Christmas and the God of All

Greetings and Holy Felicitations and Blessings,

I have long been remiss in sending out updates, and for that I give my sincere apologies. The links between me and you, my family of friends, are tenuous, and they should be guarded and tended with greater thanks and care than I have. The hardest part of this trial, by far, is the separation from those I love. The food and lack of liberty I can handle. You, my brothers and sisters in Christ — including those who have been part of conflicts, and for whom I pray continually that God would bring reconciliation between us — are my dearly loved and missed family.

Christmas is one of my favourite feast and celebration times. I love holidays and birthdays and traditions, like the rest of my family. I have so many beautiful memories of Christmases past (like when we got a set of huge dictionaries and screamed like a ‘normal’ family getting a gaming system), of times with my family having fun. And somehow with all the presents our parents were able to keep our focus on the giving, not the getting. We loved the gifts, but the joy of giving is what I remember most. People say that’s what Christmas is about — because it is when we celebrate God giving Himself to us. And they are right. But there is more to that picture…

God is infinite, awesome, and great. The Creator, the King of kings, Lord of lords. God and Father of glory itself. Eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, the beginning and the end. He cannot possibly be arrogant because however much He thinks of Himself, He’s right. He is the only person who is perfectly justified in being selfish and self-centered. We glorify Him and He glorifies Himself and He deserves it. He doesn’t owe anyone anything. He could have wiped out the universe and been perfectly right in doing so; we deserve it.

But Jehovah God is greater than that because He is more than Sovereign. He is humble. He is meek and He lowers Himself to care about us, His rebellious creation. “Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly.” (Psalm 138:6a) He stoops. He brought Himself down to our level and walked in the dirt with us. He didn’t value His Godhead and glory more than His desire to love, to give.

There are other religions with powerful gods, gods who can do great things. But that’s what’s so special about YHWH. He is not only the greatest God, He is also Jesus. He is a person. He loves. He feels. He hurts. He isn’t any less because He gives.

That’s why, in all the honour and glory and praise we give Him as the God whom all things glorify, and for whose glory all things are done, the ultimate standard of worth, and joy, and righteousness, and truth, we must also remember the other side of His amazing greatness. Our God is more than Everything — He is also humble. He accepts us and our infantile, half-hearted, stumbling love, our weak and dust-made efforts, our offerings of service broken and poorly wrapped… He accepts us.

And that is the greatest gift of all. That when He gave us Himself, wrapping His infinite greatness in finite weakness, He was giving us the ability to give to Him. Not in greed, for what can we give or add to Him? But in generosity, opening Himself up to a relationship of love and humility.

And that is something we should celebrate every day. The Christmas season isn’t over, not for my family (we tend to go from the day after Christmas to January 6th), but the time for giving and loving is never over. So give as Christ gave: humbly. And accept His gift of love.

May the God of all comfort grant you the revelation of His nearness and love, opening your heart as a channel to receive and give His passion and affection,
In the name and love and hope and joy of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus the Christ,
Your brother, Jaymes Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

Ask, Seek, Knock [from the Archives]

Bible

Image by Sean MacEntee via Flickr

Sometimes the old things come back to teach us again. This is a message I really think I need to share again with you all. It is a repost from 2009, in my early blog days. Enjoy. 🙂

Greetings,

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Devotions are important: crucially important. I am ashamed of how often and how much I have neglected to realize just how important they are. Oh yes, I would do them, but they would be more ‘me-time’ than ‘devoted-to-God’ time. Doing devotions right and getting stuff out of them is just as important as doing them in the first place. Time and focus is a major part of our treasure: ask any businessman. But where are we investing our time, and how are we investing it? Are we truly setting aside time out of our schedules and our hearts for God? I was assuredly not very devoted in my devotions before, and it affected every area of my life.

But what good is it to spend two hours in prayer and two hours in Bible reading every day if you get no fresh, new insights, strength or hope from them? Some people would say that it does not matter: read it anyway. But how many of us have considered that it might be that we are reading the Scriptures the wrong way? Practice only makes perfect if you are practicing right: practicing playing baseball holding the bat from the wrong end will not help you much (it actually might for all I know, I know practically nothing about sports, but I needed an example). The Pharisees were experts in the Scriptures if reading it was all it took: they had all of it memorized, with the commentaries. We ought to do more.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them,] because they are spiritually discerned.

