The Remnant of Israel

God's Choice

Pastor Jerry Gillis - May 29, 2022

Community Group Study Notes


  1. Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passages and main idea of the message. 

  1. How has this sermon (or this whole series) confirmed and/or corrected your previous ideas about God’s choice? 

  1. Paul used his own existence to demonstrate that God did not reject Israel. How is your own life an example of God’s mercy and grace? Be as specific as possible. 

  1. Read Romans 11:1-6. Do you have any reservations in your heart that God won’t reject or abandon His people? Do you ever struggle to trust God’s purposes? What do you do when you struggle to trust Him? 

  1. Consider your relationships with other believers. In what ways does your life cause jealousy in others for a relationship with God? (Remember to define “jealousy” as it was defined in the message.) Is there anything you say or do in your interactions with others that may prevent them from seeking a relationship with God? If not, why not?  

  1. In what ways can you apply today’s message to your life?  


Action Step 

  • Reflect on this question: Do you believe that the best is yet to come in Jesus? Consider how this influences your relationship with Jesus and the way you live your life now. Write a prayer of reflection on these ideas.  


Mobilization Challenge 


Choose a Serve Challenge. The goal is ultimately to have a relationship-building conversation, not just to perform an act of service. But don’t force a conversation where there isn’t one; focus on being faithful and serving others, and the conversation will come in time.  


Serve Challenges 

  • Mow and Grow: If you see a neighbor’s lawn needs a little TLC, help them out. Pull some weeds, trim the grass, and run your sprinkler generously.  

  • Dirty Jobs: if you’re wheeling back your garbage totes from the curb, wheel back your neighbors’ totes too. If you live in an apartment, offer to take your neighbor’s trash out when you’re heading that way.  

  • Breaking Bread: Invite a neighbor over for a meal, even something simple like hot dogs or hamburgers. If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, say something like: "We've lived here for 5 years, and we've never said more than hi to each other! Let's change that! Our place is a bit crazy, but if you don't mind the mess, join us!" 

  • Food Collection: go door to door, or if you have a neighbor's phone number, tell them you are coming before showing up. Ask for one or two cans of food that they might have in their pantry to take to a local outreach (e.g. City Mission) or food bank. Start a conversation if there is one to be had! 

  • Be creative: how has someone served you in the past? Do that for someone else. Offer to wash a neighbor's car, walk their dog, help with a project they are doing, rake a lawn...whatever you can think of that helps to serve someone. When all else fails, ask! Say something like: “Our church challenged us to spend more time serving others in our community: is there anything I can to help out or be a better neighbor?”  


