Listen to sermons at





Sermon #101 — Romans Series


Title:                           Who are Israelites


Text:                            Romans 9:1-8

Subject:                     Identifying the Israel of God

Date:                          Sunday Morning — November 6, 2016

Reading:       John 12:20-41



You will find my subject and the title of my message in the 4th verse of Romans chapter 9 — Romans 9:4. The verse opens with a statement that, at first glance, appears to be a question; and that is my subject. — Who are Israelites — Everything God does, he does for Israel. Everything that happens in this world is for Israel. There is nothing written in the Book of God that is not directly connected with Israel. So this subject should be of immense importance to everyone who wants to understand the Word of God and the works of God. — Who are Israelites — Find out who Israel is and you will begin to understand the events, prophecies, and promises of both the Old Testament and the New. — Who are Israelites — That is my subject.

  • Many think that true Israelites are white, Anglo-Saxons.
  • Some even imagine that black Americans are the true Israelites.
  • But most people, the vast majority of religious people and irreligious alike, think an Israelite is someone from the nation of Israel, a person descended from Abraham.


This issue is relevant to our lives socially and politically, as well as spiritually, because there is a huge effort in our day, particularly in the United States and to a lesser degree in England, to convince people that the political state of Israel has a Divine right to that piece of ground referred to as “the Holy Land” at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. This obsession with Israel’s right to “the Holy Land” has its roots in the heresies of dispensational theology, made popular by the Scofield Reference Bible. This is the one place where political liberals and the political conservatives are commonly in agreement.


Let me give you an example. — Back in October 1994, President Bill Clinton, in a speech before the Israeli Knesset, declared, — “It is God’s will that Israel, the Biblical home of the people of Israel, continue forever and ever.” He concluded his speech saying, “Your journey is our journey, and America will stand with you now and always.” Mr. Clinton prefaced those statements by citing the words of his pastor back in Arkansas to him. His pastor told him, “If you abandon Israel, God will never forgive you.”


I don’t think anyone would accuse Mr. Clinton of being a conservative, or of being terribly concerned about the teachings of the Bible. Yet, his political notions regarding the State of Israel are exactly the same as those promoted by most of the liberal, conservative, and fundamentalist religions, theologians, preachers, and religious leaders of world. Both our nation’s political leaders and our nation’s religious leaders, who are at odds on most issues, believe that the Jewish nation is the centerpiece of God’s purpose and the apple of his eye.


Multitudes read the Bible with that idea fixed in their minds. Thinking that the Jewish nation is the centerpiece of God’s purpose and the apple of his eye, when they read of God’s covenant promises and the prophecies of the Scriptures relating to Israel, they ignorantly presume that those promises and prophecies must have reference to the Jewish state. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Who are Israelites — Does the Word of God tell us plainly who they are? Indeed, it does, in many places. In fact, the answer is so obvious, that one must wonder why anyone is confused about the matter. As I said, Israelites are distinctly identified in many places in Holy Scripture; and they are distinctly identified in our text — Romans 9:1-8.


Paul’s Sorrow


This chapter begins with Paul’s great heaviness and sorrow of heart for the physical descendants of Abraham.


(Romans 9:1-3) “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, (2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. (3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”


Those words are an expression of Paul’s intense love and concern for his people, the Jews, his own kinsmen, and his great desire that they might be saved (Romans 10:1). He could not bear the thought of people he loved people perishing under the wrath of God.


(Romans 10:1) “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.”


This man, Paul, so loved the souls of men, especially his own kinsmen, the Jews, that he was willing to die to see them saved. He lived as a martyr, laying down his life in the cause of Christ, dying daily that others might be saved (Acts 20:22-24; 21:8-14). Yet, he knew what was about to happen. Because he knew the prophets, he knew that the Jewish nation was about to be destroyed. — (Read Deuteronomy 28:49-68 and Isaiah 6:9-12.) The whole of Romans 9, 10, and 11 is a declaration of the fact that God has cast off that physical nation, that he might gather in his elect from every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue of Adam’s race.


When Paul thought about the casting way of the Jews, it was more than he could bear. His brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh, were about to perish under the wrath of God. His people, his nation was about to suffer the consequence of their sin. Paul was not a man of stone! When he thought on these things, his heart broke within him. — (Read Romans 9:1-3 again.)


(Romans 9:1-3) “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, (2) That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. (3) For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”


This is the cry of a man who loved immortal souls running headlong to hell. This is the cry of a man who had been in the same condition and under the same curse. This is the cry of a man who knew what lay ahead. Like Moses before him, Paul put himself between God and his own guilty kinsmen, and says, “I could wish that I might be cut off and slain by my Lord, for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” — This is the cry of a loving, heavy, broken, helpless heart for poor, lost, doomed, damned sinners who were dear to his heart!


Paul knew his helplessness. He was as helpless to save his brethren as they were to save themselves. In these 9th, 10th, and 11th chapters of Romans he is telling us all that, “Salvation is of the Lord!

