Romans ◦ Chapter 11
1I ask then: Did God reject the people whom he chose as his helpers in revealing his plan of saving the world? Absolutely not! I am an Israelite myself–a genetic descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.2God did not reject the people he chose as his helpers in revealing his plan, but he foreknew that only some would trust him. Don't you realize what the Scripture says about Elijah–that he thought he was the only one left in all Israel loyal to God? He said to the Lord:3"Lord, they have killed all your prophets and representatives, and torn down all your altars; I am the only one left loyal to you, and they are trying to kill me!"4And what did God tell him? "There are seven thousand who remain loyal to me and have not bowed the knee to Baal."5So too, at the present time — even though the officials of Israel have rejected God's healing plan, even though the majority of the people he chose as his helpers to reveal his healing plan have rejected it — there remains a remnant of Abraham's descendants who have accepted the truth about God and his gracious Remedy, and who have been restored to trust.6And if they have been restored to trust through God’s grace, then it is no longer by some work or effort to earn favor with God; if it were, then God’s graciousness would not be gracious at all.7What, then, does this mean? That Israel as a nation did not achieve the reunification with God they sought, except for a few individuals. What Israel sought to earn by working to induce God to be gracious, actually caused them to misunderstand God, become self-sufficient and arrogant, and fail in obtaining restoration with God. But those who trusted God, based on the truth as revealed in Jesus, obtained God’s gracious gift of healing and restoration. The others, instead of being healed and restored, were hardened,8as it is written: "When they rejected truth, God gave them over to a dull mind: eyes trained to no longer recognize truth and ears tuned to no longer hear truth; and this goes on to this very day."9And David says: "May what they rely on for strength and sustenance be revealed as a snare and a trap, the actual cause of their stumbling and the source of their pain.10"May the result of their rejection of truth damage their minds so they can no longer comprehend; may their characters be so twisted by persistent rebellion that they will not reform."11So, again I ask: Did they stumble and fall so low that they are beyond recovery? Absolutely not! Rather, because of their transgression, the privilege of joining God’s spiritual health-care team has come to the Gentiles–in order to inspire the descendants of Abraham to accept God’s healing and rejoin his team.12But if their failure to fulfill the mission God assigned them means riches and opportunity for the rest of the world, and their lost position means that their mission was given to the Gentiles, how much greater will the richness of love and grace be if they accept the truth and fulfill their mission!13I am talking to you, Gentiles: I am the apostle to the Gentiles, and I take my responsibility to you seriously.14I hope that by leading you to trust God — and thus to experience the healing, love, peace and joy that reconciliation with God brings — I may somehow arouse my own people with a desire for this same experience, and maybe some of them will respond and be saved.15For even though they rejected the truth that brings trust, reconciliation and life eternal, this healing truth was still revealed to the world. What would have happened if they had accepted the truth? -An unbelievably powerful revelation of God's character, methods and principles seen in action would have transformed the entire world!16If the ingredients used to make the loaf are untainted and pure, then the entire loaf will be perfect and healthy. If the roots of the tree are pure and unpolluted, then every branch and all the fruit will be perfect and healthy.17If some of the branches have broken off from the vine, and you — though not natural to the vine — have been grafted in and now share the nourishment from the root,18don't feel that you are somehow superior to the branches that have broken off. If you do, remember this: The root does not draw sustenance from you, but you are nourished by the root.19You might try to argue, "But we must be something special, because the natural branches were broken off to make room for us."20Don't be ridiculous. They broke away because they did not trust, and you were grafted in because you did trust. Don't be conceited, but be afraid of conceit or pride, or anything that will undermine your abiding trust in God.21For if God did not stop the natural branches from distrusting and breaking away, he will not restrict your freedom to break away either.22Consider how kind and gracious, and how true and consistent God is. He is true and consistent to the principles of love and freedom, and forces no one to remain connected to him, but allows those who choose to break away to do so if they insist. He is kind and gracious to you, allowing you to abide in his goodness. But if you choose to break away, you too will be permitted to sever your connection with him.23And if those who have broken away have a change of heart and again trust God, they will be reconnected to him, for God is able to heal them if they let him.24After all, if you — who were not originally attached to the vine — were successfully grafted in, isn't it a lot easier to reattach branches that were once part of the parent plant?25I want to explain to you this mystery–this unexplainable rejection of God's plan by Israel–so that you will not become conceited and make the same mistake: A large part of the genetic descendants of Abraham have hardened their hearts to God and rejected the truth as revealed by Jesus; therefore God's plan for Abraham's descendants will not be fulfilled until those hardened and broken off are replaced by a large number of Gentiles who are grafted in.26And so all true children of Abraham–those like Abraham in character, not in genetics–will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion: He will remove all selfishness and sin from everyone who trust God, like Jacob.27"And my promise to them is this: Complete healing from sin, and perfect restoration to my original ideal."28As far as the good news about God and his plan to heal and restore, they are enemies of God and oppose his healing plan; but as far as God's loving attitude and desire to reach them and heal them — they remain loved just as in the times of the patriarchs,29for God's love and gracious, forgiving character are unchangeable.30Just as you, who were at one time infected with distrust of God and dominated by selfishness, have now found the mercy that could have been theirs if they would have been willing to listen and obey,31so they, who now distrust God and are dominated by selfishness and therefore don't listen to God, may still receive God's mercy and come to trust him again as they see what God has done for you.32For from God's perspective, all humanity is infected with the same illness of distrust and selfishness, and the entire human race is dying and in need of the same Remedy; and God mercifully offers full healing and restoration to all who trust him.33Oh, the magnitude of the worth and value of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How infinite is his intelligence; and his method of governing is beyond the ability of humans to reproduce!34"What created being can know what God is thinking? Who would ever presume they could share with God wisdom or insights that he doesn't already know?35"Who has ever provided God with something that didn't come from him to begin with? Who could ever have God indebted to them?"36 For it is from God that all things exist. To him be glory forever! Amen.