“Wrestling With Romans”
The Present Remnant (Chapter 11 Verses 11-24)
The wonderful spin-off from Israel’s downfall, is our (Gentile) salvation (v11), but even more wonderful the effect will be reciprocated back upon the Jews again (vv25ff). God will use the salvation of the Gentiles to make the Jews jealous (v11b), thus desirous of entering into the blessing bestowed upon the Gentiles. The incredible mercy and grace of God! But picking up on the word envious (v11). That surely is the very essence of evangelism? Again, our responsibility in regards to the commission, is surely to create such an envy, to be such a people, to be the Spirit-empowered people we should be, the lively, the joyful, contagious Christians the New Testament speaks of. That’s how we create jealousy in the hearts of worldly folk. They come amongst us and they are convinced that they are sinful, that God is with us, and they want what we’ve got (1Corinthians 14.24-25; Zechariah 8.23). The success of our evangelism depends upon our ability to create envy in the hearts of the people we seek to witness to. We have God’s Spirit, and we must allow him to transform us into the beautifully attractive body of Christ. That touches upon two very important factors of God’s Spirit working amongst us, our unity, and our diversity.
Take the Ephesian Church for instance, made up of Jews and Gentiles, but forming one body (Ephesians 2.16), that couldn’t have been easy, but Paul never advocates separation. No, he says, you deal with the problems in God’s strength (Ephesians 4.1ff), they must he tells them keep that unity the Spirit has given them (Ephesians 4.3). The sins listed are sins of discord (Ephesians 4.25-31), which are grieving the Spirit (Ephesians 4.30), so if his presence is to continue, they must keep on being filled (Ephesians 5.18), to enable proper worship (Ephesians 5.19-20), and relationships that are healthy (Ephesians 5.21-6.9). As long as there is discord and disunity in the Church, there will never be envy in the heart of the world. Second, take the Corinthian Church, and the imbalance seen there as a result of some focusing over much on certain spiritual gifts (1Corinthians 12-14). Now nowhere does Paul suggest they should all be the same, rather he points to the fact of diversity amongst them (1Corinthians 12.12-20; vv27-31). Yes, even the Triune God himself illustrates this very fact. A body of one part would be a monstrosity! And so too a Church where every one is the same. That’s not unity, that’s uniformity.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)