Grace and works, salvation by grace salvation by works, are mutually exclusive. It's not like grace plus, because as soon as it's grace plus my baptism, grace plus my faithfulness to the church, grace plus my regular tithing, now I'm adding a work to the grace. So I didn't crawl up on the cross with Jesus and help him out. I didn't add anything.
There was nothing I did. On that day he did it all. In our faith journey, we can sometimes lose sight of everything Jesus has done for us. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how you can stay in tune with Christ's righteousness. But before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that will help you get the most out of your Bible study times. Is your personal Bible study time frustrating? Do you need direction? You can study the Bible with a plan and see progress.
Listen to this from Skip Heitzig. All of us, we have trouble with certain parts of the Bible. Sometimes it's tough. But exposure to the Bible, a consistent exposure to the Bible, and I would add on a daily basis, with a consistent desire to obey it, will do more for you than any other thing that I can think of in your Christian life. Take the mystery out of studying scripture with Pastor Skip's book, How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It. Our thanks to you when you give $25 or more to help connect more people with this Bible teaching ministry. Get the tips and tools you need to open your eyes, mind, and heart to God's truth. You don't have to be afraid of the Bible. Get your copy of How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It by Skip Heitzig today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888.
Now, we're in Romans chapter 11 as Skip Heitzig gets into today's message. As long as a person believes in Jesus, are saved by grace through faith, we believe the essential doctrines of the church, amillennialism, premillennialism, which I believe in, postmillennial, all of those things, that shouldn't separate our fellowship from one another. We can debate over it, and I'm happy to do it, up to a point where if a person doesn't want to listen, then I'm done.
But I'll debate, but I won't divide over that. Okay, so here's what an amillennialist will say. They'll say, well, the millennium isn't a real literal thousand-year period. What happened is that Jesus is right now ruling and reigning on the throne in heaven. So the fulfillment of all those promises of Jesus ruling on the throne, the throne of David, et cetera, is happening now.
Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, so He's ruling. So they say the millennium isn't a thousand-year period. It's just the indiscriminate period between the first coming and the second coming, which means right now is the millennium. You're in it. I just got to say, based on my understanding and my reading of what is predicted in that kingdom age, if this is the millennium, I am highly disappointed.
If this is it, try again. It's not so awesome. So it boils down to how a person interprets Scripture. An amillennial believer interprets the Scripture in a spiritualized way. It doesn't mean that literally.
They say it has a spiritual meaning. Now, I don't believe in spiritualizing the text. My hermeneutic, or the way I interpret Scripture, is called a grammatico-slash-historical hermeneutic.
I take the grammar and the history and I approach the text. An amillennial believer will say, well, so do we. We believe in a grammatical, historical interpretation of the Bible, except when it comes to prophecy.
Then we take a spiritualizing hermeneutic. And then my follow-up question immediately is, on what basis? What is your basis for that?
Just because it's convenient for you? Because it's an inconsistent hermeneutic. And then, if it's not literal, you have to tell me, what does it mean? And why does the book of Revelation get so heavy in numbers? Seven churches. Seven seals. 144,000 sealed on their foreheads. Twelve gates, et cetera. The measurements of the New Jerusalem, et cetera. If you're going to just say, it doesn't mean what it says it means, then pray tell what on earth does it mean?
You really have a problem with that. But there are a lot of people who say, God has cast away Israel. And that is the belief, that is the hermeneutic, the amillennial position is the hermeneutic of the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and a few others. I don't believe it's a responsible way to approach the scripture.
I think it does great damage to the text. More could be said, but time is running out. So has God cast away his people? I'll just let Paul answer it. No way, Jose.
Again, that's the NSV. The New King James says, God forbid, or certainly not, excuse me, for I am also of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin, has God cast away his people whom he foreknew? Or do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life. But what does the divine response say to him?
I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. The point he is making is that, look, the whole nation has turned against Jesus, yet there's a small remnant who do believe, like Elijah. Now, Elijah was the one who stood on Mount Carmel and had a contest with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings chapter 18.
You remember the story, right? He stands out there alone, and there's all these prophets of Baal and Asherah, and he chooses them on in a contest. He says, look, let's get an animal, kill it on my altar, and you do your altar, and let's trust our gods. I'll trust my god. You trust all your pagan fake gods. And whichever god answers by fire and consumes the sacrifice, that's the true and living God. Fair enough? Show on.
Let's go. So they have a contest. The prophets of Baal start first. They pray from morning until evening. They divide their sacrifice on the altar.
They dance around. They cut themselves. Elijah taunts them.
Yell louder. Maybe he's on a vacation. He's traveling.
He's relieving himself. I like his style. They just kind of mock them. Because he realizes, you have your religion. It's just wacky. It's wrong. So instead of saying, well, you know, you have your belief, and I have my belief, he goes, yeah, yeah, your god's fake, and just taunts them.