Sermon Transcript

Well, good morning to everybody at all of our campuses or watching online. So glad to see you this morning. We know on this weekend, there's a number of people traveling, so some more than normal may be watching us online. So glad that you are with us. Thank you. I've always liked space. I don't know if any of you are kind of space junkies, and I've always liked it. I don't know more than the average person about space, so I'm not a space expert. I'm not a space nerd. I mean, I may be a nerd, but I'm just not a space nerd. But I like it. I don't see every movie that ever comes out that's about space, but if it is about space, I pay attention and I'm kind of curious and like it. So again, I'm not an expert. I don't play one on television when it comes to space. I just like it. There's this event that happens in space called a supernova, and a supernova is essentially the explosion of a star, of a big star, and it's kind of a cool thing to see or to look at, and it just explodes. I mean, I don't know how often it does these things. I don't know how often supernovas actually happen, but it just, it explodes, and then there is this debris field that comes from this exploding star, and it's interesting because they call this a supernova remnant. In other words, it's what's left over after the explosion and the dissolution of the star, and it has this kind of reformed core afterwards, and it's got this debris field around it, and they call it a supernova remnant. And what's interesting about that is it's functionally the leftovers of a star, right, that was in play and now is not, and it also, even though it kind of reforms the core of what it is, it attracts some stuff, so it's not just the leftovers, but it attracts some other things as well, and what's interesting about it is that not terribly long after the supernova remnant is a thing, it's actually emitting more energy. Think about this. It actually emits more energy in one day than our Sun could emit in 3 million years. That's remarkable, isn't it? Like you just start nerding out, going, that's crazy. It releases more energy in one day than our Sun could do in 3 million years. That is really astounding. Now, the reason that I'm thinking about that is because what it reminds me of, you see things like that maybe on a television show or whatever, or, you know, kind of a history channel, and your "Nova," whatever. You know, you're talking about all these space things. What reminds me of is that God is not concerned at any point about using leftovers, ever. He's not freaking out and saying, "It's a star. Now I can't do anything with it, 'cause it exploded." Well, he can use leftovers. In fact, he can actually use it maybe in even more significant ways, potentially. Who knows? And I'm reminded of that because what we read when we get to Romans chapter 11, we've been studying Romans 9, 10, and 11, talking about the nature of God's sovereign choice and sovereign choices in the world. When we get to Romans chapter 11, we should at least have in our minds that God has the capacity and the capability to not just use the big, but to use the small, to use what is present, and then when what is present is not functioning as it should, to use a remnant. You see, God can do this and God does this, and in Romans chapter 11, we're kind of anticipating, or Paul is anticipating people who may have concerns about what exactly is happening with Israel. In other words, God's promises. Is God gonna be faithful to his promises, because Israel has largely rejected the gospel? So is God going to reject Israel? Has God said no to them, because they've said no to him? And is the fact that Israel, this people that God has chosen to use in the world, this fact that the people has, generally speaking, largely rejected God, does this thwart God's eternal purposes for salvation in the world? Has this messed up God's plan? Because now, this people that he's chosen has largely rejected him, has this thrown everything into disarray? I think you know the answer to that question, but Paul's going to address it, because Paul has some readers that are probably concerned about all of these things, and that's why he begins chapter 11 with a simple question. Here's what it is. "I ask then, did God reject his people?" That's how he begins this dialogue in Romans chapter 11. Now that's because, in Romans chapter 10, which we talked about last week, that chapter finishes by talking about Israel being a disobedient and an obstinate people, a people who have largely rejected the good news of the gospel and the offer of hope in Jesus Christ, that they have largely rejected that. And so what Paul does is he anticipates the question that's coming, and he says, "I ask then, did God reject his people?" And he answers it very directly. "Did God reject his people? By no means." God has not rejected Israel. "By no means." Now, what we're going to do, kind of the rest of this passage that we'll be studying here is really an outworking of the answer to that question, and the answer to the question, you're saying, "Well, it seems like a pretty simple question, did God reject Israel, and it seems like it's a pretty simple answer, by no means." It is. It's a straightforward answer, and then Paul's gonna give reasons for that answer, why God did not reject his people, but it also comes with a caveat, with a nuanced addendum, maybe we could say, and we'll see that as we start to work through the text a little bit, because Romans and just the book as a whole is pretty gnarly. It's rich in teaching and it's rich in theology, and Romans 9 through 11 are the chapters that, when people are preaching through Romans, they go chapter one through chapter eight and then chapter 12 through the rest of the book. Romans 9, 10, and 11, often people go, "Yeah, I'm skipping that," you know, because it is rich and it is a bit gnarly. So the answer to the