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Book of Romans, Sermon Starters—Week 12

Evangelistic Preaching Helps for August 20, 2017–Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year A
by Kwasi Kena

Scripture Notes for Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Summary:

  • Paul asks and answers a serious question, "Has God rejected his people?" No!
  • Paul cites himself as proof that God has not given up on Israel saying, "I myself am an Israelite."
  • God has not rejected his people, his elect, whom God foreknew.
  • Disbelieving Israel is an enemy of the gospel, but God's election of Israel continues to make them beloved.
  • God's gifts and calling are irrevocable. God doesn't forget our divine destiny.
  • God countered Israel's disobedience toward the gospel with mercy toward the Gentiles.
  • Paul hopes that Israel will now turn to God and receive a similar show of mercy.
  • All who are imprisoned in disobedience may receive God's mercy.

Overview:
This week's reading is the culmination of Paul's extensive argument concerning how faithful God deals with largely disobedient Israel. This argument spans Romans 9-11. Throughout chapter 11, Paul raises and answers some critical questions of his day: namely: "Has God rejected his people [Israel]?" No! Has Israel stumbled so as to fall [permanently]? No! Israel has become hardened toward the gospel message, but God can even use hardness of heart for a redeeming purpose. God never gives up on people, "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Salvation entered the Gentile population, a show of God's mercy and grace. That same mercy and grace are extended to all — even to those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Lord.

Key Preaching/Teaching Points:
Rejection Does Not Generate Replacement. Israel "according to the flesh" appears to have failed to receive salvation in Christ. How does God respond to those who reject Jesus Christ? Does this open the door for "replacement theology," in which God replaces the Jewish people with Gentiles? Paul never supports such a position. He uses himself as proof. He is a Jew, a descendant of Abraham, who has accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. Thus it is possible for other Jews to find salvation.

Intercession Is Key. Paul represents the faithful remnant in Israel through whom other Israelites would come to know Jesus Christ as Lord. A key point is that Paul, like Moses, purposefully interceded for Israel.

Salvation with Humility. Paul continues to teach the Gentiles that they are to live by faith in Jesus Christ without being arrogant about their salvation. Paul basically states that the reason that the Gentiles were now afforded the opportunity to experience salvation was because of Israel's disobedience. It was an act of God's mercy and grace, leaving no room for personal boasting.

Grace for All Imprisoned by Sin. Paul sums up one of his long arguments in the letter to the Romans. The key points of the argument are:

1.    All of humanity are under sin's power.

2.    All are in Adam, who fell under sin's power.

3.    The Torah only served to bind people to sin and death, because no one could keep the law perfectly.

4.    The Messiah came, fulfilled the law, and brought about salvation through his crucifixion and resurrection.

5.    Salvation is not just available to one "favored nation," Israel, for they, like the Gentiles, have been imprisoned by the power of sin.

6.    Salvation is an act of divine grace and mercy available to all who believe in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Key Questions:

1.    Does God "replace" us when we reject Jesus Christ as the risen Lord and Savior?

2.    Do we all have a "divine destiny" that God expects us to pursue with God-given gifts and graces?

3.    Whose personal intercession would make a great impact on you, your ethnic group, or your nation?

Evangelistic Preaching Tips

This week's passage advances several key points: (1) God never gives up on us, even when we reject the gospel message. (2) Salvation is a gift; no one should boast that personal achievement warranted salvation. (3) Paul's love for Israel translates into perpetual intercession. Whom do we love with such passion?

Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 [An Evangelistic Approach — To lead people to Christ]
Not Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind. Through bad choices or bad circumstances, people can wind up feeling distanced from and forgotten by God. The Methodist Revival Movement is said to have begun as fervent campaign for the hearts, minds, bodies, and lives of the perishing multitudes in eighteenth-century England. That fervent campaign became a tangible demonstration of God's love toward the marginalized. The marginalized are with us today: the poor, the sick, the orphaned, the imprisoned. Claim our Methodist heritage and speak to the hearts of those on the margins through the message and actions of your congregation. Be the living demonstration of God's love and prove — that to God — people are Not Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind.

Aim: Inspire the congregation to be living demonstrations of God's love to the marginalized.

Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 [A Renewal Approach — To strengthen the faith of Christians]

Reeling in the Remnant. Israel, God's chosen people, clung to traditional beliefs that valued Jewish ancestry and keeping the law. Their penchant for maintaining tradition prevented them from seeing God's new revelation — Jesus Christ, their Messiah. What traditional thinking clouds our view of God today? What do we believe needs to be addressed first before we embrace Jesus Christ fully? A small dose of Christianity leads some to believe they are immune from further discipleship. God bestows gifts and calling upon each of us; they are our divine destiny. God never forgets about our destiny even when our Christian practice is reduced to a remnant, a portion of its former vibrancy. Paul interceded for the remnant in Israel. Who is interceding for the remnant in your congregation? Who is Reeling in the Remnant?

Aim: Encourage the development of an active intercessory prayer ministry to pray for revival and renewal in your congregation.

Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 [A Reclamation Approach — To restore "de-churched" individuals to vital faith in Jesus Christ]

So, You're a Christian — So What? Heartache over his people's lost condition. Sincere but tough Christian love expressed toward others. An undying hope that everyone would experience the fullness of God. Those statements characterize Paul the Apostle. His outward actions demonstrated to the distant observer that he was a Christian. How do people know that we are Christians? How are we demonstrating our faith now? God grants us irrevocable gifts and calling with the expectation that we will do something with them. Satisfaction with personal salvation is not enough. God and the world are looking for more. The world hears us mouthing the words, "I am a Christian," and responds with a thunderous — "So what?" What is your response? silent satisfaction with church membership or active demonstration of God's love toward others?

Aim: Inspire de-churched people to move beyond being Christian in name only.

Provide Opportunities for a Faith Response

Not Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind. Conduct a short-term ministry project that involves the congregation and community to demonstrate God's love. For example, consider the potato project through the Society of Saint Andrew.

Reeling in the Remnant. Organize an intercessory prayer ministry. Consider inviting people to pray for the pastor, the worship service, revival and renewal within your local church and community. For more information on developing a prayer ministry, see Renewal Prayer Ministries.

So, You're a Christian — So What? Invite de-churched people to participate in the short-term ministry project above.

Provide Opportunities for Follow Up

1.  Conduct the short-term ministry project and begin to develop a relationship with the participants. Invite participants to future projects and activities in the life of your church. Perhaps individual members can establish a personal rapport and begin to engage in friendship evangelism. For an example of friendship evangelism, go to www.ethnicharvest.org/ideas/friendship.htm

2.  Promote ongoing recruitment for your local church's prayer ministry. Establish prayer as the foundation for church life and ministry.

3.  Actively communicate and reach out to de-churched people who are members of your congregation or live in your community. Invite them to participate in activities that make a difference in others' lives.

Resources for Romans

Follow Up Resource Available in pdf
Small Groups & Accountability: The Wesleyan Way of Christian Formation, by Steven W. Manskar, Director of Accountable Discipleship, Discipleship Ministries

General Evangelism Resources

Categories: Evangelistic Preaching Guidance