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Romans, by Gordon H. Clark.

The Future of Israel (11:1-36)

Hath God then cast away His people forever? Not at all. First, His people, in the sense of those individuals whom He foreknew, God has not cast away. This does not mean all the Jews. For as it was in the time of Elijah, so now the elect are a remnant. Election is of grace, not of works, so that while the remnant obtained grace, the rest were blinded. God gave them the spirit of slumber and caused them to stumble in order to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

Of course, no one would suppose that God would cast away the remnant elected by grace. But there is also another sense in which God will not cast off His people. The Jews as a race still figure in God’s plan and they will have a glorious future. For if the impoverishment of the Jews in the first century enriched the Gentiles, the return of the Jews in the future will produce much greater blessing. It will be like life from the dead.

The history of the Church can be illustrated by an olive tree. Some of its original natural branches were broken off so that branches from a wild olive tree could be grafted in. This, of course, is no compliment or ground of boasting for the Gentiles. And if God did not spare the natural branches because of their unbelief, the Gentiles should take heed lest God spare not them also. Furthermore, if God has grafted in wild branches, is it not all the more certain that He will graft back the natural branches at some future date?

The blindness of the Jews is to continue until the “fulness [sic] of the Gentiles” be come in. This fulness may indicate a time when the great majority of Gentiles then living shall have been converted. Virtually the whole world will be Christian. Such an interpretation makes a proper contrast with “all Israel” in the next verse. Or “the fulness of the Gentiles” might possibly refer to a time when all the Gentiles whom God has chosen for salvation, even though not a majority, have been saved and God will save no more of them. At any rate, when this fulness occur, then the great majority of the Jews shall be saved also. This ultimate conversion of the Jews was prophesied in the Old Testament.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out! . . . For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen” (11:22, 36)

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Christians can be divided into two groups. Many or most belong to the self-identified Christian group, and some or a few belong to the elect Christian group. Self-identified Christians believe that a person must exercise “free will” for salvation. They believe that God wants everybody to be saved, but it’s up to the individual to either accept or reject God’s offer of salvation. God foreknows those who will respond and accept His offer of salvation, but He doesn’t predetermine who will accept salvation and who won’t.  Because people have been given the freedom to choose, God must adjust His plans accordingly based on people’s responses.

Conversely, elect Christians believe that man’s will is not free but it’s God who freely chooses who will be saved and who won’t be saved. They believe that God chose those whom He would save, i.e., the elect, before He created the world. He foreknows those whom He will save because He knew them and planned to save them before He created the world.

Both self-identified and elect Christians cite Scripture to support their theological positions on free will and election, and the vast majority of Christian denominations today preach and teach that salvation depends upon free will, and not election.

I.M. Kane

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