question, we'll set it up this way, all right? The simple question, did God reject Israel? The answer, no, with an exclamation point, right? Paul said, "By no means." So we're just gonna answer that question. Do God reject Israel? The answer is no. And Paul is going to give reasons for that. In fact, there are really four specific reasons Paul says that you can know that Israel has not been rejected by God. And the first is, reason number one, I'll say, is Paul himself. Paul offers himself as a reason that God has not rejected Israel. Look with me again in verse number one. He says, "I ask then, did God reject his people? By no means." Listen to this. "I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin." So what Paul is doing is he's saying, "Do you know why I can tell you and promise you that God has not rejected Israel? I'm Israel. I'm an Israelite. God has not rejected me. I am a descendant of Abraham. I am of the tribe of Benjamin. I'm all Israelite all day." And Paul actually talked about that in others of his writings, and I've referenced this before. Paul knows full well that he is of this people Israel, and they are, some of them, talking about and asking the question, as are others, has God rejected Israel, because Israel has rejected largely God? Paul's saying, "No. You know why? I'm Israel. I am an Israelite." But you may remember that Paul said this in the book of Philippians. He said, "Though I myself have reasons for such confidence in the flesh. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. I was circumcised on the eighth day, I am of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, I persecuted the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." We talked about that a number of messages ago, that Paul wasn't putting his value in his ethnic identity or in his personal righteousness by works, but instead was putting all of the value on Christ by his grace. But what Paul's also affirming in that passage, as he does in a number of places, right, he affirms that, "This is who I am. I am an Israelite, and the reason that I know that God has not rejected or abandoned or forsaken his people, it's because I am one of them, and God by his grace has captivated my life and transformed me." So that's reason number one. Did God reject his people? No. Why? Because Paul says, "I'm offering myself as an illustration," right? Reason number two, God's foreknowledge. This is also why we can answer the question, why Paul answers the question, did God reject his people? By no means. Why? Because of God's foreknowledge. Look at the very beginning of verse number two. "God did not reject his people whom he foreknew," all right? Now, the word foreknew in the Greek language is proginosko, okay? Sometimes I say it well, sometimes I don't. We've got Greek-speaking people in our congregation that know, and so they'll say, "Well, this is really how you say this better." And I totally understand. Biblical Greek is a little different than, you know, kind of present-day Greek, but proginosko is kind of the idea to know something beforehand. That's really what the idea of the word means, right? It's where we get the word foreknowledge, to know something before it happens, to know something beforehand. And what Paul's saying here is he's not just talking about that God hasn't rejected his people because he sees how they're all going to respond in advance, even though God certainly does. I mean, he's all-knowing, right? This is more about that God foreknew his people because God is the one who initiated the birth of Israel. God is the one who made a covenant with Abraham. When Abraham didn't have any children, didn't have any hope for any having any children, was super old, had already cashed out all his Social Security, right? Then, you know, that's Abraham and Sarah. They're beyond the point of having children at this point, right? And God says, "I'm gonna make a great nation out of you, and I'm doing this because of my own choice, my own free will. This is not about you, Abraham. This is about me. I'm just choosing you, and I am going to work through you, and I'm gonna create a people for myself, and out of that people, the seed of Abraham, is going to come one that is going to rescue the world. That's what I'm going to do." When the Bible talks about it and when Paul talks about right here, God did not reject his people whom he foreknew, he's saying this. His argument is this. Why would God initiate the creation of a people that he is using for his glory in his eternal purposes, just to reject them? He wouldn't, because this was God's idea, this was God's choice, and God knows what he's doing all along. So has God rejected his people? Of course not. Paul says, "I'm one of them, for one, and secondly, these are the people that God foreknew." God is the one who knew beforehand what he was going to do, and so would he reject them? No, this was his idea. The third reason is this. The remnant of Israel. The remnant of Israel. This is Paul's third rationale for why God has not rejected Israel. Look in the second part of verse two and following. It says, "Don't you know what scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I'm the only one left, and they're trying to kill me." And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too, at the present time, there is a remnant chosen by grace." You see, Paul is making an additional argument here ultimately about God hasn't rejected his people because there is a remnant of his people that still exists right now that have been transformed by his grace. If you remember earlier in Romans chapter nine, Paul actually used this idea of the remnant, and he used it in the negative, and by negative, I don't mean bad. I mean, he used it kind of in reverse. Here's what he said in Romans 9:27. "Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved." In other words, I had talked to you in that message about how there was an Israel inside of Israel, right? That this was the remnant, the true Israel, right, that had been transformed by his grace, that had received and believed the gospel, even though the larger scale Israel had rejected that. And in Romans 9, he says only the remnant will be saved. It was kind of a warning to greater Israel, right? About their rejection. But here Paul uses that idea of the remnant in the positive sense. He's making the argument that because there is one, instead of making it in the negative sense, of saying, "Hey, Israel, this is a warning. Only the remnant will be saved." Now he's saying, "Wait a minute. God hasn't rejected his people. Do you know why? Because there is a remnant. That's why he hasn't rejected his people." There is a remnant, and Paul is making that case here. Now, that should not be news to us because a remnant has been something that we could trace through the whole of scripture, right? I mean, if you were reading in Genesis chapter number six, and you could find the story of Noah and his family, right? That they were the only ones, they were the remnant that was saved, or you could fast forward to Genesis chapter 19, and you could see Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed, but Lot and his two daughters being saved, it was a remnant that was preserved that was faithful to God. Or you could look at the story of Israel when they were in captivity in Assyria, and how God was ultimately going to use them and bring back and use a portion of Israel, not all of Israel, but a portion of Israel. Here's what it says in Isaiah chapter 10. "In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down, but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God." So it's not just this large group anymore. Now we're talking about a remnant, right? And so this is common through the thread and the theme of what goes on in the scripture, but Paul actually used the illustration of Elijah. You guys remember the story of Elijah, right? There's a lot of stories about Elijah, but the one he's referencing is when Elijah was there, and it was during a time where Israel was led by King Ahab and his wife, who was lovely, Jezebel. He had them, right? You hear the word Jezebel and you go, "No, not cool, not good," right? It just immediately means that, right? So Ahab and his wife, who was just, you know, awful, and there's really, Israel is being led into idolatry and has been led into idolatry. And so Isaiah takes them on at Mount Carmel, and at Mount Carmel, he has this contest and he challenges the prophets of Baal. There are 450 prophets of Baal and there are 400 prophets of Asherah, and Elijah takes them on and says, "Well, let's see whose god is really God. Is it Yahweh or is it Baal? Let's see. 'Cause your God is supposed to be able to deal in fire, so let's just, let's do that, then. If your god can deal in fire, let's see what he's got. We'll put something here on the altar, we'll put a sacrifice here on the altar, and let's see what he's got. Go for it." And then they started doing all their stuff and they were cutting each other, and you know, cutting themselves and chanting and doing all kinds of stuff. And then Elijah, you know, he basically starts mocking them. "Everything good? Seems like nothing's happening. Maybe your god's on vacation. Maybe he's indisposed, using the restroom." Literally, it does say that, by the way, in the Hebrew. Maybe he's just stuck in the bathroom, and you know, like stomach issues, can't really do the fire thing right now. I don't know. So what's the problem? And then I, and then they were like, "Okay, let's see what you've got." And then Elijah kind of realizes, he goes to God and he's like, "God, I'm gonna be in big, big trouble if you do not deliver the fire from heaven and consume this." And I mean, he'd already put like water on it and everything, you know, which is not good for fire, by the way, and he's like, "Oh yeah, he'll he'll come through," and God does. He comes through, he demonstrates his glory, but then right after this incredible victory, literally Elijah by himself against 850 false prophets, and he's victorious, and right after that, he gets word from one woman named Jezebel, who says, "I am going to kill you," and he freaks. He literally goes off into the wilderness under a broom tree, and says, "I've had enough, Lord. I want to die." He's exhausted. He feels alone. He's depleted. You think to yourself, when you look at it and I look at it, you kind of go, "Wait a second." You just took on 850 false prophets and won, and then this lady tells you she wants to kill you, and you're like, "I'm done." But he was exhausted. He's fried. And so God helps him, sends an angel, gives him something to eat, tells him to take a nap. Sometimes the best thing you can do is that, right? Eat something, take a nap, get some rest, and he does. And God says, "I want you to go over to Mount Horeb," and he does, and God then begins to speak to him. And notice the question that is posed to him in 1 Kings. You can find this in 1 Kings chapter 19. Then a voice said to Elijah, "What are you doing here? What are you doing here, Elijah?" And the notice Elijah's response. He replied, "I've been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites," listen to this. "The Israelites have rejected your covenant. They've torn down your altars and they put your prophets to death with the sword. I'm the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me too." In other words, Elijah's saying, "God, you have a problem. I'm the only one left. Israel has just failed you, and I'm it." Notice how God responds. "I've reserved 7,000 in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him." "Hey Elijah, you're not alone. There's more. I know it's not all of Israel, but don't worry. I've got a remnant, and I know what to do with them. I know how to use them. Don't worry." This is what Paul is actually arguing right here. Paul is arguing, Paul says, "I'm offering myself as an argument that God hasn't rejected Israel, because I'm in Israelite, but there's more of me. There's more of me around. There's other apostles and you know who they are? They're Jewish, and they've been transformed. I could take you back to the church at Jerusalem that was founded in a moment. 