  • Salvation comes by God’s sovereign purpose, not by the will of man.
  • Salvation comes by God’s sovereign grace, not by heredity, or rituals, or works.
  • Salvation is found only in God’s dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • And Paul’s kinsmen had rejected, despised, and crucified God’s Son. They would not believe on Christ. Therefore, Paul was in great heaviness and sorrow of heart for them.


Wasted Privileges


Next, in verses 4 and 5, Paul shows us what wasted, misused, misspent privileges the Jews had. — Remember, in verses 4 and 5, Paul is not asking a question, but stating a fact. These two verses are a continuation of the sentence begun in verse 3.


(Romans 9:3-5) “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: ——— (4) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; (5) Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.


Jesus of Nazareth, came into this world through the nation of Israel. He is Abraham’s promised Seed, the Christ of God. And this man is…

Š      God!

Š      Sovereign Over All as God!

Š      God Blessed Forever!

He came unto his own, and his own received him not!

This is the thing that troubled Paul so much concerning the Jews. They had such extraordinary privileges, and were now cast away, reprobate, and damned as a nation, because they refused to receive the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of men, was one of their race, bone of their bone, flesh of their flesh. Yet they would not have him, or be saved by him. Oh, the terrible hardness of the human heart! What poor things the greatest privileges are unless the grace of God goes with them to give us faith in Christ! — Be warned! Come to Christ, now! Trust him, now! Receive him, now!


(John 1:11-13) “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”


(2 Corinthians 5:17-6:2) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. —— (1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)


Purpose Sure


After expressing such great heaviness and sorrow, the Apostle seems to brace himself up, he seems to console his own heart, as he assures himself and us (in verses 6-8) that God’s purpose is sure. God’s elect shall be saved.


(Romans 9:6-8) “Not as though the Word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: (7) Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. (8) That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”


Paul says here exactly the same thing David did, by which he consoled himself upon his deathbed.


(2 Samuel 23:5) “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.”


And this is the very same thing Paul stated back in the 3rd chapter of this Epistle.


(Romans 3:3-4) “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? (4) God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”


The blessings of God’s grace do not come to anyone according to carnal descent. Yes, God promised to bless the seed of Abraham, but Paul uses that word seed in a very special sense. — Abraham’s seed is Christ. And Abraham’s seed is all the host of God’s elect.

Š      God promised salvation to his elect before the worlds were made.

Š      Christ came here to redeem and save God’s elect, taking on him the seed of Abraham (Hebrews2:16).

Š      God’s elect shall be saved.


If my dear, dear kinsmen perish, if those I love, those for whom I would at this moment lay down my life, if that might be used of God to cause them to trust my Savior, if they perish under the wrath of God, it will be because they have refused to trust the Lord Jesus Christ.

Š      God’s word of promise, God’s purpose, God’s decree will not be altered.

Š      God’s elect will yet be saved.

Š      God, the God of all the earth, will still be right and just, faithful and true, good, and wise, and gracious.


Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. God passed by Ishmael (his firstborn) and chose Isaac. And Abraham bowed to God, worshipped God, and devoted his whole life to God because of his great goodness, mercy, love, and grace heaped upon him. — God, my God, give me grace to walk in the steps of faithful Abraham!


I am talking, now, about Abraham’s spiritual seed, the Israel of God, not Abraham’s physical seed, the civil, political nation of Israel, or the Jewish race. God’s Israel is God’s Church, his elect, those who are the true circumcision, those who are the children of God’s promise.


Israelites Identified


Now, let me wrap this message up by showing you from the Word of God who are Israelites. It is my hope that I am numbered among them; and it is my hope and prayer before God that you may be found among them. — Here are seven things by which “the Israel of God” are identified in the Book of God.


1.    Israelites, true Israelites, are the people of God’s loving choice and sovereign election (Psalm 135:4).


(Psalms 135:4) “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.”


Ishmael was as much the son of Abraham as Isaac was; but Ishmael was not an Israelite. He was cast out, and Isaac was blessed. So it was with Jacob and Esau. — God said, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13). Esau was as much a son of Abraham physically as Jacob was; but he was not a part of Israel. Israel is the people of God’s free, eternal love and unconditional election.


2.    Israelites, the Israel of God, are a people peculiarly, particularly, and effectually redeemed by the blood of Christ our Passover, who was sacrificed for us at Calvary (Exodus 12-15; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Isaiah 53:4-12).


(Isaiah 53:4-12) “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (8) He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”


3.    Israelites, the sons of Jacob, are the people of special revelation (Genesis 28:10-17). The Lord revealed himself to Jacob at Bethel. — Christ the Ladder — The only Mediator between God and man.


(Genesis 28:10-17) “And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. (11) And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. (12) And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. (13) And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; (14) And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. (15) And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. (16) And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. (17) And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”


4.    Israelites, “the Israel of God,” the sons of Jacob, are those people converted by God’s omnipotent mercy and irresistible grace (Genesis 32:24-31). — Grace conquered Jacob, forced him to acknowledge himself and surrender to Christ. Grace gave him a new name. Grace changed his life and caused him to consecrate himself to God.


(Genesis 32:24-31) “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. (25) And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. (26) And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. (27) And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. (28) And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (29) And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. (30) And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. (31) And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.”


