Thesis:The "conclusion" to "election by grace" is that the remnant obtain the blessing of God.
Introduction:Last week I spent our study time attempting to clarify "grace" by considering what Paul meant by "works". My arguments were several. First, I argued that "works" is a summary word in Paul's vocabulary that points to a specific doctrine. Second, I argued that the specific doctrine is that God can be put under Justice so that He must respond to the actions of others "in kind". Third, I argued that it is the intent to handle the fears of insecurity by attempting to force God to be "fair" that colors the doctrine of "works" and makes it evil and absolutely ineffectual. The bottom line is found here: any creature that attempts to "force" God in any way is exalting his/her ignorance over His omniscience and his/her selfishness over His love. Thus, I concluded that "Grace" is an absolute freedom in God to ignore Justice in favor of Mercy so that the eternal benefit of others can be achieved.
Now, this evening we are going to move a step or two beyond the "works/grace" doctrines to the issue of how they work out in human experience. This is the essence of Paul's opening question in 11:7. "What then?" asks for a conclusion and we are going to look at the one Paul gave.
I. Israel Did Not Obtain What He Sought.
A. The identity of "Israel" here is the larger group of the descendents of Jacob who took their identity from him after his name change.
1. As the larger group of descendents, this Israel is marked by two "descendent" realities.
a. It is tied to Jacob/Israel by physical generation: there is a direct genetic link to the man.
b. It calls itself, and is called, "Israel", but this tag is not accepted by God (9:6).
2. As the larger group of descendents, this Israel is marked by one "doctrinal" reality.
a. Paul claimed that "Israel" was "lost" (10:1).
b. Paul claimed that this "lost Israel" was committed to an ignorant and rebellious doctrine (10:3).
3. As a group of descendents who were zealously committed to this ignorant and rebellious doctrine, this Israel is marked by one "fatal" reality.
a. Paul claimed that their zeal was underwritten by a determination to establish their ability to boast (2:17; 3:27; and 11:8) that would not be shed at any cost.
b. Paul claimed that their methodology was doomed to failure (10:5 compared with Galatians 3:10).
c. Paul claimed that the failure would inevitably result in condemnation (Romans 2:3).
B. The sought-after objective is carefully isolated.
1. Paul claimed that what Israel sought, the elect obtained.
2. This means that both Israel and the elect were seeking the same thing.
3. This "thing" has "graduated levels of meaning".
a. Paul claimed that one of the sought-after items was "salvation" (10:9).
b. Paul claimed that one of the sought-after items was "a righteous standing before God" (10:3).
c. Paul claimed that one of the sought-after items was "a position of special favor with God" (10:19 -- the essential basis for jealousy).
C. The sought-after objective is denied to Israel because its idolatrous rejection of grace.
1. The only difference between the two "Israels" is grace.
2. The larger Israel was adamant about its rejection of grace (10:20-21).
3. The larger Israel was adamant about its "zeal" to "prove" that God had to give salvation to them because they had earned it.
II. The Elect Did Obtain What It Sought.
A. It "got" a position of special favor before God, a righteous standing before God, and the salvation of God.
B. It got these things because it was exposed to, and embraced, Grace as God's special activity on its behalf.
C. What it really got, however, was a quality of experience defined by being absorbed into the essential character of God's Love.
1. What this means is explained by Paul in both 5:2 and 9:2.
2. What this means is participation in all of the attributes of God without the exclusion of any.
a. This reality exists in the complexity of the reality of personality.
1) Everywhere in the Scriptures we are taught that God is both/and without the diminishing of either in any sense.
a) He is both "just" and the "justifier".
b) He is "full of righteousness" and "full of mercy".
c) He is both filled with unlimited hostility toward the wicked and a lover of His enemies.
2) Thus, it is no real "T"heological problem for God to have both an unceasing pain in His heart and an unspeakable joy (and if He can, we can).
3) Nor can it be a real "T"heological problem for God to "wish all men to be saved" and "elect only some".
a) Satan delights in attempting to force our "T"heology into an "either/or" rather than a "both/and" scenario because he knows that as soon as we get into "either/or", we lose both "faith" and "joy".
b) The fact is that it takes "both/and" to produce Life and Life is diminished by the diminishing of either.
b. Man's major problem is his single dimension thinking where he refuses to recognize that an unbalanced indulgence in anything is deadening.
1) Add to that his intense fear of his own losses (this is complete, mindless selfcenteredness) and Life goes out the window.
2) Paul was most alive when he had both "great sorrow" and "unspeakable joy" and we are most dead when we refuse either.