The Privilege of God's Grafting
Ro 11:11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? (Is that the end of it then. The Jew falls into the trap of religiosity and consequently reject the Messiah and that’s the end of the story? No hope for the Jews? )Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. God, once again turns a bad situation into something good!
Paul, now looks at the benefits realized by the Gentiles because of the stumbling Jew. The spiritual blessings of the Jews have become a mighty snare to them, and a stumbling block. Their table had been set with all manner of spiritual blessings related to the coming Christ. Everything in the Jewish religion spoke of the coming Messiah.
They could look at their table settings and know that a feast was on the way. Every Thanksgiving holiday in the Matz household, my mother would break out the “good china.” The genuine silver utensils were brought out, the best goblets, finest tablecloth with matching cloth napkins, and the table was set, and though there was no food on it, we knew a great feast was on the way! This is the way it was for the Jews.
But the Jews were so in love with their table settings that when the actual meal came along, they missed it! They were looking for the sumptuous fare fit for a conquering king, not the humble pie of Jesus. They were looking for the restoration of the glory days of Solomon and David, forgetting that those glory days were preceded by repentance and humility.
This was the major problem or stumbling block of the Jews and if we are not careful, it can become a stumbling block for us as well. We can form Jesus into our own image of what He should be and miss Him.
Or we can have all the trappings of religion, all the beautiful rituals and traditions and stained glass windows, and golden altars and chalices, but unless we partake of Jesus in a personal vibrant knowledgeable way, unless we know Him, unless our will is surrendered to His, He will ultimately have no part of us. “Depart from Me for I never knew you!”
Now, let’s look at the second part of verse 11 in Romans.
Because of the fall of the Jew, salvation has come to the Gentiles. No need to figure this out or speculate on how the Gentiles would’ve been saved without the fall of the Jews. Rather rejoice in the fact that you salvation is an option for you! You have received the gift! Rejoice!
And though it seems odd, one of the reasons you have been blessed with salvation is to make the Jews jealous. Kind of makes you feel a little used doesn’t it? Well, you’d think it would, but I have never met a born again Gentile who is bothered in the least by such an arrangement. Again let’s rejoice that we are included in the kingdom for whatever reason!
I think of the time when Jesus was approached by a Gentile woman who repeatedly asked that he heal her daughter. He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs” And she replied, “Truth Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the master’s table.”
Do you see what has happened to the Gentile? God has invited the dog gentiles, (you and I) to be partakers of the food prepared for the Jew! He brought the food the bread of Life to their table in the form of Jesus but they have rejected Him and the gospel, and settled for their own fare of legalism and ritualism.
They continue to observe the Passover with it’s bitter herbs, and substitute sacrificial lamb, recounting a time in their history when God delivered them from slavery, and looking forward to the day when the Messiah will come and set up His kingdom on earth, blessing all mankind!
We celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar with the real presence of the Lamb of God who delivered us once and all from the slavery of sin with His body and blood. The Lamb of God who will come again and dash His enemies to pieces on Judgement Day, destroy the earth, then re-create it for the eternal benefit of those who are His.
And so God is heaping our plates full with the blessings of salvation by grace. I don’t know about you, but if I’m eating a plain McDonald’s hamburger and I see a dog eating steak. I’m either going to get jealous or mad.
Have you ever considered this passage on provoking to jealousy and considered it.......childish? “C’mon God you don’t have to resort to trying to make people jealous do You?” Well, this kind of jealousy is a more powerful weapon than you might think.
As we enjoy the blessings of salvation by grace, and as we live our lives according to Spirit led obedience of God’s Word, the fruit of the Spirit that is produced should cause others to desire to obtain the same thing.
When this prodigal came home, I remember thinking and actually praying that God would make me the kind of person that my wife was. Why did I do that? Because I had seen the fruit of the Spirit active in her life over an extended period of time and I wanted some of that in my own life. This is the kind of jealousy we should be provoking in unbelievers, Jew and Gentile alike..
But in all honesty, it seems that there is not a lot of jealousy being provoked. Why? Could it be that our own Christian lifestyle falls short of promoting jealousy? Have we missed the mark? Has our own lavishly laden table become a snare to us?
