How often do we think the door of salvation is shut on us? In our heart, we griever over our own unworthiness and believe we are so unlovable even God has turned his back on us… God doesn’t give up on anybody, including me… Let’s not slam the door in God’s face. The (bad) joke is told of the two guys that were going door to door to tell people about the love of God. One woman opened the door, figured out the guys were Christians, yelled and said, “I don’t need any of your preaching” and she slammed the door only to have it swing back at her. This made her mad, so she yelled “get your foot out of the door” and before they could budge she slammed the door again only to have it swing back open. Before she could wind up a third time, one of the guys quickly said, “Before you slam the door again, you should probably move your cat!”
No matter how hard we slam the door, the Lord will never let it completely close. “Did the Jews mess up so completely that the door can never be open again to salvation again” is the question the people were asking Paul. No. Not at all. And he hasn’t shut the door on you, either. God still believes in you. Nobody is hopeless!
Salvation is open to everyone. READ Rom. 11:11b. Here’s my simple thinking on the issue of Jews and Gentiles... The Jews are the chosen people, to me, the really important point is what the Jews were chosen by God for… they were not chosen to be loved more by God, or even to be saved as God’s priority, they were chosen to be a blessing to all nations (the gentiles), that is part of the original promise to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation (Gen. 12:1-3)….
When sin entered the world through Adam, God made a plan to save people, to find a way for them to be made right with God once again; he chose the Jews to help bring about salvation for all people. The gentiles are not a default people … when the Jews rejected Christ they were rejecting the privilege of being the beacon of light to tell the world the good news that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. “…because of their transgressions” in Rom. 11:11 means something like, “my plan of salvation is going forward with or without the Jews being fully on board with the honor they were given...” You can slice and dice Rom. 11:11-12 anyway you want, but the bottom line is that God isn’t giving up on anybody, not Jews, not gentiles, nobody is hopeless ~ the Jews gave up their privilege by rejecting Jesus but the message came to the Gentiles anyway, and now gentiles have an opportunity to share the good news with the Jewish people (and everyone else). God’s purposes will not be stopped!
Take a closer look at the word envy (Rom. 11:11). We think that’s a bad word. Think again. It’s bad if we are trying to impress people with the wrong things, our own status, how much money we have. I know it’s hard for people not to be extremely envious of my dashingly handsome good looks, my sharp wit, my golden tongue, my brilliant mind, my perfect children, my beautiful wife…those are the sorts of competitive things that get us in trouble, when I start envying you for your house, your money, your opportunities, your life, your privileges… But there is a sense in which I want to live my life in such a way that people are envious of the peace that comes with knowing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. You’ve probably never thought about making people envious as a form of evangelism, but here it is…I want people to want the Lord Jesus Christ that they see in me!
For the people in my life that have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, I hope and pray that they do see something in my life that they want! How I conduct myself. A peace that goes beyond understanding. This is a good thing: I have been amazed these last few months in watching the entire Bos and Hammingh families walk through the illness, diagnosis, optimism, acceptance and death of Doug Bos ~ I hope there are those that are able to look in from the outside and say to themselves, “How do they do it? This faith thing is amazing.” // Connie DeBoer has an incredible faith as she grieves over the loss of her brother. At the memorial service she spoke so eloquently, and she doesn’t like speaking in public, a very funny story, but I have vowed to never tease her about talking because I know that somehow the Holy Spirit was with her and it was a holy moment. I hope there are friends of her brother, and maybe even family that are able to say WOW, she has something. Maybe you don’t like the word envy, but it’s the word chosen by God. The thing about being envious of salvation, unlike being envious of a good job, money, things… when somebody is envious of the peace of Christ they see in me or you ~ they can have the same gift, the same relationship, the same joy, the same confidence in the face of problems. If you are jealous of my good looks, I don’t know how to make you look better, but if you are envious of the peace I have in my life, let’s talk about the Lord Jesus Christ and the difference he makes. The door is open for you… you can have the very same relationship with the Lord… the door is open…
A Flood of people turning to the Lord is coming! There is every reason to be optimistic. Listen to this prophecy of Paul that is still working out: READ 11:13-15. In the midst of a discouraging world Paul chooses to believe the promise of God and the vision of a coming day when Jews and Gentiles will experience the reconciliation of the Lord in an unprecedented wave of salvation. Maybe you can relate to the saying I saw on Facebook: “I have PMA, a positive mental attitude, I am Positive, I am Mental, I have Attitude.” PMA for God… Positive, Mental, Attitude for God.
Paul says, OK, I’m called to the gentiles, but I have hope for the Jewish people that I most identify with and I’m not giving up on them because God is not giving up. Seeing gentiles come to the Lord is an amazing privilege, but wait till the Jews start coming in droves and we’ll see the likes of that which the world has never seen ~ “resurrection life.” Call me mental if you want, but I am choosing to have a positive attitude that says we haven’t seen anything yet. God says there are no hopeless cases, so don’t give up on anybody, not yourself, not others, don’t write anybody off…. Reach them by making them jealous of your relationship with Jesus Christ, don’t slam the door, there are no hopeless cases…. Don’t ever give up….
Two powerful truths from these verses ~ maybe one of these is the takeaway you need.
#1: Don’t judge God by the things you see… Paul’s friends in Rome were obviously confused by what they were seeing around them. The Jews were not becoming Christians like they expected and they didn’t know what to do with gentiles that seemed to be playing by different rules of what it meant to be a Christian. Their world made no sense. In my world, when I get tired and discourage, I also become judgmental and can so easily give up on people declaring they are hopeless, too scary, too much history, too [whatever].
Don’t judge God by the things you see. A person who says No today might say Yes tomorrow. There are no hopeless cases with God. There are no people who are so bad that they are beyond the reach of the grace of Almighty God. Don’t look at how bad things are around you and declare, “God has lost the battle.” Don’t give up praying for your friends and loved ones, serving them, showing compassion. Don’t judge God by what you see. Don’t slam the door in God’s face.
#2: God’s Grace is bigger than anything you can imagine…Sometimes we put God in a box and say, “The neighbor to my left could probably be saved, but the neighbor to my right is hopeless.” We usually say that when we judge the sins of one person to be much greater than the sins of another person. If we are honest, we probably like one neighbor more than we like the other. Rom. 11 reminds us that not only is God’s grace far greater than we can imagine, God’s grace is working in ways that would astonish us if we could peek behind the curtain of his eternal purposes. The scarred people that seem so far away….
God will populate heaven with multitudes of people who today are living in rebellion against him. People who don’t fit my mold. If you ask, “Why would God save people like that?” I answer, “Who else does he have to work with?” Sinners constitute the only available population for heaven, and since sinners are all God has to work with, that’s who he showers his grace upon. I know there will be people in eternity that perhaps never do get their life together on this earth, people who have pretty messed up lives: Addictions they can’t break, crimes on their record against human decency…
Before God found you, you were a sinner standing under God’s judgment. When we start closing the door on other people, perhaps we need to pray, “Lord, show me the truth about myself.”/// What a dangerous prayer! If you mean it, God will answer. Ask the Lord to reveal to you the truth about yourself. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show us our weaknesses, our faults, our mistakes, our bad attitudes, our foolish words, our pride, our false humility, our need to run the world, our anger, our bitterness, our lack of mercy, our lack of love, our lack of compassion. If you wait long enough, the Lord will always show you the truth about yourself. I’m so glad there are no hopeless cases. The door is open for anybody, even you, and amazingly, even an undeserving sinner like me.
God’s grace is much bigger than we can even imagine. No hopeless cases.
Someone has said that when we get to heaven, there will be three surprises.
First, we will be surprised that some people are not there that we thought would be there.
Second, we will be surprised that some people are there that we never expected to make it.
Third, our greatest surprise will be that we, ourselves, are there.
What God wants from you is for you to never give up on anybody. Don’t judge God by the things you see. God’s grace is bigger than anything you can imagine. Don’t slam the door in God’s face writing anybody off as hopeless. Salvation is open to all. Let your own life be an example to others of what it means to live for Christ, so that they will become envious and want the same peace. Believe that a flood of surprising people are coming to the Lord. There are no hopeless cases. Amen.