Questioning Romans 11:1-10 (Reading Romans 11)

On Sunday (3/15/09) we will tread deep water, Romans 11. This will be a three week swim. You will need to be well prepared. None of those biceps “swimmie” things will be allowed. Frankly, they just look way too ridiculous and they chafe. Yet when it comes to Sunday sermons most pew dwellers wear the equivalent of theological “swimmies.” We approach Sunday with little thought or preparation about the coming text. As a result most leave church a little chafed but relatively unchanged. Sermons are merely morning swims; routine, relaxing, and easily forgotten over lunch.

Allow me to give you an arsenal of questions about this week’s text that may help you to be well prepared for Sunday’s sermon. If you have never taken the time to think through a text before your preacher feeds it to you I think you will find this exercise to be incredibly rewarding. Whether you are at RBC on Sunday or another church you may be amazed to find how much more interesting your preacher’s sermon becomes when you have actually thought through the text yourself, before he breaks out his silver spoon. If you have read posts in my previous series you will know that I think questions are at times our greatest Bible study tools, especially when you do not have access to resources.

  1. What/ who is the subject of Romans 11? Israel, the Gentiles, Paul, or God? You may want to consult my posts from earlier this week.
  2. Paul talks about the “remnant.” What is the remnant? Does the Bible speak about the remnant in other places? Look it up!
  3. In Romans 11:2-3 Paul says that Elijah appeals to God against Israel and then quotes Elijah’s words found in 1 Kings 19 (look it up, read the original story in 1 Kings 19). Elijah’s complaint is that Israel has forsaken the Lord in idolatry and has become desperately wicked. In Exodus 32 the people of Israel worship a golden calf and Moses intercedes for their life. Compare and contrast Moses and Elijah in these moments. What are the similarities, what are the differences? How does God respond to each?
  4. In Romans 11:5 Paul says that the remnant is chosen by grace. The grace of God is able to change the lives of people. In verse 4 the remnant is described as those who have not bowed a knee to Baal. The grace of God strengthened the remnant and sustained their loyalty to God and made a moral difference in their lives. How does the grace of God operate in the lives of “the remnant” in our own culture? How does the grace of God strengthen people to stand against the immoral pressures of our own time?
  5. In verses 7 - 10 Paul describes those who are not experiencing the grace of God. Those outside of the remnant are being hardened. From what you read in the text here, what do you think this means?
  6. Sin is prevalent in our culture. It is incredibly difficult to endure temptation. These two truths taken together it seems that it is easier to give in than to endure. The church has created that idea that if people can simply “be just above average” they are meeting God’s expectations. Surely God does not actually expect true holiness from His people. Does this idea of being “just better than average” do justice to the idea of the remnant? Does this idea of being “just better than average” do justice to the power of the grace of God operating in a person’s life? Is the grace of God able to help people become morally “just better than average” or is this an impractical expectation?
You may not answer all of these questions, or even be able to do so. Yet, take the time to read through them and think through them. Have the text rattling around in your mind for a couple of days. You will be amazed as you walk through Lowe's or mow grass or maybe play tennis this weekend how many times the text will "hit" you with a truth. Again, if you think through a text before it is preached you will be amazed at how much more interesting your preacher's sermons will become!


Ross Reddick said…
Hey Brian. Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed your sermon on Sunday (Mar. 22). Leah and I were talking about what a great gift you have for preaching.

I want to personally thank you for being a scholar and serious student of the Bible. In a former life, I was known to poke fun at my Baptist brothers and sisters, because Presbyterians are prideful (yes to a fault) on our institutionalized educational standards. You put that unhealthy attitude of mine to a shame; and I thank you for it.

Seminary has been a whirlwind so far; I've got lots of reading to do for classes, but I'm really going to try to keep up with your blogs, and post some comments that might be mutually beneficial to our studies.

Anyway, thanks.

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