Thursday, 11 July 2013

Salvation to the Gentiles

Romans 10:19-21 (NIV)
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says,
“I will make you envious by those who are not a nation;
I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”
 And Isaiah boldly says,
“I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”
 But concerning Israel he says,
“All day long I have held out my hands
to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
 Previously Paul has been proving that God has not only offered salvation to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. This is his final round of proof before we start chapter 11, and I found it quiet encouraging to read this morning.

The Jews had rejected God throughout their history, but at the pinnacle of their rejection of God is their rejection of his son Jesus. They worshiped false gods, trusted in their own righteousness and ignored their creator and saviour. As a result God also rejects them. Through Jesus he fulfills his promise of salvation, not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles. Not to all of them, but to those who genuinely seek him and follow him. To those he chooses.

God finds us, we don't find him.
What I found encouraging is that we (both Jews and Gentiles, but especially Gentiles because throughout history we haven't known God or his plan) did not seek or know God. We did not understand his plans and we rejected him. Yet he revealed himself to us - he sent his one and only son, Jesus (who is fully God), to die for us and to take away our sin if we turn to him. How do we turn to God? He has to reveal himself to us.

We didn't seek God. Historically the Gentiles did not know God, how could they seek him? But God in his mercy and grace and love not only showed us his character but also provided a way for us to be saved. He then sent the apostles into the world to tell people. We didn't look for God, he found us and saved us. We didn't save ourselves, it was 100% entirely his work which saved us.

Consequently we don't have to worry about losing our salvation if we are truly Christians. We don't have to worry that we will sin so badly that God won't forgive us. We didn't deserve forgiveness in the firs place - we can't deserve it less because we've already stuffed up. It's entirely God's grace and mercy, not anything in us which has saved us.

God is Patient, but he will Judge.
What does v21 say? “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” God was and is patient with Israel, and he is patient with us. He could judge the earth right now, but he hasn't for two reasons:
  1. Because his time isn't right yet and he hasn't called in all the elect
  2. To show his patience and mercy to all who are rejecting him and will not turn to him, giving them time to repent even though they won't do so. 
God shows his mercy for us by being patient with us, even with those who have rejected him. But the day is growing old and his mercy will come to an end. Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. Those who continue to reject him, to live in sin - stubborn and rebellious towards God - will face his wrath eternally. Those who turn to him, who run into his arms for refuge will be saved.To those who turn to Christ, our sins are already forgiven. Jesus paid the price on the cross, taking our sin and the wrath of God that we deserved for them. To those who are not Christians: Stop rejecting God! Repent and Believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand! (Mark 1:15) Only Jesus can save, only he can take our sin and God's punishment for it.
Psalm 34:21-22
Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
 
 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

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