FROM PASTOR TIM JOHNSON:
Thank you all for your feedback on Sunday’s message on Israel’s Election to be God’s chosen people, and, the nature of election for an individual’s salvation. It’s a difficult topic, but it’s imperative to treat because it is so clearly in God’s word.
Always remember that I think the best we can do to reconcile the paradox between God’s sovereignty and our will is to say: “God is sovereign, and we are responsible.” I think that’s all that God’s Word ultimately reveals for us.
Having said that, Paul is clear in Romans 9: 15-16 that God’s mercy is distributed according to His sovereign decision alone and “it depends not on human will or exertion.” He has mercy on whomever He freely wills. Only God is truly free.
So, we can say that since God elected Israel to be His chosen line; that is Abraham through Isaac through Jacob (not through Ishmael or Esau or we Norwegians or you Germans or Africans or even the English), He will not suddenly “unelect” them because they rejected Jesus.
Paul is a living testimony as an Israelite that God has NOT rejected Israel; as are the Apostles, the thousands that were converted at Pentecost who were mostly Israelites arriving from around the world, and still today, such as the Goldsteins. God is not finished with His people because He chose them.
And that’s good news for those who are called to follow Jesus. If election means anything, it is the guarantee that one’s salvation cannot be lost, just as the Israelites cannot be “lost”. Punished, yes; lost, never.
So, if there was a “sign” that God is always faithful to His elect followers of Jesus, it is the ongoing presence and commitment to His chosen people; Israel. Are you worried God will destroy the world by a flood? Don’t be; look to the rainbow.
Are you worried that God will abandon His human creation and allow us to die apart from Him? Don’t be. Remember the sign of circumcision as a constant reminder of God’s covenant promises to Abraham…to bless the nations.
Are you worried that God will renege on His commitment to His elect? Don’t be. Look to Israel even, and especially today as reminder that God will not abandon His chosen vessel of glory because Israel exists, and, is flourishing by the way.
Are you worried that God does not care about the non-Jews, like you and me? Don’t be. Look to the sign of His promise to bless us by sending His son Jesus, for He will be born of a virgin.
God chose the Abrahamic line (through Isaac and Jacob) to be His vessel to bless the nations, but no Israelite from that line will be saved apart from trusting in Jesus. And, any descendant of Ishmael or Esau or Nebuchadnezzar anyone for that matter who trusts in Jesus will be saved.
This is why Paul says in 9:6 that God’s word has NOT failed. Not all who are Israel are Israel because Ishmael and Esau are not “Israel” even though they are from the line of Abraham. Therefore, Paul argues, we should not expect that all Israel will be saved. Salvation, like God’s treatment of true Israel, depends on election, not our will or exertion.
And while we are not quite there yet…. Israel will remain. Nowhere does Paul suggest that the Church has somehow replaced Israel. If He did, election would not mean anything, and then we who are saved (whether Jew or Gentile) would not have confidence that God’s election can be trusted.
But since it is assured, it is a grace. Pure grace. Election is a doctrine of grace.
This coming Sunday we will treat Romans 9:19-29. It will be another doozy, so read it over carefully, pray for me to be faithful to the Holy Spirit’s leading, instruction and intention for our body, and keep reading God’s Word.
For the sake of the elect (2 Timothy 2:10), I am humbly, stumbly and gratefully…
Rescued by Christ,