So how ought we to pray and read our Bibles? Well, it is evident from Scripture that the unsaved cannot understand the Scriptures, for their minds are corrupted and earthly, and cannot understand heavenly things. When we are saved, we are given the Holy Spirit, which opens up to us the mysteries of God. Without the Holy Spirit we are helpless. But that means that if we do not rely upon the Holy Spirit, then we are just as helpless as the lost in reading God’s Word, which is a very sad condition.

So we see that we must needs rely on God, and not on ourselves in our devotions. And this is where the title of my article and my text verse comes in. I have learned that we can have utter faith that after every devotion time, we can come away with a new, fresh, empowering truth for the day. But this can only happen by faith and prayer. But it can happen every time: it is a promise from God. To expect anything else is belittling and dishonoring to God. So how do we do this? We ask, seek, and then knock!

First, as we prepare for our devotions, before we approach God in prayer or in His Word, we ask Him in faith to guide us by His Holy Spirit, and to open our eyes, that we may behold the wondrous things that He has for us in His Word. Then, instead of just sitting there and waiting for a voice like a trumpet or a still small voice to speak out of the blue and say: “Pray about ***, then go to Philippians 1:7-9 and see the note that I put in there for you,” we go and seek. Go looking for God’s insights in His Word or start praying about your day or whatever is on your list that you need to pray about. But when something seems to stick out off the page, or if you do not understand something: stop, for you might very well have found it. Then knock, asking God to open it up to you. Sometimes He will use one thing to get you to somewhere completely different, but He always will show you something. And it will be what He knows you need.

This is a Biblical pattern, and the promises are true and faithful, but I will not be so prideful as to say that this is the only way to do your devotions. I am only stating that it has transformed my devotions in the past two days. If you have any other tips, mindsets, Scriptures, experiences, or insights, please feel free to comment (comments are better because others get to see what you say as well) to let me know. This is something that we can all grow in, and I am finding that I need to grow in it especially.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Christ in Pain

Holy Spirit painting

When the chips are down. When the rubber meets the road. When all hell breaks loose, literally. When “things don’t quite turn out.” When your life is wrecked, devastated, turned upside down. When your heart is torn into shreds and fed to the dogs. When the worst thing you could imagine… happens. How is God glorified in that?This is really a re-phrasing of the age-old question: How can a loving God allow death and suffering in His world? And although the answer to that is inestimably crucial, the answer is too much for the scope of this article. If you don’t know the answer, please, please email or comment and let me know, and I will be more than happy to explain it. Knowing this is vital, absolutely critical.

But when I phrase it this way… the question opens itself up to being rephrased again, and to really reaching into the heart of a struggle that I see many Christians battling with. A turmoil I see in the lives of people I love. So… you know who you are… this is for you. * smiles *

When everything is against me. When the world opens up at my feet to swallow me…

How do I glorify God in that?

You see how it’s connected? Think about it. God hates sin. He hates evil. He hates death, suffering, misfortune. He uses it, yes, but He doesn’t like it. It is not a part of His perfection which He wants for us (and which He will give us in heaven).

So how is He glorified in it on Earth? And as Christians, where do we fit into that? We are commanded to glorify Him in everything we do, in every circumstance. And really, if you think about it, what else should we want to do?!

So… how do we do it?

It’s hard.

No… scratch that. It’s not.

It’s impossible.

Really. It is. It is superhuman, supernatural — absolutely completely a miracle.

And that is the key. See, in our own strength we can’t glorify God in circumstances like that. We can’t do anything that would bring Him honor or praise or bless Him in any way. So… we do things we can’t do. Impossible things. It’s really as simple as that.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

What is peace?

Look at a glass of water or a still lake. Look at it… placid… smooth… unrippled. Untouched, unbroken. It is at peace.

Drop a pebble in. It breaks, the surface begins going everywhere, reacting to the stone. It is troubled.

God’s peace is this: Doing what is right regardless of circumstances.