Has our bickering, our fascination with material things, our own brand of ritualism, our self-pity, our outbursts of wrath, our lack of love for one another, provoked avoidance rather than jealousy? I fear we have been invited to the table, but have in many cases settled for worldly scraps rather than the luscious fruit of the Spirit.
Do you know what? It is the fruit of the Spirit that provokes jealousy! The more evident the fruit of the Spirit is in our lives, the more jealous others will become Jew or Gentile.
Remember the fruit of the Spirit? Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.
How evident is this fruit in the Body of Christ these days? How evident is it in your own life? Let me let you in on a little secret. The fruit of the Spirit only manifests itself to the extent that we allow Jesus to rule in our lives. That means we choose to place Him on the throne and allow Him to work obedience to His Word in our lives.
Every act of obedience, every trust in a promise found in God’s Word, every sin renounced, confessed, and forgiven is a shot of fertilizer for the fruit of the Spirit.
Have you ever observed a fruit filled Christian in your life and found yourself jealous? Do you wish you had their love, their joy, their peace, their patience, their kindness, their goodness, their faithfulness, their gentleness, and their self-control? I guarantee you won’t find it in wishing you had it, or in trying to emulate them in the flesh because this is a supernatural gift!
You will only get there when you come to an end of yourself, when you finally admit you can’t do it! When you finally realize that you are a sinner in need of a Savior and your life is in need of a Lord, and you learn to become dependent on Him!
12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
True Christians enrich their world as they live out their faith. And the fall of the Jews has brought about more Christians as the Gospel was brought to the Gentiles. These are indisputable facts. And if we are not “enriching this world,” Then something is wrong with our fruit tree and it needs to be tended .
How much more rich will the world be as salvation comes to the Jews and they are grafted back into the tree. How much more the converted Jew adds to the fullness of the Body of Christ. How much more shade the tree will offer, how much more fruit the tree will bear.
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.
Pay attention here church. Paul is speaking to us! He says, “Hey! I’m talkin to you!” Don’t sell this jealousy thing short!” Magnify your ministry! In other words, get out from under the bushel basket and let your light so shine before men! Let men put a magnifying glass to your life and see what they find!
Not that you stand on a street corner and say, “look at me, I’m a Christian!” No! Just live your life under the lordship of Christ in plain view of everyone.
The ultimate goal is to give visible evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. So that when you stand on a street corner you don’t need to boast, indeed you dare not boast, but when people come in contact with you, they will know that you have been with Jesus, and will desire to be with Him too.
Warren Wiersbe, commenting on this portion of Scripture says, “If an unsaved Jew visited the average church service, would he be provoked to jealousy and wish he had what we had, or would he just be provoked.”
15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
This verse serves as introductory to the next section as Paul uses the analogy of branches being cut off and branches being grafted on and branches being able to be grafted back on even after they have been cut off. This supernatural grafting process (reconciling the limb to the tree and giving the branch new life is only possible because the root of the tree is holy.
What do we mean by that? It can be illustrated in the OT law of firstfruits and Paul points this out in v16..
16 For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy;
We start by going back to the book of Leviticus where we read of how all the grain of Israel and the bread made from that grain was symbolically made holy. The firstfruits of the grain were brought in sheafs and offered up to the Lord. This offering made the rest of the crop and the bread made from it (the lump) holy.
Then Paul uses another similar illustration to make his point.
“and if the root is holy, so are the branches.”
What do the sanctified dough and sanctified root portray? The portray the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. A covenant based on faith. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness....we might say holiness.
Only those branches that have the faith of Abraham are compatible with this tree. The sap of life can only flow to those branches that are open to salvation by grace through faith. The fruit of the Spirit can only be produced in those branches that believe and act on God’s Word.
Even if you’ve never tried grafting a branch onto a tree, you should be able to understand this: The sap cannot flow to a new branch if the new branch has been hardened. You might as well try to graft on a two by four.
And so a new cut is made, a cut made far enough back that the sap has a chance to flow, the graft has a chance to take and the branch will become a fruit producing part of the tree. The cut is a vital part of the attachment process.
I cannot help but think of Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost, as he brought the law to bear against his Jewish audience, accusing them of murdering the Son of God. What does the Bible say? “They were cut to the heart!” It is the heart so cut, that is ready to be grafted onto the tree of life.
They saw their sin. They saw their need for salvation. They saw that their only hope was faith in Jesus. They were ready to believe God as it concerns faith in Jesus Christ for salvation! And they cried out, “what shall we do?”
