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Understanding Romans 11
In this chapter God the Holy Ghost openly reveals the mysterious designs and purposes of God both toward Jews and toward Gentiles. It pleased God for four thousand years to confine the knowledge of himself to Shem’s seed: Abraham and his physical descendants. But, because of the hardness of their hearts, in just judgment God cast them off and sent the gospel of his grace and salvation in Christ to the Gentiles, that he might gather his elect from the four corners of the earth.
Yet, he still has an elect remnant among the Jews, Abraham’s physical seed. And in due season it is his purpose to restore, to bring again, that elect remnant to himself. The purpose of God according to election stands firm. — “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (v. 29). Understand this, and rejoice. — “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance!” The gifts of the covenant (Ephesians 1:3-6), the gifts of salvation (John 10:26-28), the callings of grace are all without repentance. God never changes his mind. God never alters his purpose. God does not change and cannot change. That is our security (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).
Judgment and Grace
Paul says, with regard to the Jews who have been cast away, “God hath concluded them all in unbelief.” He has shut them out and shut them up in unbelief, and did so justly because of the hardness of their hearts. The physical seed of Abraham, the nation of Israel, is blinded by divine judgment and shut out from God. But that does not imply any change in God.
God’s purpose in doing this is “that he might have mercy upon all.” That is to say, that he might extend the boundaries of his grace to include his spiritual seed, his elect, throughout the world. God has cut off the natural branches. And in cutting them off, he fulfills his purpose of grace to gather his elect out of every nation to himself in Christ.
All Israel Saved
“And so all Israel shall be saved!” — Those words of promise do not suggest or imply in any way that all Jews, all Abraham’s physical seed, will be saved. Rather, the Spirit of God declares in verse 26 that all God’s chosen, all his elect, all his covenant people, called “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16, shall be saved. Every sinner loved and chosen of God from eternity, every person blessed of God in Christ with all the blessings of covenant grace before the world began (Ephesians 1:3-6), and every sinner redeemed by Christ’s precious blood at Calvary (Galatians 3:13-14) shall be saved by the grace of God.
As the inspired apostle wrote about this wondrous mystery of God’s wise, adorable, and good providence, doing all things for the salvation of his elect, to the praise of his own glory, he could not contain himself. His heart erupted in praise to the God of all grace saying, “To him be glory forever. Amen!”