Some people say it is freedom from harm. Which isn’t true. The Holy Spirit brings about peace, as well as troubles and harm (unless being stoned and drowned and beheaded and robbed and broken and tormented doesn’t count as harm…). If peace is freedom from harm, then He contradicts Himself. God forbid.

It might be more accurate to say that it is freedom from fear of harm. But even that isn’t true, because fear is not something you can really get rid of. It is a God-given impulse of our flesh, and we can’t rid ourselves of it any more than we can remove our need for water and food. What really matters isn’t being unfearful, but being courageous.

Courage is doing what is right despite being scared.

That is peace. It is choosing not to let circumstances control you. It is not reacting to things that happen to you — but choosing to respond instead. It is not letting your heartbreak determine what is on your heart’s throne. Doing that is impossible.

The pain is there. It will be there.

But that pain isn’t bad. Not if you glorify God in it. Then it becomes a wondrous thing.

When the very thing which is a punishment and consequence of rebellion against God brings glory to God, when imperfection blesses perfection… that is glorifying God.

So in essence, the way you glorify God in trials is simply to do what you would have done if you didn’t have trials. Make sense?

You still love. You still have joy (not necessarily happiness, though). You still serve. You still forgive. You still trust. You still pray. You still draw closer to God. You are still a little Christ, a little light of His.

And the very fact that you are doing all that while being tormented is what brings God ten-fold glory. Because it is impossible.

Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t give any Scripture references in this whole blog post. It quotes from the Bible extensively inline, refers to Scripture constantly, and is built solidly upon multiple studies of several topics, but I didn’t give any references. So, I am curious if any of you have any Scripture quotes which apply to this which you would like to share in the comments. Or even if you don’t want to share them, go ahead anyway. 😉

A comment form is right below, and you can get Scripture here: www.sir-emeth.com/bible

Have at it. 🙂

Prayer Vs. Bible Reading: Which is Better?

Prayer is a beautiful, amazing, powerful thing.

Prayer

Image by Chris Yarzab via Flickr

God’s Word is an even more beautiful, amazing, powerful thing.

Or is it the other way around?

Or… does it make any sense either way? I don’t think it does. I often hear people extolling one or other of these glorious things over the other one, and although I get where they are coming from, it still annoys me. Sometimes a person is particularly gifted with the blessing of being able to walk very closely with God in prayer. The same thing happens with the Bible: some people have the grace to glean volumes from Scripture in a way that is positively miraculous and incredible beyond the ‘norm.’ Sometimes both are given to the same person, but not always.

And so when someone has a gift like that, they are generally excited and grateful with boundless joy over it, and because of the glory of what they are experiencing, they strongly encourage and exhort their friends to strive for the same thing. And they won’t exhort as strongly from experience for the other, because they simply don’t have that experience. And so you end up with a natural division… with one group of people dedicating absolutely everything to prayer, and the other group of people dedicating themselves absolutely to Bible meditation and study.

There are extremes, and there are gradients all across the board, but that’s the tendency I see happening.

Is this good?

Well, you can’t deny that focusing on one is better than focusing on none. But why does this disparity occur? Why are some people gifted with an aptitude for one, and not the other?

God gives different gifts in different ways for different reasons.

Some gifts He gives equally to everyone, barring extenuating circumstances, such as rain. The rain falls on the just and on the unjust, unless there’s a drought in judgment from God, and the sun rises on the evil and the good, unless an audaciously faithful commander tells it not to in the name of God.

Some gifts He gives for seemingly no reason (in our earthly wisdom) out of His own plan and grace, such as the talents, challenges, and things that you are born with.

Some gifts He gives in fulfillment of an absolute promise, such as salvation. He promises that if you turn to Him and believe on His name, you will be saved, period, full-stop, no other option. If you seek, you find, if you knock, it will be opened, etc.

Some gifts He wants to give us, but won’t until we ask. Some of them He won’t give us until we sacrifice for it and work for it. Some He won’t give until we beg. Is that because He doesn’t want to give them to us? No, He just knows that we can do without them, and that we will be more blessed from them if we dedicate ourselves to seeking for them. He also wants to strengthen us through making us wait sometimes. Patience is a hard learned lesson.

