“Wrestling With Romans”
The Present Remnant (Chapter 11 Verses 1-11)
The cause of Israel is not lost altogether, and Paul himself stands as a testimony to this (v1). Remember not all Israel are actually of Israel, after the flesh, yes, but spiritually, no (Romans 9.6-7). They are not all really God’s true children (v2), God was never deceived as far as that is concerned, he knows those who are his (2Timothy 2.19; John10.14). The apostasy of the rest of Israel doesn’t mean God’s word has failed though (Romans 9.6), or that the Church will not survive. That was Elijah’s thinking (1Kings 19.10-18; vv2b-4), but the gates of hell will never overcome God’s Church (Matthew 16.18). No matter how bad the day, God always has his people whom he preserves, whom he keeps (v4), and it’s the same today (vv5-6). The nation of Israel was thus divided (v7). Some saved by grace (v6). The rejecters? They were judicially hardened, blinded (vv8-10; Matthew 13.10-15; John 12.37-43). And so amongst the Israelite nation you see this condition to this very day. The nation who crucified their own Messiah, and stagger even yet under the curse they’ve brought upon themselves (Matthew 27:25).
But there’s something here for us in our day with the conditions we face in the UK. The terrible compromise in the Church, the growing plethora of religions around us, the awful blurring effect upon truth with the multi-faith movement, secularism and unbelief not only laps at the door of the Church, it has pushed to doors open wide. And one often feels like Elijah, there’s only me left. But it is not so. There is much going on that is good. There are pockets of blessing throughout the country, places where God’s word is indeed effective. There are many gospel causes, good works being done, if you knew of them all you’d be quite surprised I’m sure. We still have freedom to read, to preach God’s word. We are free to meet together as God’s people. For how much longer, that’s debatable. But while we have these things we must use them to the utmost, we must be about God’s business. They are not easy days, but they are still gospel preaching days. We must remember the promises concerning the perpetuity and the intent of the word of God (Isaiah 55.9-11; 1Peter 1.23-25). We must remember God’s word to Elijah (v4), he always has his remnant, his faithful people. One way, of course, of safe-guarding against the introspective mind-set of Elijah, is to have fellowship with other Churches and Christians. One reason why we never hear about what’s going on in other places is because we are far too insular, independency has taken a turn for the worse, it has become extreme to say the least. Move out of your own parochial circle, you might be surprised at what God’s doing through other people.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)