Time Out, Times Two (Lent 30-2013)

The words “Time Out” have a couple of clear meanings to an American audience.  To parents, it’s a time when a child gets isolated, providing the child an opportunity for reflection upon the link between actions and consequences.  The other meaning comes from athletics: a “Time Out” is called so that a team’s coach can review strategy, articulate an upcoming play, give the players a breather or a pep talk, or to change the momentum of the game.

From the moment Paul began his Letter to the Romans, we’ve seen Paul’s outlining of the Gospel as first for the Jew and then for the Gentile (Romans 1:16-17).  It’s for everyone who believes.  But now, questions hang heavy in the air, particularly about Israel (e.g. national benefits, the Law, covenants, patriarchs, promises, etc).  Paul sees where their minds are going in Romans 11:1-11.

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1)

What about Israel now?  Are we being replaced as God’s chosen people?

Paul calls a Time Out, Times Two.

First, Time Out, huddle up!  Let’s look at the sweep of salvation.  From the time Adam and Eve sinned, God’s plan was to rescue His image bearers.  While He couldn’t rescue all of them (because some would continually rebel against God’s love and grace), God could rescue someSome would respond with faith in God.  While there’s a mysterious interplay between faith and grace (Ephesians 2:8-10), no one’s being kicked off the team on account of national heritage.

Paul says, Look at me!  I’m a Jew and I’m still on the team!benched

But right now, there’s another Time Out.  Israel has been benched with four fouls in order to think about how God’s salvation has always been by grace, not by the Law, not national heritage, and not by works.

Four fouls, but by grace, you’re still in the game.  Think about the fundamentals: faith, not works!  This remnant exists today just as it did in Elijah’s day.  Maybe you’re benched now because God wants to extend salvation to other players too.

At the end of the game it’s not just the players on the court who are winners!  It’s the whole team!

God isn’t disposing of people groups.  It isn’t first for the Jew, then throw them away, and on to the Gentiles as the new chosen people.  No,  Jew and Gentile, we’re a team—the Gospel invites us all through faith in Christ to be the team of believers in God.

So Time Out, Times Two.  Game Plan: the Gospel is first for the Jew, then for the Gentiles.  Actions have consequences: let’s focus on fundamentals of faith and not just works, and we’ll come out as winners.

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Give it up for Lent: Thinking that the Jews have been replaced by the Church

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For further study:

  1. How might Christians treat baptism, the sacraments, church attendance, confirmation or Bible study as a suitable replacement for faith?  Do we risk being benched for such an attitude?
  2. Read the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-18 Elijah recounted actions he had been doing versus the Israelites, concluding with Elijah’s assumptions about being the only faithful one left.  What was God’s response to Elijah’s assertion?  In what ways do we act like we’re the only faithful ones left?
  3. In the story of Elijah, we see that God has quiet hidden ways about His working.  How does our passage Romans 11:1-11 show that God is still working behind the scenes? See v 11 particularly.


Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 19, 2013

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