I think it is the latter which plays most into whether or not we are blessed in prayer or the Word. Various things will make a person want to improve their walk with God in one or the other, and they will work at it and seek God in it with tenacious pleading and seeking, and God will give it to them. Sometimes God will give it for less trouble, other times for more. Sometimes He gives it for seemingly very little, perhaps because He knows you’ll need it for something. We never know.

But in any case, we do have a choice in the matter when it comes to where we are now. If one is lacking, believe you this: it will hamper the other. And you need to get it sorted.

Prayer and Bible reading are not really individual acts, or they shouldn’t be. They work in unison. In fact, the closest way I can see of looking at them is as two sides of a coin, or as breathing.

When you breathe (Go ahead, try it. Okay now stop. Just kidding! 😀 ), you breathe in… and you breathe out.

Doing just one and only that one kills you.

Doing one more than the other damages your health.

Praying and Bible study is like that. It’s a conversation.

Praying is talking things out to God: laying your burdens on Him; confessing your faults; praising Him for His goodness; thanking Him for His blessings; interceding on the behalf of others, and etcetera.

When you meditate on God’s Word, you are filling yourself with His Truth, washing yourself in His ways and testimonies, learning and being challenged, seeking exhortation and rebuke, finding answers and being guided, encouraged, equipped, and refreshed.

Do you see the pattern?

One is a form of expression – the other is a form of intake. If you do only one, you get messed up.

So try this experiment, as a kind of illustration. It isn’t the only way to pray or study your Bible, and it isn’t the best way, but it can really help improve both, I’ve found.

Open a passage of Scripture.

Start inhaling as you read.

When you come to the top of your breath, start exhaling as you begin to pray over what you just read or over something that was laid on your heart while you read.

At the bottom of your exhale, start inhaling again and switch to reading again.

(Oh, don’t try and inhale or exhale as much as you possibly can, just breathe normally.)

This isn’t Eastern mysticism or “empty your mind” meditation. It is simply a way of learning the synergistic and symbiotic relationship of praying and Bible reading. And it works.

I’ve seen many very neat blessings come out of this in my own devotions, and I’d like to see what you think when you try it. So don’t forget to come back and comment. 🙂

Eccentricity, Mathematics, and Peculiar People

Examples of orbital trajectories with various ...

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I am eccentric. Quite so. In fact, almost invariably so. And I quite like it.

Now, when most people notice my eccentricity (and they do), they generally comment on how weird it is, and then make some comment about fitting in or having to still be able to communicate with people or something along those lines.

They miss it.

Totally.

Why? Because they have a messed up perception of eccentricity and weirdness in general.

What does eccentric mean? What does it really mean?

Well if you go back to the roots, you find that it is founded in mathematics. An eccentric circle is a circle with a different center from another circle.

Not having the same center; — said of circles, ellipses, spheres, etc., which, though coinciding, either in whole or in part, as to area or volume, have not the same center; — opposed to concentric.

This is still a valid definition in use, and it directly affects the other definitions.

Not terminating in the same point, nor directed by the same principle.

So someone who is eccentric isn’t random, arbitrary, or capricious at all. Being eccentric means living with a different set of life principles than those you share company with (either by being in the same circles, or by working on the same things, whatever). You share some things in common with them, but you don’t share a common starting point or worldview.

The modern definitions of eccentric have become synonymous with unpredictable heterodoxes. The whole concept is one of any deviations from the societal norm being wrong by default.

So… which is good? To be eccentric, or not eccentric?

To be eccentric of course! We’re commanded to!

Or are we?

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

What does peculiar mean?

Appropriate; belonging to a person and to him only. Almost every writer has a peculiar style. Most men have manners peculiar to themselves.

It means you have something unique and special about how you do things… another way to say you have a different set of principles. You have a different center and goal.

So now we know we’re supposed to be eccentric, peculiar, and odd, at least as far as the world goes. Our goal is to have Christ and His Word as the center of our lives, wherever that leads us. Even if it means we disagree with other Christians… if God’s Word is our reason for it, then it isn’t a sin to disagree: the Bible is our center, and that’s what matters. Listen, test your center, always, but don’t be afraid for it to be different from other centers.

