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The Power of Genuine Faith to Lead Others to Christ (Romans 11:13-24)

Romans 11:13–24 - 13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? What does today’s passage say? In today’s passage, Paul explains that as an apostle to the Gentiles, he magnifies his ministry in hopes of making his fellow Israelites envious (vv. 13-14). He desires that saving some Gentiles might prompt more Jews to also seek Christ and the blessings that salvation rooted in faith brings. Paul concludes that if Israel's rejection of the Gospel means reconciliation has come to the world, then what greater blessings will come when they turn to accept Christ (vv. 15-16)? Paul goes on by way of a parable about an olive tree, its roots and its branches to warn Gentile believers to avoid arrogance over the Jews who rejected Christ, since the branches depend fully on the root for life and nourishment (vv. 17-18). Branches representing those grafted into God's family by faith should remain humbly grateful rather than prideful (vv. 19-21). Paul also warns that if God did not spare the unbelieving natural branches of Israel, neither will He spare those grafted in who drift from genuine faith (vv. 22-24). Instead, He will bless those persevering in Spirit-empowered obedience. How can I apply Romans 11:13-24 to my life? Today, Paul holds up an olive tree as an illustration of God’s dealings with both Jews and Gentiles when it comes to salvation. He grafts in wild olive branches representing Gentile believers to partake of the rich root of God’s covenant blessings through faith in Jesus. But He balances this gracious inclusion of believing Gentiles with sobering reminders. We contribute zero merit to gain this favored position. It comes only by God’s kind choice to unite us with Christ through our faith. And His grace toward those grafted in should prompt humility, not arrogance. It should motivate us to bless even the rejected “natural branches” rather than pridefully excluding them. For although adopted by grace, God still prunes and may eventually cut off those who, after grafting, fail to evidence genuine, enduring faith through Spirit-empowered obedience and repentance. So, wherever we find ourselves today among these metaphorical branches in relationship to Jesus the root, this passage offers crucial perspectives. Here are some basic principles from this text we should apply to our lives:

  1. Be Faithful to the Ministry God has Called You to so that Through It, Others Will Be Drawn to the Lord (vv. 13-16): Paul highlights his calling from God as an apostle to the Gentiles, working to win them to faith in Christ. He knew their blessings would make Jews jealous and seek salvation too. Likewise, God calls us to faithfully carry out the ministry He gave us, no matter how small it seems, so that others may come to know Him. As we serve and bless those around us, our Christ-centered actions can draw others to ask about the hope we have. God equips us by His Spirit to walk in this calling. Even if we feel inadequate on our own, through prayerful dependence on Him , He will use our faltering efforts in surprising ways. By daily submitting our abilities and opportunities back to God and stepping forward in trust that He called us for a purpose, we make space for Him to impact people powerfully through us in spite of our flaws. Our role is to remain sensitive to where He is guiding each day, consistently planting Gospel seeds through acts of service as we live "with Jesus" before those around us. We can trust God to produce supernatural fruit in His timing as we walk faithfully with the Spirit one step at a time. Keeping our eyes on Christ over ourselves, our humble service is used by God to draw people to salvation (Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Corinthians 3:7-9, Galatians 6:9, Colossians 1:28-29).

Food for Thought: What ministry do you think God has called you to right now? How can you be more faithful in it this week? How does it encourage you to know that salvation comes from God even if He uses us as His vessels?

  1. Don’t Be Arrogant in Your Salvation Since It Comes not From You but From God Through Christ (vv. 17-21): Paul warns Gentile believers not to become arrogant, acting as if they are superior to Jews who reject the Gospel. He stresses that our salvation originates not from ourselves, but from God gifting us mercy through uniting us with Christ. Because salvation springs from God’s gracious choice to graft us into Jesus, not anything good in us, it leaves no place for prideful boasting. Instead, this truth beckons us to walk in humility, remembering we all once stood as dead branches without hope, grounded solely in our sin. We contributed nothing to earn deliverance. Since His favor rescued us freely, we orient our lives around impartial grace for all peoples, not favoritism. Just as Jesus loved those rejecting His message, we ask God to bless and save even those opposing the Gospel. Our posture is one of humble gratitude, not arrogance or superiority, amazed that God would choose to redeem and adopt us. Our response is simply to yield ourselves fully to Him as vessels for His purposes and glory (Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:3-7, 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Food for Thought: Are there areas of subtle spiritual pride you need to confess and turn from today? How does reflecting on your undeserved salvation lead to deeper gratitude and humility before God?

  1. God Will Bless Those Who Persevere in their Genuine Faith and Will Cut off Those Whose ‘Faith’ Bears Not Fruit (vv. 22-24): Paul cautions that although God has graciously grafted Gentiles into His people through faith in Christ, His kindness comes with expectation of genuine fruit. Goodness is not optional. In today’s passage, Paul cautions that for grafted branches depicting believers who fail to walk in step with the Spirit and produce fruit like love, forgiveness and holiness, God will discipline. If there remains no repentance rooted genuine genuine faith, He will fully cut off those branches. Conversely, the branches depicting believers who persevere in Spirit-empowered faith, though imperfect, will continue receiving nurture and blessing from God the Father. He patiently prunes to refine those sincerely seeking to obey and honor Him with their lives. Even our strength to produce Christlike character comes not from ourselves but the sap of His grace within us. Since God alone sees the heart, we refrain from judgment, instead encouraging any who profess faith to walk obediently with Jesus while time allows. For only He can confirm who constitutes true branches versus those claiming Christ without actually abiding in Him through the Spirit (John 15:1-11, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 2 Peter 1:3-11, Hebrews 12:3-11).

Food for Thought: Are you persevering and allowing God to refine you as He sees necessary? Do you need to speak an encouraging word to a fellow Christian you have doubts about instead of condemning? This rich passage reminds us of the vital spiritual connection we have to Christ through faith, as close as a branch grafted into a life-giving vine. It is a position we did not merit but received by God's grace alone through our faith. Therefore, we live each moment in humble gratitude before Him, seeking through the Spirit's power to bear fruit that honors our Savior. We yearn for all people to taste God's kindness demonstrated at the cross. Though awaiting the day when every knee bows to Jesus, we do not presume to determine who comprises true believers versus those merely claiming His Name. We simply heed this passage's warnings not to drift from close abiding in Christ ourselves. For in Him we thrive; apart we flounder. May our lives give reason to praise the Father who grafts all who believe into His family. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would increase humility within me in light of the reality that I have contributed nothing to gain the salvation You bestowed upon me by Your great grace when I believed. Ground me firmly in the truth that every good thing authored through me stems only from Your Spirit's work within this prone-to-wander heart. Train my thoughts to bless rather than condemn those who currently reject the message of Christ, believing that You desire all people to be saved. Give me discernment to make my calling  as I persevere in obedience as evidence of authentic faith. Prune and refine whatever You see necessary to make me fruitful for Your glory. I long to be a light for You to a watching world. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 11:22 – “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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