I just kind of like his style. And then it's his turn. And to rub it in, he says, well, take water and pour it on my sacrifice.
Because, you know, water's not going to burn. And so just to stack the odds against him, he says, do it again. We'll do it a third time.
And so they did it. And then he utters this simple little prayer. You know, probably like, God, if you don't show up, I'm dead meat. But a simple little prayer, Lord, just show up.
Glorify yourself. And boom, lightning fell, struck it, and consumed it. So he won the contest, killed the prophets of Baal. Then he ran away from Jezebel, way down in the Sinai desert.
He's under a broom tree, exhausted. And he says, Lord, it's enough. Just take my life.
I just want to die. Look, I've been the only one in Israel. I'm the only guy who stands up for you. I'm the only believer. God says, Elijah, actually, I have 7,000 people just like you who haven't bowed the knee.
Now, for Elijah, that's like, whoa, that's a lot of people. But when you think of the nation of Israel, God's people, all of them, there were about a million that lived in the land at that time, only 7,000 out of that million believed in God, in the covenant. The others did not. So it was a very small remnant, is the point. Even so, verse 5, here's the application, even so, then, at this present time, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. There's always a remnant.
Remember that word, a remnant, a small portion. It doesn't matter if most don't believe. Well, you know, most people don't believe that. So, most people are wrong. I have no problem saying that.
I have no problem. I don't care if the majority thinks one way, majority's wrong. I know we live in a democracy or a republic and majority rule. Good, majority's wrong.
I'm happy to announce that. This is what John said, last part of 1 John. We know that we are of God and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. They're wrong.
They're wrong. So, even so, even now, to this present time, there's just a remnant, a small group according to the election of grace. When Paul would go into a synagogue, because he went to the Jew first, then the Gentile, and he would share the gospel that Jesus is the Messiah, usually they kicked him out. But it says some believed. Paul lived for the some believed. When Paul went to Rome and conferred with the Jews, it said many disbelieved, but some believed.
Paul was willing to get beaten up, rejected from town to town just for the but some believed. It's always the remnant. And so today, there's a remnant, a small group according to the election of grace. If you look at the idea of Judaism, there are in the world today about 15 million Jews, Jewish people, alive on planet Earth, 15 million. About 350,000 of those 15 million are believers in Jesus.
Okay, that's a small fraction. If you look at the nation of Israel itself, just Israel, the nation of the state of Israel, modern Israel. Israel is a population of what, around 9 million people. 6.5 million, I believe, are Jews. It's estimated that 30,000 of those 6.5 million are messianic believers, Jewish believers in Jesus. 30,000. Well, that's not very many.
Yet, it's a thousand times more than just a few years back. In 1948, Israel became a modern nation. They were regathered May 14th, 1948. In May 14th of 1948, there were 23 believers in Jesus in Israel. 23. Not 2300, 23.
Now you have 30,000. So, yeah, I mean, it's a small fraction, but it's a whole lot more. So God is doing the work, and it's always a remnant, he says. Verse 6, and if by grace, and it is no longer works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace, otherwise work is no longer work. In other words, grace and works, salvation by grace, salvation by works, are mutually exclusive. It's not like grace plus, because as soon as it's grace plus my baptism, grace plus my faithfulness to the church, grace plus my regular tithing, now I'm adding a work to the grace. So I didn't crawl up on the cross with Jesus and help him out.
I didn't add anything. There was nothing I did on that day. He did it all. That's grace. I just came along one day and heard that that happened and believed that. That's how I'm saved.
I didn't do anything to earn it. So grace and works are mutually exclusive, and we say, oh, God, I'm going to try harder. I'm going to be a good boy. I'm going to be a good girl. I'm going to show you, and I'm going to earn. As soon as you start earning stuff, you are insulting God, who gave his only Son to show the world, you are hopeless and helpless without my gift.
Otherwise, it's no longer grace. Now, he says, what then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks.
What is it seeking? Righteousness. A right standing before God has not obtained it because it's a self-righteousness. But the elect have obtained it, and the rest were hardened. Just as it is written, God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, ears that they should not hear to this very day.
The modern Jewish person, religious Jew, is faced with the predicament. You see, the Old Testament requires that animals be brought on their behalf in a tabernacle or in a temple. There is no temple left. In 70 AD, that temple was destroyed by the Roman general Titus. Since then, there's been no temple. Since then, there's been no altar of sacrifice. Since then, there's been no atonement. So you ask a modern religious Jew, what do you do with your sin?
How do you get that? I mean, your ancestors brought animals to a temple. Blood was shed, covered it up till the next sacrifice, and then it happened all over again, and all over again. There were daily, evening, morning sacrifices, yearly sacrifices, Passover.
What do you do? You have a predicament. So if you don't have a temple, you don't have a means by which your sins can be carried away. There's no sacrifice. Now, they'll give you an answer. And the answer goes back to verse 3, being ignorant of God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteous. They'll tell you about, well, you know, every year, Yom Kippur, we look back and we think, you know, I hope my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds.