3,000 Jews that came to faith in Jesus Christ, right then. There's more of us. There's a remnant." And do you know what was interesting about that remnant? It was powerful. It was powerful. We think to ourselves, this star that we call Israel has largely rejected, but as that star disintegrates, there is a reformed group called a remnant. It is a supernova remnant that may have actually been emitting way more power, way more power than what was originally. God knows what to do with this, and it's a reason that God has not rejected Israel, because not only did Paul say, "Look at me," he also says, "What about God's foreknowledge?" And then he says, "And keep in mind that there is a remnant. There is more than me. God hasn't rejected his people." And then he gives a fourth illustration of that. Sovereign grace. A fourth reason that God has not rejected Israel is because of God's own sovereign grace. Notice what the verse says in verses five and six. "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." So he says, "I can tell you why God has not abandoned his people, because his sovereign grace has chosen this remnant, and this remnant is based on grace, not based on works." Here's what God, listen, God did not promise that there would always be some remaining group of people who were good and upstanding people. Nope. What God promised is that he would be faithful to his own promise, always and forever. God has not promised there's always going to be this group of good, upstanding people as if somehow they had something to do with this. God says, "I promise that I will always fulfill my covenant. Therefore I cannot reject my people, because I foreknew my people, and I still have a people, but that people that I have chosen has been solely by my grace, not by their works. Solely by my grace." You see, this is what we have to keep in mind, that this is the sovereign grace of God, and grace can never be based on works or else it's not grace. That's what Paul said. If grace is based on works, it's not grace. That's why, listen carefully to me, I'm gonna break something down for you theologically for just a quick second. That's why anyone who talks to you about how people can lose their salvation have missed the understanding of grace. It's antithetical to grace. As some have said, if you could lose your salvation, you would. You would. And then how do you get it back? By your works? If you can do something by works, it's not by grace. Or let me say it to you this way. Let's say you believe you could lose your salvation, but I ask you, "Have you lost yours," and you say, "No." Really? How did you do that? Because you're so sinless? You're so good? You've somehow done something? Nope. By grace. That's it. You are saved by grace. You remain by grace. It is not works, because if it were works, it cannot be grace. That's what Paul said, and Paul said the reason that Israel has not been rejected is because of God's sovereign grace. He has chosen by his grace a remnant. You are saved by grace. You remain by grace. It is not works, because if it were works, it cannot be grace. That's what Paul said, and Paul said the reason that Israel has not been rejected is because of God's sovereign grace. He has chosen by his grace a remnant. These are strong. This is a doctrinal book, isn't it? It's a rich, beautiful book that helps us to understand and love God more deeply because of who he is. So Paul says all of this to say, has God rejected Israel? No, exclamation point, and there are the reasons for it. But. But he did harden most of Israel. So you're going, "Oh boy. Here we go." Did God reject his people? Absolutely not. But he did harden most of Israel. Let me show you what it says in verse number seven. Paul says, "What then?" After talking about this incredible sovereign grace. "What then?" He says, "What the people of Israel sought so earnestly, they did not obtain. The elect," the chosen, God's choice by grace of a remnant, they did, "but the others were hardened." And you think to yourself, "Whew! What does that mean?" Well, for Israel, there was the remnant, and the rest. The remnant, saved by grace, chosen by God. An act of God's own free will. The rest were hardened, and this also was God's choice. God made that choice. What Paul does is he then applies the Old Testament to Israel's present circumstance of being hardened and blinded to the reality of the gospel. He quotes from three different places, Deuteronomy 29, Isaiah 29, and Psalm 69. Here's what he says in verse eight through 10. He says, "As it is written," there's your clue that he's quoting from the Old Testament, "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day." And David says, "May their table become a snare and a trap, stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever." So Paul says, did God reject his people? Absolutely not. No, he did not. By no means did he do that. And then he unpacks a bunch of reasons. But then he tells us, but God did harden most of Israel, the unbelieving Israel. God did do that. It's sobering to think about, probably sobering for Israel to think about, because what they know is that, when we read in Romans chapter nine about how God hardened Pharaoh's heart, you remember that? Pharaoh had done his own hardening of his own heart, many times over. God had said these things and made appeals through Moses and Pharaoh kept hardening his heart, and God just did for Pharaoh what Pharaoh had already been doing for himself, right? God hardened Pharaoh's heart. And now