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Amazing Grace

Romans 11:1-6
I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah - how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (NIV)

In one way, the Old Testament narrative is sad: God's law is rejected, His people wander from Him and the hope of a Messiah fades. But God had not abandoned His people: in every generation there was a remnant who believed God's Word, and faithfully anticipated His Messiah. The Apostle Paul said that he became one such person; although he had been rebellious towards the gospel, God gave him grace to believe the truth and be born again.

Elijah had despaired. He could not see anyone else who trusted God, and thought that the salvation of Israel was his sole responsibility. But God knew better; He had seven thousand more believing and faithful prophets waiting to be used. It is a mystery how God calls people to trust in Him; but we may be sure that God never leaves Himself without witnesses. He gives grace to even the weakest and the worst so that they can repent and believe the gospel.

Paul wrote this to assure the Christians in Rome that God would not reject Jews from Christ's church; they could receive the grace which had been extended to everybody else (Gentiles). This is still good news for those of our Jewish friends, as well as those who come from a wide variety of faith backgrounds - the gospel is God's call for everybody to receive grace through Jesus Christ. In addition, those who are spiritually lonely can be comforted that they are not the only believer. Other Christians might not have identified themselves, but God has His people everywhere: He knows how to keep the light of Christ alight in even the darkest of communities. So do not think that anybody is outside the scope of His grace; and do not despair that you think you are the only believer. God keeps His secrets well until they are ready to be revealed. And when they are revealed, rejoice and glorify God for the gospel of His grace.

Eternal and ever-wise God. Thank You for not abandoning Your ancient people, the Jews, but for extending to them the gospel of Your grace. Thank You too that no one who believes in Jesus will ever be eternally shamed. Forgive me for making wrong judgements about people, for respecting their background more than the hope You are offering them in the gospel. And forgive me for despairing when I feel spiritually lonely. Please help me to understand that in the same way that I have received Your grace, so too can many others. Help me to trust You and be willing to work with You until You reveal more of Your plan. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams