We talk a lot about having faith, but don’t consider of give enough credit to Christ Who authors and finishes our faith; as well the Father and Spirit Who actually have faith for us. Same goes for trusting, believing, hoping, persevering, praying and all the other spiritual practices and attributes that the God Head 3-in-1 enable us partake in. Like if Holy Spirit doesn’t give us the enablement to do these things, we can’t do them of our own accord or in our own strength. We really do all things through the strength of Christ and according to the Will of the Father.
With all these taken into consideration, Holy Spirit continues to unravel a great mystery to me, as I’m sure He has been and still is to a plethora of people He deems fit to behold, carry and share these too-good-to-be-true Gospel mysteries…; those who He tells me “have beautiful faces because they have beheld Christ and feet because they carry and share His Gospel.
In John 15, Christ introduces Himself to us as The True Vine, calls us His branches and says His Father is the Gardener Who cuts off every branch that doesn’t bear fruit and prunes the branches that do bear good fruit so that they might bear even more good fruit. He admonishes us to abide in Him as He abides in us because in Him, we have everything we need and severed from Him, we can do and have nothing. Without Him, we’d be broken off, fall to the ground and thrown away like useless branches that wither and gathered into a pile to be burned.
Seems final right? That’s what I thought. Till He started to unravel more mysteries, reveal more truths and tell me things that shook the table and core of my Christianity. Fearn’t, I’m still enabled to be a lover of Christ and hope to always love Him and feed His sheep — of which I’m one — as Holy Spirit enables me.
Fast forward to Paul, who being under the transformative Light and Power of Christ throughout His epistles and letters, really shakes the table in likeness of the first Table Shaker Himself. For the sake of this post, let’s go straight to Romans 9 through 11.
Paul starts off in chapter 9 letting us know his concern for his Jewish kindreds, saying he is willing to be forever cursed — cut off from Christ —, if only that’ll save them from their unbelief based works system of trying to get right with God. He goes on about how His kindreds don’t seem to get the point of God’s mercy and compassion even with Him revealing His glory to them, giving them the privilege of worshipping a God like Him and allowing them partake of His wonderful promises. Because they don’t get the point and are more drawn to the fleshly connotation of being descendants of Abraham than they are aware of the spiritual essence of being children of God in Christ; they revert to works when in truth, God chooses and calls people — not because of their good or bad works, — but according to His purposes… just like in His fairness, He chooses those He’ll show mercy and compassion to — not because they deserve it but especially undeservedly so — over the wrath that He could possibly show to them. Thank You Lord for Your compassionate and merciful patience… even for those destined for destruction; just so You can make the riches of Your glory known and shine even brighter by calling those who were once known as “not Your people” Your people, referring to them as children of the Living God, loving those You didn’t love before.
Here’s why I believe the God Head 3-in-1 has faith for us:
“…Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, “I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” — Romans 9:30-33 NLT
It was by faith that this took place! First by Christ’s — Who authors and finishes ours — faith; then perhaps the mustard seed faith He enables someone so “far away” from the Father, who having been in the distant lands is eligible for His “name call”. Someone who perhaps isn’t aware that they believe yet or know they have any faith; but who somewhere in their heart trusts that they won’t come to doom… “someone undeserving”. Someone like me, or someone like you. The point is, we’re all undeserving, yet the Mercy of our Abba — Christ — thinks we’re worth His faith!
Paul continues in chapter 10 with a deep longing in his heart for the salvation of his people who he iterates are enthusiastic for God yet misdirected in their zeal because they think the external works of keeping the law is what makes them right with God. They don’t realise Christ has accomplished the law and is the way through which God makes people right with Him, so they are unable to trust Him. And because this is the case, they can’t enabledly come into the understanding that salvation is for everyone.
Doesn’t this stance remind us of us presently? When I say us, I’m referring to those who have received salvation and immediately take the stance of “us versus them”, forgetting that they themselves were once “them”.
Question: Say a person — let’s call them A — lives governed by sin for the first 28 years of their life and upon turning 29, receives the light and starts living for Christ. Does the first 28 years of their lives make them any less of God’s child? Picture the thief on the cross. Picture Peter. Picture Paul. Picture you. Picture me.
I ask this because while some make think yes, Paul makes it a point to remind us in the previous chapter of Hosea’s account about God’s love for unfaithful Israel where He says:
“Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before. — Romans 9:25 NLT
So if our Heavenly Father Himself is willing to call and reclaim lost A — essentially us all — His people, who are we to not reconcile with or accept this truth and privilege which we ourselves have received? Who are we to say who’s Jew or Gentile? Who are we to judge or try to determine who gets to make Heaven when we can only see the works of man on the outside but not the heart of man which God is able to search and know?
Perhaps the inability to accept that salvation is for everyone is why the Lord says:
“I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles.” — Romans 10:19 NLT
and why Paul asks:
“Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! They were disobedient, so God made salvation available to the Gentiles. But he wanted his own people to become jealous and claim it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.” — Romans 11:11-12 NLT
Meaning the Lord is willing to go against nature, and do something contrary to us but normal to Him in His bid to not let us stumble far beyond recovery. He is willing spark up jealousy in those Who don’t realise what they have in a God like Him by letting them stray; just so He can rescue those who haven’t yet experienced Him as God; and use this to get the unrealising bunch to wake up… all so the bounty and harvest can be fuller.
In Romans 11 the finality I earlier considered is questioned because God causes a shift in the paradigm. He shows us that He is more than able to make us right with Him. He lets us see that He allows for some branches to be broken off and grafts other branches from wild olive trees to Him; God being the Root and Gardener Who is able to take the stem of another tree and attach it to Him — the Sap that allows for the joining and gives nutrient to this foreign stem being Christ—; Who is also able to reattach broken branches to Him.
If you know about the concept of grafting, you’ll agree with me that this is the most mind blowing thing about the Gospel! Because at some point, stem (let’s say of a pineapple) known as the Scion — which also means the heir of a notable family) — that’s grafted into the rootstock of a mango tree produces a pineapple-mango hybrid and eventually a pineapple that starts to taste exactly like a mango.
That God can take something that was potentially dead and make it undeservedly come back alive in Him, through nothing that the dead thing could’ve done and only through all that God Himself did through Christ is truly humbling.
It’s a privilege to be called Your Scions Lord, to partake in Your promises, to be grafted back into You, to draw from Christ, Your Sap… to be made whole and alive in You. Give us hearts that truly desire this privilege for all. Rather than conclude that anyone is counted out, remind us that You’re the Good Shepherd and You’re bringing all sheep into one fold. Give us the understanding that You’re able to make salvation available to all by the faith You have for us which is greater than any faith we can muster up; and that You know this because You know the end before the beginning and have seen the timeframe of restoration for all people like person A.
But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. — Romans 11:11, 17 NLT
““I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” — John 10:14-16 NLT
And on the back of this, give us Your understanding on why You call us to be living sacrifices who worship You in Spirit and in Truth; and know Your pleasing perfect will. Give us the patience to accept Your timing of restoration for all people and the grace to be gracious towards all people.
Help us through Christ.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. — Romans 12:1-2 NLT
Scripture for Further Reading
Romans 9 through 12
John 10 & 15
Click to find out more about Grafting