In Romans 11:17, Paul likens the people of God to a lovingly cultivated olive tree and acknowledges that some of the branches of this tree were broken off. These broken off branches represent the Israelites who rejected Jesus and thereby forfeited their true spiritual heritage. The wild olive branches represent the Gentiles who “became partakers with them of the rich root.” Unfortunately, some Gentiles take this truth as an occasion to exalt themselves over their Jewish brethren, so Paul responds to such pride by reminding us all of the grace by which we stand.
In Romans 11:1-6, we saw that God has sovereignly maintained a believing remnant in Israel even through her worst times of apostasy. In verses 7-10, we saw that Israel’s rejection was not complete, but only partial. In this sermon on verses 11-16, Paul helps us understand that Israel’s rejection is not final, but only temporary. The rejection of God’s own chosen people has resulted in the Gentiles being reconciled to Him. If we receive this incredible blessing through Israel’s rejection, how much greater will the blessings be when Israel is once again accepted in God’s sight on the basis of their faith in Christ!
In this Psalm we see a demonstration of the distinction between notional, and experiential knowledge. While intellectual knowledge is necessary, it is not sufficient. We are called to live out the truth in relationship to God, in Christ. To this end, the David shares his personal experience of the goodness of God, and then encourages his readers to partake of God in order to experience his goodness for themselves.
The final image we were left with in Romans 10 is that of God reaching out in compassion to Israel only to find them stubbornly and defiantly rejecting His offer of salvation. We are thus left with the question: “Will God wash His hands of them?” Paul’s emphatic answer is “May it never be!” Drawing upon his own personal testimony as well as the experience of the prophet Elijah, Paul reasserts that God will secure the remnant he has chosen for Himself among ethnic Israel.
In Romans 10:15, Paul had built up to a crescendo of praise to God for how He sent out preachers of the Word. But it is that triumph of the ministry of proclamation that makes the plight of lost Israel all the more grievous. Here in Romans 10:16-21, Paul returns the the subject of why Israel rejected their Messiah, and in their plight, we find the rebellious heart of all sinful men exemplified, as well as the compassion of God to save all who will respond to outstretched arms.
As Paul wraps up his opening comments to the church at Ephesus, he offers a prayer for them that is centered around the theme of God’s power displayed in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ. As we ‘know’ God and grow in our understanding of His incredible power, we will deepen in the hope of our calling, realize the riches of the glory of our inheritance, and embrace the surpassing greatness of His power.
In this final message our of Flourish in Faith emphasis, we go all the way to the end of Second Corinthians to consider Paul’s final exhortation to that congregation. In this single verse, we hear God’s command to rejoice, be made complete, be comforted by one another, be like minded, live in peace, and walk in the love and peace of God. These traits represent life in a healthy church, and they result in joy pervading the body of Christ.
God is not a hoarder, He is a giver, and as believers give, God is shown to be the One who resupplies and multiplies what is given in righteousness. We are not buckets meant to collect and hold what God gives, we are faucets, meant to dispense what God supplies. In this fifth “Flourish in Faith” sermon, we explore 10 biblical benefits of giving.
In this third section, we have seen the growing opposition toward Jesus from the religious leaders of His day. Jesus answered that opposition by explaining His equality and the ultimate unity of His works with the Father. These verses describe one of our Lords most remarkable miracles. As we walk though this story together, we see first that the place and time where this takes place is clearly noted, to give greater evidence of the truth of the story. The circumstances are specified, so that the details may be proven. We will be encouraged to see that when true faith is tested it is for our sake, for the sake of God’s provision and salvation for those around us, as well as to display Christ’s compassion, power, sufficiency, and humility.
Because Adam and Eve chose to listen to the voice of Satan, to doubt the loving purpose of their Lord, and to break God’s law by seeking what He alone reserved for Himself, all of creation has come under the curse of death. Our sin and lostness is why we are a condemned people in need of salvation from our Loving God. And that salvation is exactly what God promises in Genesis 3:15. Christ will be the gift of God who will crush the head of the Serpent and restore all who believe to the enjoyment of God’s glory. It is the fulfillment of this promise in the incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas.