Beware of Lip Service Christianity
Chapter 11 can be summed up by the failure of the Jews due to disbelief, which results in only a remnant being saved. This failure serves as a warning to all!
Ro 11:1 I say then, has God cast away His people?
Has God cast away the physical offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Good question in light of what was written in the preceding chapters. I mean, one could read these chapters and get the false impression that God has cast aside the Jews in favor of the Gentiles.
In this chapter, Paul will put that notion to rest, and warn both Jew and Gentile that itís disbelief that casts off, not God! Itís disbelief that allows for only a remnant to be saved. He is still there as He was in 10:21, ďstretching out His hands and inviting disobedient and contrary people to come to Him through Jesus.
Paul responds emphatically to the question:
Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
Nice argument Paul. If all Jews were cast away, how did he manage to get saved? Was he not a Jew? Not only that, but how did he especially manage to get saved. I mean he was awful! He hounded and persecuted and murdered Christians wherever he could find them and when he ran out of Christians in Jerusalem, he went to Damascus to get more.
If Paul could be saved....anyone can be saved.
2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying,
3 "LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"?
4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
As 2 Timothy 2:19 says, ď The Lord knows those who are His," and, if they are His, He is not going to throw them away. Itís not a matter of natural birthright, (it never is) itís a matter of believing God. Itís a matter of faith in His promises. They are the ones who are truly His.
Elijah had looked around Israel and found the bleakest of spiritual conditions. He thought he was the only true believer left, but God told him there were many more! He said there were 7000 who had not bowed their knee to Baal. 7000 who had not chased after other gods but still looked to Him as the One true God!
At times we can all develop a little bit of an Elijah complex. I often look around at the spiritual condition of our nation and wonder where are the believers? Where are those who have a passion for God and His Word. Where are those who have not given in to the ways of the world. There is so much compromise (which in fact is idolatry) in the church today.
From birth control to abortion to homosexuality to divorce and remarriage, to fornication, foul mouths, and finances, where are the voices that rise up against these and other ways of the world? Where are those who will not participate in such sins lest they offend the Most High God? It seems like they are missing from the Christian landscape. But you know what? There is always a remnant.
If Elijah wasnít alone, we can be certain that there are no ďloneĒ Christians today. The remnant is everywhere. Iím always amazed by that. Honestly, I have been in churches that appear to be completely dead. They havenít heard a Word from the Lord from their pulpit in years! The prophet hasnít been slain, but he might as well have been.
Their worship is all ritual and tradition, (there is a place for ritual and tradition) but when those things become a substitute for the real experience of salvation, the true altar of the Lord has been torn down.
But even in the midst of cold ritualism, even in the midst of horrendous false teaching, if you wait and watch you will find a remnant in that church. You will find people who have been quietly faithful. People who are ever praying, hoping, and working for revival in their midst.
Some must leave such churches because it becomes intolerable, but others are called to stay, they are called to pray and work for the salvation of souls in that particular arena.
5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
As true as it was in Elijahís day, and Paulís day, so it is even true today! Remember there is always a remnant according to Godís plan of grace. There is always a remnant who know and believe that their righteousness comes from Christ alone, and not from tradition, ritual, or man-made laws.
6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
Grace precludes works. If you add any human effort, by definition, it is no longer grace. And of course if there is human effort involved, by definition it is works, and no longer constitutes grace. Simple statement from Paul, but always worth remembering. We are saved by grace, to add human effort negates our salvation.
7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
Israel sought salvation but they missed it because they added works, they negated grace, the necessary element of salvation. We are saved by grace through faith! Yet even among the Jews there were an elect who obtained salvation because the elect are those who have rejected the doctrine of works and accepted Godís grace.
The remaining Jews who rejected Godís grace, who rejected Christ have been blinded. Poor choice of words here by the King James, a better reading would be they became like stones, petrified, resistant to Godís grace, hardened to it. This was a judgement from God because of their rejection of His grace.
Godís justice is usually poetic and this is no exception. He says, ďIf you want to be saved by the works of the law, then I will turn your hearts into that which I have carved the Law. They will become like the tablets of Mt Sinai.
8 Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day."
Drunk, blind, and deaf, now thereís a combination! But a great description of those who will not receive the Word of God. Have you ever noticed that about yourself? I hope not, but letís be honest, it happens to most of us.