So what about communication then? If you’re so off-the-wall that no one can relate with you… what then? How do you impact them?

Good question. 🙂 I’ll write about that later, but for now, you can get started with your ideas in the comments. Go!

Oh God

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

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“Oh god that’s so funny!” Phrases like this, using the words “oh god” in a light and jocular fashion, are commonly seen and heard in normal conversation and in media.

“Oh god…” Phrases like this one, using these words as an expression of horror, shock, terror, or awe, are also commonly encountered, especially in movies.

And in general at least, Christians decry these usages.

Why?

If you ask someone about it, they will point to the Ten Commandments, in particular the third one:

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

They will also often equate taking God’s name in vain with blasphemy. These two are not identical or interchangable, however. They are very closely related, but not equivalent. Blasphemy is only one way someone can take God’s name in vain.

Blasphemy attacks God. It is an action in the opposite direction of reverence God – it slanders Him.

Taking God’s name in vain is much broader than this, though. To take God’s name is not limited to merely taking it into your speech. It includes your life.

When someone claims to follow God, whether he says he is a Christian or not, he is taking God’s name upon him and his life. This is even more true of someone who claims to be a Christian. And if you claim the name of Christ in this way, and you then view or treat or speak of His person as if He is somehow light or ineffectual, then you are taking God’s name in vain. You aren’t blaspheming, not necessarily, but you are violating the third commandment.

God is. God’s name is His personhood, His attributes, His very being. Every part of His majesty, glory, power, love, and Godhood is in His name.

Thus to reject His ability to change and transform your life and His promises of reward and blessings for those who submit to Him is taking His name in vain. God is worth it. God is able.

And now, take a step back and think…

We are created in the image of God!

That means that we all bear the name of God in our nature – in our very bodies, whether we like it or not. And so anyone rejecting or neglecting Him is taking His name in vain.

But wait… can any of us truly and completely accept every part of God into our lives? That is the definition of perfection! And we cannot be perfect, so this command is impossible to obey!

Yes. It is.

Just like the first command is impossible. Just like every command that God gives us of this sort is impossible. We can’t do it.

But God can. And He does. And He will.

It will take all our lives, but we’ll get there. In heaven, at last, the work will be complete. And we will rest from sin and failure for eternity. Think about it!

Here on earth we strive towards that goal. We struggle, we fail, we yearn, we mourn, we falter, we continue, we fight. But through it all we are living and breathing obedience to this command: Take not the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

For it is our hope, our faith, and our love for God that keeps us going. It is our desire to fulfill these commands, and God counts that to us for righteousness… the fulfillment of those commands.

Isn’t that awesome?!

A lot more than a couple words dropped carelessly, isn’t it?

Every idle word that men let fall from their lips without thinking about it will be called into judgment, because those words come out of our hearts. God will not judge people because they used the words, but because they slighted Him.

So instead of throwing a fit about someone using two words, be saddened by the heart behind those words, and from your own heart, say the same, but with the truth of God behind it. When tragedy strikes, and you cry out, Oh God! When sorrow fills your heart, and you whisper, Oh God… When you look up at the glory of the heavens, and you sing out, Oh God! When you are full of joy and merriment, and you laugh, Oh God.

Mean it.

And So All Israel Shall Be Saved

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Image via Wikipedia

For some reason over the past couple years, people have found it incumbent upon them to ask what my views were on Israel. Yeah, right, as if you really wanted to know. * shakes head *

But evidently, they do. And they aren’t talking about my fascinating views on biblical government and Old Testament Israel (though there are a few nice people who listen to me ramble on about that), they want to know about what my views are on Israel as a nation in the current day scheme of things and in the future. * sigh *

This is one of the topics that I honestly avoid, actually, mainly because I haven’t found hardly anyone who agrees with me. 😛 But then, if I don’t talk about it… how do I know? Right.

So here I am, prodded at last into posting my views on this gnarly subject.

Before I launch in, though, I would like to establish a bit of common ground…

We all believe that anyone can be saved, right? That to do so, we call on the name of God? (You know what I mean by that.) Whether or not you are Calvinist, you should be able to agree with that on some level, since the Bible says so.

So we would all agree that no one will be saved merely because they have a specific ancestry, right?