It's very similar to Islam. It's all by works. It's all by self-righteousness.
But it's a real problem. They have nothing by which to atone for their sin. Of course, there is an atonement.
It's in Christ, but they reject Him. And David says, verse 9, let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes be dark and that they may not see and bow down their back always. Now, he's quoting Psalm 69, a messianic psalm that predicts the suffering in part of the Messiah, the rejection of the Messiah, and in part the death of the Messiah.
He selects a very interesting little text out of that. He says, let their table become a snare. The table where you spread out to eat, have a feast, was considered always a place of safety. And so the idea is the very thing that they have trusted in is the very thing that condemns them. And what they trust in is their religious observance. But because their religious observances are keeping them from trusting in Christ, their table, their place of safety, ensnares them. It's not a safe place to be.
It's a very dangerous and precarious place to be. Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see and bow down their back always. I say then, verse 11, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not, but through their fall to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now, if their fall is riches for the world and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness. For I speak to you Gentiles inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, being a Jewish rabbi, yet he turned to the Gentiles. I magnify my ministry if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are of my flesh and save some of them. You know, it's hard for us to grasp, but it's important for us to know how 2,000 years ago a very pious religious Jewish person, especially living in Israel, felt about Gentiles.
Want to know how they felt? Listen to a common Jewish prayer prayed sometimes daily by a pious Jewish man. It went like this, God, I thank you that I am not a Gentile or a slave or a woman.
It tells you what they thought about Gentiles, shows you what they thought about women. That was a common Jewish prayer. When the Jewish people refer to Gentiles, they go under the moniker Hagoyim. Hagoyim is Hebrew for the nations. In other words, they are not us. We are the chosen, they are just them, the nations. You got Jews and everybody else. God's chosen and the unchosen.
So I told you before when pious Jews would walk down the street, especially the Pharisee, they would hold their robes close, lest the robes brush up against a Gentile and they become contaminated by it. If you want to know how a Jew thought about nations, other nations, look at the book of Jonah. Jonah was a pious Jew. God told him to go preach to Nineveh, that's up in Iraq, and give them an extension of mercy, but actually couched under a very severe sermon of judgment. Jonah was not excited about going to Gentiles, so much so that he went the opposite direction and ran from God. That's what he thought about the job. That's what he thought about Gentiles.
They are not worth saving. So you have to understand how strongly they felt. Here's something else. Paul the Apostle goes back to Jerusalem. He writes the book of Romans, that's three months, goes to Jerusalem.
He gets arrested. He stands before the Jewish people and gives his testimony. I was on the Damascus road. I got saved. I was like, you guys, I arrested people who didn't call, who called on the name of Jesus and you guys know who I am.
And then he said this. When the Lord apprehended me and called me on the Damascus road, he said to me, go from here. I'm going to send you to the Gentiles.
And it says in the book of Acts, chapter 21, and they listened to him until he spoke that word. What is that word? The G word. Gentiles.
God is going to send me to the Gentiles. It says, at that word, they became so incensed, they tore their clothes. They started screaming. And they threw dirt in the air.
Wow. Yeah, they had a zeal. Not according to knowledge. Ignorant of God's righteousness. That's how they felt about Hagoyim, the Gentiles. I speak to you, Gentiles, verse 13, as much as I am an apostle of the Gentiles and I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.
But now watch this. For if they're being cast away, is the reconciling of the world what will be their acceptance, but life from the dead. For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy. If the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you being a wild olive were grafted in among them, with them become a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, and do not boast against the branches.
But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. He's going to talk about God's future plan for the Jewish nation. It's an incredible one. It's predicted in the Old Testament. Now, I can't tell you, I don't have time to get into it. We're now closing the study.
I'm sorry we have to kind of wind this down. But I'll give you a hint, a little bit of homework to prep you for next week. Go back, go home and read Ezekiel chapter 37. And you will find out what Paul is talking about when he says, hey, if they're being set aside, that awesome thing is for you.
Imagine what their restoration is going to be like. And Ezekiel 37 predicts the restoration of the nation of Israel in the last days. That wraps up Skip Heitzig's message from his series Expound Romans. Now, here's Skip to share how you can help keep this broadcast going strong, connecting you and others around the world with God's Word. Jesus Christ is truth incarnate. He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.
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That number again is 800-922-1888. Or visit connectwithskip.com slash donate. That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Your generosity helps keep this biblical encouragement coming your way and going out around the world to help change more lives. And did you know there's an exciting biblical resource available right at your fingertips through your mobile device? You can find several of Skip's Bible reading plans in the YouVersion Bible app. Simply download the app and search Skip Heitzig.
Next week, Skip Heitzig examines the history of Israel and how God's plan for them also includes you. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection. Connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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