The preacher is preaching along, proclaiming Godís Word, and your ears are hearing his clear message, but then he talks about tithing, suddenly your ears get a little waxy. You tune him out. Or maybe itís abortion, or homosexuality, or birth control or divorce and remarriage, or whatever part of Godís Word that you are resistant to.
I think we could learn from that. I think when I find my spiritual hearing getting dulled, I need to examine my heart in that particular area as it relates to Godís Word.
This stupefying event for the Jews should not have caught them by surprise for it was spoken of by the prophets.
This prophecy from verse 8, was from the book of Isaiah and the Lord said why He was going to do such a thing. Is 29:13, "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,Ē
That was the reason. giving God lip service, but no heart to do the spirit of His bidding, rather they were obsessed with their own commandments and Jesus spent three years pointing that fact out to them to no avail.
Are you paying attention church? If this spirit of stupor was brought upon the Israelites, what makes you think it wonít be brought upon us for the same reason? Let us mark these warning signs well!
Do we talk a big game when it comes to our Christianity? DO we say the right things? Do we give lip service to God while we chase after other things and neglect Him and His Word. Thatís what the Israelites did and I am seeing more and more evidence of it in the church today.
We talk a big game, but when our will collides with Godís will, we are more likely to do it our way rather than His. And so we see so many abhorrent behaviors that I have already mentioned being accepted in the church today.
Is our fear of God based on man-made rules or the rules he handed down on Mt Sinai? Does our love of God flow from what we do for Him or from what He has done for us? You see they were adding works to grace, and now were being judged, and Paul once again brings in the biblical procedure of two witnesses as he adds Davidís witness to Isaiahís.
9 And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, and bow down their back always." (NKJV)
Paul quotes from the 69th Psalm. This Psalm is one of the most important of the Messianc Psalms and is referred to several times in the New Testament. Jesus quoted from this Psalm when He said they hated me without a cause (Jn 15:25)
After Jesus cleaned out the Temple and chased out the money changers, John wrote: ďzeal for your house has eaten me up, a quote from Ps. 69:9. In 69:21, we read, ďThey also gave me gall for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.Ē An obvious prophetic referral to events that took place during the crucifixion of Jesus. .
In 69:8 David writes, ďI have become a stranger to my brothers and an alien to my motherís childrenĒ. and John writes in Jn 7:5. ďFor even his brothers did not believe in Him.Ē The point of all this is to see the parallel between the rejection that David was experiencing from his Jewish brethren in his time and the rejection that Christ would experience from His Jewish brethren in His time.
Davidís prayer was that his enemies table would become a snare, and their well being, their prosperity, would become a trap, and this trap would then cause them to be blind to the truth, and weighed down, bent over backwards from heavy burdens.
Davidís prayer was prophetic as it related to the Jews and it played out into the crucifixion of Christ. Their table had been set with rich spiritual blessings that should have led them to Christ. But instead they kept them from Christ. The table settings became more important to them than the food, the bread of life which was brought to them in Jesus.
Their religious practices and observances and rulesbecame substitutes for the real experience of salvation, and they became weighed down by the burden of man-made religion. Jesus said this about the Jewish religious leaders:
Mt 23:4 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (NKJV)
The Jews turned a heritage of grace, (Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness) into a heritage of man made laws.
We need to guard against the same temptation, lest our eyes be darkened too. Never allow ritual to become a substitute for the real thing. Never allow obedience to Laws to become the basis of salvation. True obedience always flows from a heart that has been first touched by the grace of God.
A heart that prays with the publican: ďLord, have mercy on me, a sinner.Ē
With a repentant heart, and with confessing lips, with hearts open to receiving the gift of grace and forgiveness, we can have a vibrant, born-again relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship that gladly hears His Word and obeys it. Let us remember the warnings of Isaiah and David.
Do not give lip service either with our actions (or inactions) or with our rituals and tradition. Let us affirm our belief in God in heart felt worship, being thankful for His great grace and salvation, and demonstrating the authenticity of that gift through heartfelt obedience to His Word. A word that still speaks to us today about birth control, abortion homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, fornication, foul mouths, and finances.
To ignore the spiritual truths and biblical teachings on these matters and anything else in the revealed will of God found in this Book, or to rely on ritual and tradition is to place your heart far from God and set yourself up for judgement.