Updated: Sep 24, 2020
I. Not through your merit
II. Only by God’s mercy
Romans 11:13-15, 28-32 13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am
the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14 in the hope that
I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their
acceptance be but life from the dead?...28 As far as the gospel is concerned,
they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they
are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are
irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have
now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have
now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as
a result of God’s mercy to you.
32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
In the name of Jesus Christ, through whom God’s mercy comes to us, dear
Christian friends, “Who invited her? She is so beneath us; she doesn’t dress like us; she doesn’t act
like us; she isn’t cool like us. She shouldn’t be here with us.”
Regardless if it was in reference to a boy or a girl, that might sound like a
conversation you had with your friends when you were in middle school or high school.
How cruel some teenagers can be at times— as we all know from experience!
Or that might sound like a conversation others were having about you and you
overheard them. Most of us know how it feels to be on the painful side of that
conversation. It is most humiliating, for sure!
Or that might also have been the conversation among Jesus’ disciples when the
Canaanite woman we heard about in today’s Gospel came to the place where Jesus was.
She was the object of the disciples’ scorn. Thankfully, even though it appeared Jesus felt
the same way about her, he actually addressed her, acted on her request and applauded
her great faith.
Or it might be the kind of conversation the new-to-the-faith Romans were having
about the Jews about which the Apostle Paul was writing with the words before us today.
Talk about cruel! Talk about humiliating! It is no mystery why God inspired the Apostle
Paul to write these words in order to set the record straight on who was to be included in
God’s Church— the family of believers, the band bound for heaven!
BE GRATEFUL THE CHURCH IS MEANT FOR YOU!
I. Not through your merit
II. Only by God’s mercy
2 What the Roman Christians of the First Century learned, I also want you Twenty-
First Century Christians to learn. BE GRATEFUL THE CHURCH IS MEANT FOR YOU!
I. Not by your merit II. Only by God’s mercy.
I am talking to you Gentiles. This phrase Paul used to get the attention of these
newbie Christians in Rome applies to us as well. We are Gentiles, those who are not of
the Jewish race.
With all the other kinds of racism being talked about today and over which many
protests and riots have taken place, it is easy for us to see how there was so much hatred
between the Jews and Gentiles of Old Testament times and in Jesus’ and Paul’s day. All
people come from one set of parents— Adam and Eve— or Noah and his wife is another
answer—, but God had chosen the Jews to have special blessings not given to the
Canaanites, Chaldeans or Cushites. For the Jews, “theirs is the adoption as sons, theirs
the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship, and the
promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of
Christ” (Ro 9:4,5).
These blessings were not, however, to exclude the Gentiles from the rights of
redemption. God wanted them saved also as he said through the prophet Hosea, “I will
call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who
is not my loved one” (Ro 9:25).
We have all learned it from little on, but sometimes we forget— accidentally???
or purposely???: “God so loved the world” (Jn 3:16). Jew or Gentile, black or white,
male or female, Christian or Muslim, Jesus lived perfectly as substitute for all of us, died
innocently for the salvation of all of us and rose from the dead as Savior for all of us!
Paul, himself a Jew by birth and former Jew by faith, longed for his people to
return to God and to his saving promises. Here he wrote, Inasmuch as I am the apostle
to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse
my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the
reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
The Jews rejected Jesus as their Savior. They looked for a Savior to come, but
when he came as a beggarly baby born in Bethlehem, they balked at him because they
expected and wanted a King born in Jerusalem. They took their trust in the promises of
God and turned it inward to their own good deeds, relying on their own merit to attain
perfection and a place in paradise.
The Apostle Paul wanted them back in God’s family of faith. He wanted them to
be saved. He wanted them to be assured of life from the dead.
So does God! For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he
may have mercy on them all. We cannot save ourselves because we are all sinful. Only
God can save! Only God does save by his mercy showered on all people. “All have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Ro 3:23).
As God and the Apostle Paul wanted the Jews in God’s Church, so do we, even
though they are currently on the other side of the ball, spiritually and eternally speaking!
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as
election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts
and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God
have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now
3 become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of
God’s mercy to you.
When God calls people to faith and gives his gifts, he does not regret it. He
extended his love and forgiveness and salvation to the Jews many centuries ago. He still
wants them— all of them— to be in his Church, among those who believe and are saved!
God has called us and given us his gifts. God’s Church is meant for you! Do you
have Jewish heritage? Did you grow up as an unbeliever? Are you a longtime member
of Grace or just joining us today?
God’s Church is meant for you! You didn’t earn it by your good works or your
good looks. God invited you in. God gave you his grace through the gift of his own dear
Son who shed his blood for you. God made his mercy rain down on you more heavily
than the downpours Hurricane Laura leveled at Louisiana.
Your baptism assures you of that. Communion reminds you of that. God’s Word
promises you that.
With that same measure of mercy God used to call you and me into his Church,
he wants us to call others. Is there an unbelieving Jew who lives next door to you? How
about an expressive evolutionist working in your department? Will you host a birthday
meal for a family member and his significant other who are living together without the
commitment of marriage? Make known to them God’s mercy as he calls us out for our
disobedience, as he forgives all sins, and as he directs us to a life of obedience spelled out
in his Holy Scriptures. Remember, as we learned in today’s first lesson, even Rahab— a
prostitute— was called to be part of God’s Church and even to be an ancestor to our
Who invited you...into God’s Church— the family of believers, the band bound
for heaven? God did! Be grateful that he did, not by your merit, but only by his mercy!
Make that same mercy known to others so they, too, can be part of God’s Church with us.