers come to Him. We should never sit and wonder at Israel’s unbelief, but marvel at God’s grace toward us. But there will be a time when God will work powerfully within Israel and bring most them to an enormous revival to the truth of Jesus: “And so all Israel will be saved… The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
How can God KNOW that Israel will turn to Him? Is God waiting for Israel because He is limited by man’s human free will? Never. How can the Creator, Omnipotent, Omniscient God ever be limited by the creature? God’s Design for salvation and for the world is not accidental but ordained. God is not thwarted by anything that man possesses, yet today, the teaching of “Open Theism” says that God cannot know what men will decide and that He is limited by their choices. They say God is limited by man’s choices.
Does God look down the hallway of time and say, “I SEE the way things are going to happen, therefore I declare it to happen? Is God like a CNN analyst who looks at the way things are and then predicts an outcome? Not at all. God’s Design is not psychic; God’s design is SOVEREIGN. If you believe that God is Sovereign, then He is Sovereign over ALL THINGS, not just some things. Does God ORDAIN ALL things or not? Is the end of time and the building of His Church and Kingdom dependent on man’s FREE WILL? If THAT is the case, we indeed, live in perilous and uncertain times! NO. God is displaying HIS SOVEREIGNTY here. God is not a VICTIM.
HOW does God know about the future? How does God know that Israel WILL TURN to Him again? The reason that God KNOWS is because He has ORDAINED what will happen. The future of Israel is in the hands of God because HE alone HAS THE POWER to TURN ISRAEL from their unbelief, in the same way that He has turned YOU and has turned me from unbelief.
Look at Romans 11:28: “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; (We looked at this, most of the Jews are presently enemies of God and God is taking His Gospel to non-Jews) but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.”
God’s Character and His nature coincide perfectly with His Design and His Covenant. There is NEVER any inconsistency in God. Numbers 23:19 says it so plainly: “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, (a born-in –sin-human) that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” God is not HUMAN, God is God. He is not like us!
Did you ever say something that you wish you hadn’t said? As soon as it came out of your mouth, you thought, “Oh, I wish I hadn’t said that!” Did you ever make a promise that you wish you hadn’t made? Did you ever make a promise that you couldn’t keep? Have you ever made a promise, that from the beginning, you KNEW you wouldn’t be able to keep?
God's gifts (His “charisma” in the Greek, His gifts of grace) are irrevocable: God doesn’t say something and then wish He hadn’t, or give grace, and then want it back. He WILL NOT take back His gifts of grace. He doesn’t REVOKE His gifts. Irrevocable means “impossible to revoke”. It is impossible to repeal or annul what God has given. He doesn’t “REPENT” that He has given you His Grace. He will not revoke but REMEMBER His Covenant with Israel, and with you or me. The salvation He has given, He will not grab it back.
God’s call is irrevocable: There is NO difference between God’s call and God’s election. His call, His invitation, His election are all part of His GRACE-GIFTS. If you are saved according to grace, you’re held by the same grace. If God has ordained something, it cannot be revoked, and cannot fail. His call to us is the Gospel: Whoever calls upon and believes in the Lord Jesus will be saved.
We looked at this last week: I stand in God’s grace; I am held in God’s grace. My circumstances may change, but my standing with God doesn’t. I am being conformed every day, more and more into HIS image, and it is not by accident. It is intentional on His part, and it is intentional on my part. I am cooperating with His Spirit in me and His Word in every way that I can. I submit to His Spirit and Word in all things. When I fail, the Spirit urges, convicts, convinces, prods, pulls and redirects me, always holding on to me.
2 Timothy 1:8 Paul says: “Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” So when God promises and calls by grace, He delivers and holds by grace.
God’s Purpose: Reveal Mercy
Look at verses 30—32: “Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God (literally, “once you did not believe God) have now received mercy as a result of their (Israel’s) disobedience,
31 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. (Israel will look at believers in Christ’s Messiah-ship, and turn to God in repentance: It’s God’s plan, He will execute it.)
32 “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”
What is God’s Supreme Purpose and plan in the history of the world and in the salvation of Jews and Gentiles alike? Chapters 1-11 are summed up in verse 32. “For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” God’s purpose is that God’s mercy might be revealed.
Why have all men gone astray? Why is there not ONE who is righteous, not even one? Why did God harden Israel’s heart? Why do Romans 1-3 clearly teach us that everybody is guilty before the throne of God, Jew and Gentile alike? And that God provides a justification by the gift of Faith? So that God might reveal mercy to the guilty. Romans 1:21 says: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
In the same way that God is undeniably Sovereign God, sinful man is unmoved and not persuaded, even with a mountain of evidence… The word for “disobedience or disobedient” means obstinate opposition to God’s Divine plan. We actually get the word “apathy” from the Greek word, but disobedience to God is much stronger than our idea of apathy. The Greek word means that you are impersuasible. God is able to do what NO HUMAN MIND CAN COMPREHEND: God’s mercy persuades and saves the impersuasible. As Romans 9:16 says, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
Verse 32 is another verse which demonstrates so clearly the necessity of defining the CONTEXT, as well as the framework of a verse, and then understanding it light of ALL of God’s WORD. If you take this verse alone, as some do, you can promote a kind of universalism, that all people will be saved by God’s mercy; that would cancel out the first 11 chapters of Romans 11, and the majority of the New Testament.
Here is what this verse is saying: First of all, ALL have received the death sentence, but NOT ALL been condemned. All have been disobedient. No one has faith. No one can “drum up” saving faith. All try to justify their own sinfulness. All try to find their own way of salvation. All have become futile in their own thinking and have exchanged God’s glory for their own…AND YET God HAS NOT condemned all, but has save some. He has ALWAYS saved some…a REMNANT. Why? Because He chose to reveal His grace and mercy on SOME.
So here is the second part of understanding: To ALL who have received mercy, ALL of them WILL BE SAVED. He will not allow one to slip through the cracks of unbelief. Everyone who has received mercy, will persevere until the end, not because they are so good, but because God will not ALLOW EVEN ONE to be lost. God will show mercy to the FULLNESS of those He has chosen from Israel and to the FULLNESS of the Gentiles… and so ALL OF ISRAEL, the full number of ALL WHOM God will SAVE, will be saved by HIS MERCY…and no other reason.
After the power of personal pride and boasting has been destroyed by God’s mercy, the only thing that will stand is the awesome amplification and magnification of God’s free mercy and grace. Hell will be filled with people who fail to give glory to a deserving God, but Heaven will be filled with people who give glory to God alone, knowing that they deserve nothing but judgment, but instead, they have received God’s mercy.
God’s great aim in history is that disobedient people would come to the cross and glorify the Lord God for His great mercy. God loves us and saves us through His Son. He loves us through the Love of His Son. He adopts us IN CHRIST JESUS, so what can you possibly do? Come to the cross and behold the Son, who dies for you. Come to God through the Lord Jesus and beg for His mercy. Accept His mercy. Be astonished by His mercy. Be saved by His mercy.
I. God’s Design for Human History still includes Jews AND Gentiles. (25-27)
1. God’s Design is not accidental but ordained.
2. God’s Design is not psychic but SOVEREIGN.
II. God’s Character coincides perfectly with His Design and His Covenant. (28-29)
1 God's gifts are irrevocable: He will not revoke but REMEMBER His Covenant .
2. God’s call is irrevocable: God promises and calls by grace and He delivers and holds by grace.
III. God’s Purpose in salvation is that God’s mercy is revealed.(30-32)
1. God’s mercy persuades and saves the impersuasible. (Rom. 9:16)
2. ALL have received the death sentence, but NOT ALL been condemned.
3. To ALL who have received mercy, ALL will be saved.