that was Egypt and Pharaoh who was oppressing Israel and God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and now God is hardening greater Israel to the glory of the gospel. That is a remarkable thing and a sobering thing. But here's what you need to understand. Even God hardening them is a part of God's sovereign choice. It's a part of God's elective purposes of salvation in the world. All of this is not accidental, but there's two things I need to tell you about this hardening of Israel. First, it's not permanent. It's not permanent. You know, sometimes we think about that, and we're like, "Oh, this is forever." No, no, it's not, actually. It's not permanent. Listen, in fact, to how Paul said this in verse number 11. "Again I ask, did Israel stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all!" You see what he's saying here is, are they spiritually ruined forever? Have they fallen beyond the ability to be recovered? And Paul says, no, they haven't. They have not. Which tells us that this hardening is not permanent, okay? But the second piece of this is that this hardening is always purposeful. So it's not permanent, and it's always purposeful. Look with me in what the second part of verse 11 and verse 12 says. It says, "Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!" It's really remarkable what he's talking about. Just like, listen, just like Pharaoh's hardening, his heart hardening was a part of God's salvation for the world in the deliverance of Israel, that this was a part of that, so, too, Israel's hardening is a part of God's eternal and sovereign plan of salvation for the world. See, it's as if God is unfolding for Paul a three-step process in God's kind of economy of salvation. Follow this. Israel's large-scale rejection of the gospel and their hardening, while still having a remnant by grace. Step one. Step two, that hardening and rejection has opened the door wide for Gentile inclusion into the covenant of God and the family of God. Step three, that Gentile inclusion now sparks jealousy in the group that has rejected, and at some point they're going to be so jealous that they're going to turn their attention back to God, and they will be restored as well. Now, this jealousy or this envy is not the wrong kind. It's the right kind. One pastor kind of framed it this way. He said there's a mom and dad who have a couple of kids who just, in a rebellious huff, decide that they're running away from home. And so they just, they leave, you know? Right after Thanksgiving, they're just, they're out. So they leave, and mom and dad don't have anybody at the house, and they think to themselves, "You know, there's probably kids that need a home." And so they find a couple of kids that they take into their home, and they care for them, and they love them. About Christmastime, the kids that have run away, they're walking down the street. They don't have anywhere to live. They're homeless, and they look in the window of their house and they see two other kids who are eating ham, wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, sitting by the fire, got presents with their name on 'em, and they are cold and lonely and heartbroken because they're missing out on the sweetness of relationship. That is what the Gentiles are doing, causing those who embrace faith in Jesus Christ, are causing God's chosen people Israel to be jealous, because what's happening here, in God's economy, even with their hardening, it is purposeful, because God is giving Israel a future and a hope. In God's great purposes, he's actually bringing them to a future and a hope. If their rebellion has served to mean riches for Gentiles, who can be included into the covenant, who can be included into the promises and the family of God. If their transgression has resulted in riches for them, imagine how the world will respond when all of Israel, generally speaking, all of Israel turns back to Jesus. Imagine that. Imagine what happens then. We'll talk about that a little bit more, because Paul's gonna talk about that a little bit more in the weeks to come, but let me see if we can apply this. This is deep and it's rich, and what it does is it helps us to be in awe of who God is and what God chooses and why God chooses it, right? But let me offer a couple of questions, a handful of questions for you to consider and to think about in your own life and in my own life. Here's the first. Does your life reveal a trust in God's purposes? You see, at the end of the day, what we learn about God is that God can be trusted. God can be trusted. His purposes can be trusted, but for us, sometimes circumstances dictate to us whether or not we think we can trust God or not. So we go through hardship and we think, "Hmm. See? God can't be trusted." What if God is using the hardship to form you more into the image of Jesus for the purposes of his glory in the world, and so that other people will see Jesus as a result of it? People have said to me, sometimes, "Man, you gotta have a lot of faith to get healed of a particular disease." God can heal, by the way. God has healed, by the way. Listen carefully. Does it take more faith to get healed of a disease, or does it take more faith to be faithful to God when he chooses not to heal you, so that people can see Christ in you? Just a thought. Are we really trusting? Do people see our lives as trusting in the purposes of God? When we go through great hardship, do we still trust God? When we go from the bigger to the smaller, do we still trust God? Can God still use the small to accomplish his purposes? Absolutely he can. And do people see that our life actually trusts in God's purposes? Because God is sovereign, and he's good, and he's holy, and he knows what he's doing, even when we don't. Let me ask you a second question. Have you settled in your heart that God won't reject or abandon his true people? Have you settled that in your