Good. 🙂

(If you don’t, you probably won’t get much out of this article, but you can send me an email explaining why you think that if you want, though I might not answer with anything more than an “interesting,” haha.)

There are tons of places in the Bible that deal with this issue, and I can’t go through them all. Far from it. I won’t even be able to scrutinize the ones I do bring up in any great depth. Simply too much there, and too little time.

I would like to start off by quoting three passages that have a common phrase:

Acts 15:8-9 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Romans 3:22-24 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

These are only representative samples of a crucial theme throughout the Bible, because this is the heart of what the New Testament is. The New Testament’s glory is in its all embracing invitation: God’s kingdom is no longer a nation on earth – it now transcends national borders and lineages.

But what is Israel right now?

Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

It isn’t necessarily that nation over in Palestine or even descendants of Abraham… at least not fleshly.

Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Now, there are two passages that are key to this subject, and they must be taken together. I would love to do a verse by verse commentary on them, but that will have to wait (I do actually plan on doing that someday, though). The first is Romans 10-11, and the other is Hebrews 8.

Romans 10:1-3 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Paul is talking about the Israel everyone thinks of: the Israel of his fleshly kinsmen. This is made obvious by the context: they aren’t saved.

And then Paul explains what they are missing: they have a false trust.

Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

They are trusting in their own righteousness that they have in and of themselves as Jews, rather than the righteousness of God through faith.

Romans 10:17-21 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

They were told, they knew, it was made clear to them, but they rejected it, and now, have lost it. They are no longer the nation of God.

Now here we get into some fascinating stuff.

Romans 11:1a I say then, Hath God cast away his people?

Paul asks a natural question: does this mean that now Jews can’t be saved (as some believe)?

Romans 11:1b God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

Obviously God didn’t make it so that Jews can’t be saved… Paul is one!

Romans 11:2-5 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

There is a remnant of Jews who are saved… by grace through faith. Not just Paul. They are not a lost cause: they just need to change the object of their faith. Being a Jew doesn’t make them saved.

Romans 11:13-15 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is actually also a ministry to the Jews: he hopes that by preaching to the Gentiles, he will provoke the Jews into listening to the Gospel. A Jew being saved is like life from the dead in a whole new way.

Romans 11:17-24 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

What is this tree? Well, obviously it isn’t the nation of the Jews, because we don’t become a part of the Jewish nation when we are saved… we become a part of Christ. And the Jews who aren’t saved don’t stop being a part of their lineage… they simply are not a part of God’s family.

John 15:1-2, 5 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

The tree here is the True Israel. The Kingdom of God, that is not of this world. We, being Gentiles, have become a part of it by faith, and those who were of it, who did not stand in faith, but instead stood on their lineage, were cast out (as a whole). They can still stand by faith, though, and become a part of the true Israel again.

Romans 11:26a And so all Israel shall be saved…

Ah, but some say in the future, the nation of of the Jews will turn en masse to God and be saved. And then in that future, God will work with them as a nation on Earth. They generally point to this phrase right here for their support of this idea.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is saying just the opposite.

Romans 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

What is this covenant? What covenant did God make with Israel in which He said He would take away their sins? Now we turn to Hebrews 8 for the answer:

Hebrews 8:6-13 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

I highlighted some key phrases there, but the whole thing is one cohesive whole that needs to be read over and over and over again. Powerful and amazing passage, that.

Paul is looking back at a promise that God made with the Jews in the Old Testament. He said that the Jews would reject the covenant that they had, and that God would replace it with a new one… with a whole new system. In this system, the Kingdom of God is no longer based on lineage, but on faith. Everyone in the Kingdom of God, in the New Israel, will be righteous, made righteous by God himself, not by sacrifices and lineage.

And so… all Israel will be saved. Is saved, actually, because he is talking about now. He is talking about the New Testament. This is the New Covenant!

Romans 11:30-32 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

The Jews as a nation rejected God and His covenant, as prophesied. And because of that unbelief, God brought in the New Testament, bringing mercy upon the Gentiles. Upon us. He rejected lineage as a criteria for His kingdom, so that He could have mercy on everyone.

Romans 11:33-36 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!
34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.