5.    Israelites, true Israelites, are the people of distinct and peculiar, God-given faith in Christ (Philippians 3:3).


(Philippians 3:3) “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”


6.    Israelites are the people of God’s peculiar care, the apple of his eye (Genesis 28:15). — “I am with thee.” — “I will keep thee.” — “I will not leave thee.” — “And he blessed him” (Genesis 32:29; Ephesians 1:3).


(Ephesians 1:3-7) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”


7.    Israelites are those people God has sworn to save Israel because “he delighteth in mercy” and he is faithful to his covenant (Micah 7:18-20; Romans 11:25-27).


(Micah 7:18-20) “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. (19) He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (20) Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”


(Romans 11:25-27) “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (26) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (27) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”


Israel shall be saved in the Lord! — Those words declare both the certain salvation of God’s elect and the method, or means of their salvation. — God’s elect, Israel, every Israelite, shall assuredly be saved. The text does not read, “Israel may be saved,” but “Israel shall be saved!” The one who said this is God Almighty, “the Lord God of the Hebrews.”!

  • It is the will of God that they be saved; and his will cannot be resisted (Isaiah 14:24, 26, 27; 46:10).
  • They have been purchased by Christ; and what he purchased he cannot lose (1 Peter 1:18-20).
  • The Holy Spirit is the Earnest, Pledge, and Seal of their salvation; and the seal of the Spirit cannot be broken (Ephesians 1:18).


God declares absolutely, “Israel shall be saved!” This is an infallible fact, secured by the immutability of God himself (Malachi 3:6). Whatever may become of others, “Israel shall be saved! No matter what difficulties or dangers lie in the way, no matter what conspiracies are hatched in hell to prevent it, the promise of God stands and cannot be nullified. — “Israel shall be saved!”


Notice the next words In the Lord! God’s elect are saved, not in themselves. Their destruction is in themselves! They are saved “in the Lord!” — Saved because they are “in the Lord.”

Š      Chosen in him!

Š      Redeemed in him!

Š      Justified in him!

Š      Represented in him!

Š      Sanctified in him!

Š      Kept in him!

Š      In him!


In the Lord shall all the house of Israel be justified, and shall glory (Isaiah 45:25).

Š      We are saved by the merits of his blood.

Š      We are saved by the efficacy of his grace.

Š      We are saved by the power of his intercession.

Š      Not a word about our “freewill”!

Š      Not a word about our “good works”!

Salvation is of the Lord!” — “By the grace of God I am what I am!


Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation” (Isaiah 45:17). — How sweet those words are! Lest we should limit our expectations to some temporal, earthly benefit, lest we should be slow of heart to believe God’s Word, he asserts his promise of grace in terms as strong and energetic as language can afford or imagination can conceive. — “Israel shall be saved in the Lord with everlasting salvation!” This truth is confirmed on every page of Holy Scripture. God uses the richest variety of expression to assure us of his grace and establish our faith. — Everlasting salvation is perfect, perpetual, complete salvation. Nothing can be added to it; and nothing can be taken from it (Ecclesiastes 3:14).


Every believer may rightfully lay claim to all that God himself can give in time and eternity in the name of Christ. — “The Lord will give grace and glory!” We shall never be disappointed of our hope in time or in eternity. The believer’s blessedness begins the moment he believes in Christ, and endures forever! The salvation that God performs is “everlasting salvation!

Š      Forgiveness is everlasting!

Š      Justification is Everlasting!

Š      Adoption is everlasting!

Š      Acceptance is everlasting!

Š      Preservation is everlasting!

Š      There are no variables to be considered!


Ye shall not be ashamed, nor confounded, world without end! — Quite literally, the text reads, “Ye shall not be ashamed, nor confounded, unto the ages of eternity!” — “The Scripture saith, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:13). Trust Christ, and you shall never be ashamed. Trust Christ, and you shall not be confounded. — You shall not be ashamed of Christ.

Š      His Gospel.

Š      His ordinances.

Š      Your faith in him.

Š      His people.

Š      His sufferings.


You shall not be confounded. Your hope and faith shall not be a matter of confusion to you, and you shall never be brought into confusion.

Š      In life.

Š      In death.

Š      At the Bar of God.

Š      To all eternity.

Š      Romans 8: 32-39


Would you have this “everlasting salvation”? Trust Christ (Isaiah 45:22).


(Isaiah 45:22) “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”


Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord (Deuteronomy 33:29).

Š      You may meet with many troubles on your way to glory; but you shall survive them!

Š      You may often be tossed about in the tempest; but you will not perish!

Š      You may suffer the loss of all earthly comforts; but God’s Word will not be broken!

Š      You may fall many times; but God’s mercy is sure!


This is God’s Word to you. — “Israel shall be saved in the Lord with everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end!” Why? Why must Israel be saved in the Lord with everlasting salvation? Turn to one more passage, and I will show you — Galatians 3:13-14.


(Galatians 3:13-14) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”








Don Fortner








Pastor Fortner’s


Audio Sermons

Video Sermons