And Peter said, “Repent” think differently about Jesus Christ. Think differently about salvation by works or religion. Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The act of baptism is the actual grafting in process.
When you graft a branch onto a tree, it must be sealed. Typically an asphalt water emulsion mixture is used. This prevents a drying out of the branch, which would result in the death of the branch.
The Bible tells us we are sealed by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit comes to us in baptism. So we bring our little wild olive shoots, our infants to Christ and graft them onto the tree. Those who have never been baptized come to faith and then desire to be grafted onto the tree by baptism.
And we daily remind ourselves of our baptism, as we confess our faith and those sins that cause hardening and drying of the arteries and if not corrected......eventual death. So this is what God has done in His mercy and grace, He has grafted us onto the tree.
17 And if some of the branches were broken off, (The Jews through disbelief) and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree,
18 do not boast against the branches. (Don’t boast against the Jews because of your good fortune) But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. (Always remember that it is your connection to the faith of Abraham that saves you!)
19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in."
20 Well said. (In the Greek.....whoop de doo! Well not really, but seriously remember the grace by which you were saved )
Remember that you were just a wild olive tree, and if you would’ve stayed a wild olive tree, you would be burned up with the rest of the orchard when the end comes. But by the grace of God you have been grafted into the tree of life. The bush that is not consumed by fire!
Pity the dead branches that have been trimmed off because of their disbelief!
“ Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
Don’t think that your baptism alone will save you! If you allow sin and disbelief to harden you, if you do not produce fruit, by surrendering to Christ, you will be cut off the tree just as sure as the unbelieving Jews were, and unless you correct your course, you will be burned with all the other dead wood in the end.
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
Consider the whole character of God! There are many who are locked into one aspect or the other. Some think He is all good and He would never cut off a single branch. Just consider that for a moment. How beautiful is a tree when it’s dead branches haven’t been trimmed? That wouldn’t be a lush beautiful tree it would be an abberation and beneath the dignity of God and the Garden of Eden.
Others make the fatal mistake of thinking He is nothing but severe and don’t want anything to do with Him. Don’t hold a one-sided view of God. Consider His goodness and severity being ever thankful for the grace that grafted you on the tree and ever mindful that if you get careless with your faith you too can be cut off.
23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Oh the mercy and power of God! He is able in His omnipotence to take a branch that has been cut off and dried up and graft it back onto the tree! In a sense, He is able to revive the gift of faith in a two by four and cause it to bear fruit once again! He did it with the rod of Aaron and He can do it for you.
And how much better for the branch that has already been there....done that? It is a much more natural fit for the Jew who is of the original root.
Do you see the great hope here for the Gentile as well. You experienced the goodness of God when you were baptized as an infant and grafted onto the tree through no doing of your own. But sometimes the Gentile forgets the severity of God and gets careless with his faith. I know I did.
And I know that I had been removed from the tree, I know I was out of fellowship with God, but in His great mercy and grace He came to me with His gift of repentance and faith and grafted this dead branch back onto the tree!
Are you listening young people? Remember the severity of God! He is able to cut you off from the tree of life if you harden your heart toward Him. He is not required to graft you back on, and if you don’t take your faith seriously you run the risk of losing it, to be cut off and cast into the fire.
You are at an age when many get careless with their faith, oh beware! Fear the severity of God!
But don’t forget His goodness either, and if your faith has grown cold, remember that as long as you have breath in your body, there is still enough life left in you to produce a successful graft. Humbly come before the Lord and confess your disbelief, confess your sins and allow Him to clean you up and graft you back onto the tree.
Don’t play with fire! That’s where the dead, unproductive branches end up you know, and you never know when you will be called home. Pick up the newspaper and ask yourself, how many of these people in the headlines who have met untimely deaths were prepared?
Are you prepared? The end could come at anytime. An accident, a heart attack, the Lord’s return. Are you right now on the tree, producing fruit, or are you laying on the orchard ground? Are you part of the bush that does not burn, or are you just kindling for the great fire of judgement on the Last Day?
Right now, in the quietness of your own heart. renounce your disbelief, your sinful ways, and surrender your life anew to Jesus. Allow God to pick you up and gently graft you back onto the tree of life, so that you will taste of His goodness rather than His severity.