Thesis:The people whom God has not cast away are they who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
Introduction:In our study last time we zeroed in on how the "foreknowledge" of God prevents any notion that He has "cast away His people". The short form of that argument is found in Matthew 7:23 where Jesus says that the basis for rejection (casting away) is the declaration, "I never knew you." This would be impossible to say if He ever "knew" a person. Since Paul says that God has "known" His people "before the present" (the real meaning of 'foreknowledge'), it would be impossible for them to be cast away on the basis of the declaration, "I never knew you".
However, a problem persists for Paul's readers. It is all well and good to argue "theoretically" that God cannot cast away "His people" and to have an iron-clad argument. It is altogether another thing for an individual to take any comfort from the validity of the argument since it is "generic". What is "generically true" has no impact on a specific individual unless there is a way to make the "generic truth" specifically apply to that individual.
Clearly, Paul considered himself one of the "people of God" (this is the root of his claim in 11:1). How did he get to this confidence?
His answer would be that his experience aligned with the Scripture. Thus, this evening we are going to look into his "Scriptural" argument.
I. Paul's Appeal to "What the Scripture Says."
A. This is not the "bottom line", but it is a crucial element in arriving at that "bottom line".
1. Just because "the Scripture says" something does not mean that the hearer of its content will have any confidence in that content.
a. The Scripture says multiplied thousands of things.
b. People are often aware of the content of those things.
1) Paul does admit by the way he phrases his question that it is possible that the people are not aware: "Or do you not know...?"
2) But, even if there is a specific ignorance of a specific fact in the Scripture, most have more "knowledge" of what the Scriptures say than they practice.
c. And people are notorious hypocrites.
2. We know that the persuasion of a biblical truth comes from the Spirit.
3. But we also know that the persuasion can be, and is, very often resisted because of the price that is involved.
4. However, the Spirit typically uses the Scripture to exercise His ministry of persuasion.
a. Paul would not have appealed to the Scripture if it were simply an addendum to the work of the Spirit.
b. Paul depended upon the Spirit to use his reference to the Scripture to do His work.
c. He clearly desired that his readers would not only see his argument from the Scripture, but would "believe" it.
B. He intended to "box" his readers in by giving them no "out".
1. People can easily reject what is claimed to be "of the Spirit" when there is no evidence that it is.
a. They often do not because they like what they are being told is "of the Spirit".
b. But, if they do not like what they are hearing, or if what they are hearing seems too good to be true, they often do.
2. Thus, what the Spirit really wants is typically located in Scripture.
II. Paul's Use of the Elijah Event.
A. He found in the records regarding Elijah an example of a man who was foundering on the appearance of divine failure: this was how Paul saw his readers.
B. He used "Elijah" because he was so "above" the norm for "believers".
1. He was a "prophet".
a. As such, he was supposed to have had an inside track on God's thinking.
b. As such, he was supposed to be "aware" of the true nature of what was going on.
2. He was capable of using significant miraculous powers.
a. This implied a high level of harmony with God's way of doing things.
b. This implied that his doing of "out-of-the-norm" things did not muck up the Plan of God.
C. He used Elijah because he was wrong and needed to be corrected.
1. He was not wrong about his "accusations".
a. "Israel" had killed many of His prophets.
b. "Israel" had destroyed His altar.
c. "Israel" was out to kill his soul.
2. He was wrong about his sense that God was seriously failing.
a. He knew about the "Israel within Israel" concept.
b. He knew about God's promises to the fathers.
c. He thought he knew that he was the only one left, perhaps in the Exodus 32:9-13 sense.
3. He needed to be corrected, so God corrected him.
III. Paul's Use of the Correction.
A. The issue of the text is God's faithfulness to "His people".
B. The issue of "His people" is further explained.
1. They are the "foreknown" in the earlier statement.
2. In this statement they are "the reserved by God".
3. In this statement they are "they who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
a. This is the most helpful part because it moves us out of the "private thinking and acting of God".
b. This is the element that is discernible in the world men inhabit.
c. This is also the "telling trait" of those God calls "His reserved-unto-Myself people".