heart? Listen, here's why I say that. I talk to person after person after person after person who struggles with rejection and abandonment. It's the world that we live in, by the way. We live in a cruel, cruel world, a world that is itching to cancel you for anything, just looking for an opportunity, and so you feel like you have to be perfect, and if you're not, you're canceled, you're rejected, you're abandoned, you're done. Listen to me. The God who has saved us by his grace cannot abandon you. Not only, listen, not only will he not, he cannot, because it was his own grace, his own sovereign choice to save us and to rescue us. That's why, when people start talking about their salvation, I will back you up for a second. It is his salvation. He saves, not us. He saves. It is by grace we have been saved through faith. And our faith, as I talked to you and taught you recently, our faith is not a work. It's a response to God's grace. So he will not abandon you. He will not forsake you. Settle that in your heart. It changes the trajectory of your life. Let me ask you a third question. Does your life cause jealousy in others for relationship with God? Do people look at your life and say, "I want what they have," or do people look at your life and say, "That looks like everybody else. Nothing distinctive here to see." Does your life provoke jealousy in other people's world, who say, "I wish that was what I had. I wish I had that peace. I wish I had that joy, even in the toughness. I wish I had that." It doesn't mean, by the way, that we're not human, that we don't, you know, like it happens. Happened to Elijah. Right? It happens. We get tired, we get run down, we get exhausted, we get lonely, we get sad, we get hurt, we get defeated, we get all of those things, but what does the trajectory of our life look like, and do people go, "Wow"? Notice what they run to. Notice what they run to, or maybe more specifically, notice who they run to when life changes, when life gets challenging, when life gets difficult. They don't run to all the same things that all the rest of the world runs to. They run to a rock that is higher than they are. They lift their eyes to the hills from whence cometh their help. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He has... He has lifted me out of the mud and the mire, and he set my feet upon a rock, and he gave me a firm place to stand, and he put a new song in my mouth, a song that praises God. This is the difference, isn't it, between what everybody else everywhere might do and what they might run to, and where the people of God go. Let me ask you a last question. Do you believe that the best is yet to come with Jesus? Here's what I promise you. Regardless of whatever you're walking through, the best is always yet to come with Jesus. Always. Forever. The best is yet to come. You know why? Because God will glorify himself and God will work for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. God will always make sure that the best is yet to come. And you say, "Yes, but my life. I'm facing this, and it may end in my death or it may end..." Yeah, it might, and then guess what? Then guess what? Our lives end, but they don't, right? Our lives end, but they don't, because for those of us who have been born only once, you will die twice, but for those of us who have been born twice, we will only die once. The best is yet to come with Jesus. But if you don't know him, I say this with a broken and somber heart, the worst is yet to come, because of the rejection of God's great offer of grace to you. He stands ready to receive you, and he offers himself to you, and I hope that you'll respond to him. Let's bow our heads together for prayer. If you're here and you've not said yes to Jesus, then if he's drawing and prodding your heart, that's his work, not mine. That's his Spirit, not me. But if that is the case, when we dismiss in just a moment and you want to surrender your life to Jesus Christ, then I would encourage you to walk directly across the atrium, into the fireside room. We've got folks there that would love to take a moment and pray with you, share with you how you can know Jesus, have your sin forgiven, your life made new, send you home with something that's gonna help you in your journey of faith. I pray that you'll do that. I'm not gonna come find you. I'm not gonna manipulate you. I just, if God's leading you in that way, then let God do what he wants to do. Father, I pray for the rest of us, if we know Jesus, I pray that we would always be reminded that, that in the story that you have written in the world, that we, your people, are a supernova remnant, that we have a power that in scope is beyond our size and capacity. And I pray that we would be a people who would be yielded to you and trusting in you, and live lives in such a way that depend upon you so that the world around us may thirst and may hunger for what they see, because they see Jesus. I pray you'd help us to be a people who deeply trust your sovereign purposes in all things for your glory, so that we would be a people who exercise faith that has come because of your grace. We love you, God. We thank you for every expression of your grace. We thank you that you are wise, that you are beautiful, that you are sovereign, that you are good, that you are glorious, that you always know what you are doing, even when we do not, and that you can be trusted in all things, that even as we climb through what feels like, at times, this maze in Romans chapter nine, 10, and 11, what we keep seeing time and time again is the trustworthiness of the sovereign God, who is working all things for his wise and beautiful purposes and working for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. So would you help us to trust you even more deeply for your glory? We pray in Jesus' name. And all God's people said amen.

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