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The Lord’s Day

May 3, 2015

sermonaudioerbc“The Family-Part 8” (CE lesson) and “Jews & Gentiles: Branches of the Same Olive Tree” – Romans 11:16-18 (sermon) are available on SermonAudio. This morning’s Scripture readings and sermon details follow.

CALL TO WORSHIP: John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (NKJV)

READING OF THE LAW: Matthew 21:33-43

“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

‘The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
This was the Lord’s doing,
And it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.

Commentary: In verse 23 of this same chapter, we see that Christ has entered the temple in Jerusalem. The chief priests and the elders approach him and ask him by what authority he does the things he is doing. That’s when he pins them to the wall with his question concerning John’s baptism. Then he begins to tell parables to them, the second of which is our reading of the law. This parable about a landowner and his vineyard would have been very familiar with the Jews and they would have understood the obvious meaning of the parable. In Isaiah 5:1-7, God told Israel:

Now let me sing to my Well-beloved
A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:
My Well-beloved has a vineyard
On a very fruitful hill.
He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes.
“And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah,
Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
What more could have been done to My vineyard
That I have not done in it?
Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes,
Did it bring forth wild grapes?
And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned;
And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
I will lay it waste;
It shall not be pruned or dug,
But there shall come up briers and thorns.
I will also command the clouds
That they rain no rain on it.”
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel,
And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant.
He looked for justice, but behold, oppression;
For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.

This parable in Matthew, of course, is about the nation of Israel and how they were chosen and entrusted with God’s law. They then rejected that law and God sent them prophets to rebuke them and call them to return and they refused. Then He sent His son, Jesus Christ, whom they not only rejected, but killed. God then took the gospel to the Gentiles because of their rejection. In verse 42, Christ quotes from Ps. 118 and gives them a word picture they can understand. The word rejected in the context of a builder was an expression borrowed from masons, who, finding a stone, which being tried in a particular place, and appearing improper for it, is thrown aside, and another taken; however, at last, it may happen that the very stone which had been before rejected, may be found the most suitable as the head stone of the corner. Praise God that He chose to bring the gospel to the Gentiles and we are now a part of the chosen seed of Abraham and spiritual Israel!

READING OF THE GOSPEL: Ephesians 2:11-13

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (NKJV)

Commentary: In Charles Hodges’ commentary regarding this passage he explains what is meant by “Uncircumcision”. He says “As circumcision was a rite of divine appointment, and the seal of God’s covenant with his people, to be uncircumcised was a great misfortune. It showed that those in that condition were with without God and with and without hope.” Hodge also explains that when Paul uses the term circumcision made in the flesh by hands, he is referring to the “external people of God, who were Jews outwardly, but who were destitute of the true circumcision, which was of the heart.”

In verse 12 Paul expounds on what was our previous state before God saved us. We without Christ, the redeemer and therefore completely hopeless, in the world. The good news revealed is verse 13 is that even though we were once completely removed from God, as believers, we are now brought near to God by His grace and through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ on our behalf. It is only through God’s initiative and the shedding of Christ blood that we are saved from what was once our hopeless and lowly state.

SERMON: “Jews & Gentiles: Branches of the Same Olive Tree” – Romans 11:16-18

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. (NKJV)

Summary: Paul has given us his explanation of God’s sovereignty in relationship to Israel. While those who reject Christ are responsible for their decisions, nonetheless they are also hardened according to God’s decrees. Yet, we have seen that even in the hardening of some, God has a purpose, to bring the gospel to all His true Israel – all of His elect – that they might be saved. Now, Paul continues by showing the relationship of Jews and Gentiles within the New Covenant. They are all partakers of the same root of God’s covenant blessing. Whereas God had promised both spiritual and national blessings to Abraham descendants; now He fulfills those spiritual blessings to the New Israel, which consists of Jews (natural branches as descendant of Abraham) and Gentiles (wild branches, grafted in through faith).

BENEDICTORY READING: Galatians 6:14-16

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (NKJV)

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