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God Knows How to Save

Romans 11:25-27
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (NIV)

Today's passage contains a puzzle, because Paul writes that "all Israel will be saved". Clearly, God's ancient people had become hard against Jesus. As they continued in their resistance against the gospel, God allowed their hardness of heart; but He also extended His promises so that Gentiles might believe and inherit eternal life. At the same time, God had pledged Himself to fulfil His covenant to Jews and purge their sins. How can this be?

In the same way that ancient Israel could not understand how God could welcome Gentiles, some Gentile believers in Rome did not think that He would be gracious to Jews any more. They could not see the end of the story or how God would fulfil His covenant to His people. But we cannot apply human reason in order to predict God's activity. Neither can we exclude what we think is impossible, because God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:7-9). One thing we do know: only Jesus is the great deliverer, as this passage quotes (Isaiah 59:20).

The wonder of the gospel is that God welcomes everybody who puts their trust in Jesus. The Lord, and not us, is responsible for the content of the message, sending out messengers, softening people's hearts, giving them faith to believe, and filling them with His Holy Spirit. It is not for us to determine whose hearts God will soften. Neither is it for us to predict the people God will not save and transform by His power. Our task is simply to make the Good News about Jesus available wherever God sends us, and trust the Lord to bring His Word to life in people's hearts. It does not matter who they are: Jews or Gentiles, educated or illiterate, travellers or settled people, young or old, healthy or sick, whatever their ethnic or religious background ... all who believe in Jesus will be saved.

Redeeming God. Thank You that You always keep Your promises. Thank You that everybody who comes to Jesus will be saved; irrespective of their background. Forgive me when I have made judgements about who can or cannot be saved; and when I have failed to spread Your Word because I thought it would be ineffective. Help me to see people though Christ-like eyes, share the gospel freely and pray for Your Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams