Tuesday: The Natural Branch

Read Romans 11:11-15. What great hope does Paul present in this passage?

In this passage, we find two parallel expressions: (1) “their [the Israelites’] fulness” (Rom. 11:12) and (2) “the receiving of them [the Israelites]” (Rom. 11:15). Paul envisioned the diminishing and the casting away to be only temporary and to be followed by fullness and reception.

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This is Paul’s second answer to the question raised at the beginning of this chapter, “Hath God cast away his people?” What appears to be a casting away, he says, is only a temporary situation.

Read Romans 11:16-24. What is Paul saying to us here?

Paul likens the faithful remnant in Israel to a noble olive tree, some of whose branches have been broken off (the unbelieving ones) – an illustration he uses to prove that “God hath not cast away his people” (Rom. 11:2). The root and trunk are still there.

Into this tree the believing Gentiles have been grafted. But they are drawing their sap and vitality from the root and trunk, which represent believing Israel.

What happened to those who rejected Jesus could happen also to the believing Gentiles. The Bible teaches no doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Just as salvation is freely offered, it freely can be rejected. Although we have to be careful of thinking that every time we fall we are out of salvation, or that we aren’t saved unless we are perfect, we need to avoid the opposite ditch as well – the idea that once God’s grace covers us, there is nothing we can do, no choices we can make, that will take the provision of salvation away from us. In the end, only those who “continue in his goodness” (Rom. 11:22) will be saved.

No believer should boast of his or her own goodness or feel any superiority over his or her fellow human beings. Our salvation was not earned; it was a gift. Before the Cross, before the standard of God’s holiness, we all are equal: sinners in need of divine grace, sinners in need of a holiness that can be ours only through grace. We have nothing of ourselves to boast about; our boasting should be only in Jesus and what He has done for us by coming into this world in human flesh, suffering our woes, dying for our sins, offering us a model for how we are to live, and promising us the power to live that life. In it all, we are completely dependent upon Him, for without Him we would have no hope beyond what this world itself offers.


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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons