June 28, 2010


The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocableRomans 11.29

There are few things, in this fickle world of ours, that are irrevocable. Doctors can have their certification stripped. Ministers can be defrocked (many times rightfully so!). Drivers can have their licenses taken away. Pensions that were supposed to last a lifetime suddenly vanish. Marriages often dissolve as fast as March snow. And now, even some children are being granted ‘divorces’ from their parents! And, therefore, it is wonderful news to find out that something out there is not revocable; that someone, somewhere really is going to be faithful to the end. And that is, of course, exactly what we have – not only in Romans 11.29, but in all of the Bible. God does not turn back on His promises. He does not revoke His purposes. He never has to start over from scratch. “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.”

Now, of course, Paul says this in the context of several paragraphs in which he has been arguing that God has not forgotten the Jewish people. He called them to Himself in times of old. And now, though so many of them have turned away from Him, He has not forgotten them. There will, again, be a mighty and soul-saving work amongst the Jewish people (see v.26). That is mainly what Paul has in mind when he writes that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” But verse 29 is not limited to a Jewish application. He does not say that God’s gift (singular) to the Jews is irrevocable … but that God’s gifts (plural) are irrevocable. In other words, God is just as faithful to all His people as He will someday prove to have been to the ethnic Jews! So there is great and widespread application to be made from Romans 11.29. Let me mention three things that we should draw from this deep well:

1. God is faithful. That is the main point, isn’t it? Whether he calls a Jew, or an American, or a Nigerian, or a Togolese … God won’t revoke His calling. God won’t renege on His commitment. He will not take away the blessings that have been purchased with precious blood and once for all delivered to the saints. He won’t un-call those who have been called. He is absolutely faithful. In fact, Paul elsewhere stated that even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2.13). God does not change simply because we do. That is the point of 2 Timothy 2.13 … and of Romans 11.

2. We are secure. That is to say, if we are in Christ; if we have truly repented of sin; and if we are really trusting in Christ alone for our salvation (and those are big ifs, to be sure!) … God will not take that salvation away; nor will He allow us to fumble it away! If you are truly in Christ, He who began a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1.6). No one will snatch you out of God’s hand (John 10.28). God will keep you believing in His Son, all your days, by his own power (1 Peter 1.5). If God called you; if God gave you the gift of faith in His Son, He will keep you believing. For “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”!

3. The future is bright. Paul argues, in Romans 11.12 and 15, that if the Jews’ turning away from Christ made marvelous room for the Gentiles to be saved … how much more will their eventual return to Jesus prove a blessing to the Gentiles? He says that the eventual large scale turning of Jews to faith in Christ will be as “life from the dead” to the Gentile world (v.15)! I confess I am not exactly sure what Paul means by “life from the dead”. Some think that the final ingathering of Jews will immediately precede the return of Jesus and the resurrection of His people’s bodies from physical death. Others believe that “life from the dead” is a metaphoric way of say that the eventual repentance of the Jews will be so marvelous that it will set off revival among the rest of the people of God. As I said, I am not sure which Paul means. But I know this – I’m game for either eventuality … the coming of the Holy Spirit in power; or the coming of Jesus in His glory! And therefore I am so excited that Romans 11.29 is true! God has not forgotten the Jews. And, somehow, their turning to Christ is going to mean even greater blessing for the church of Jesus - :life from the dead”! It will happen! Great days are ahead for those who trust in Christ! For “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”!

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