로마서 11:13 - 24
20180218 Sunday Sermon
Romans 11: 13-36 /
There is something I've been thinking about for a long time.
It is about having meaningful encounters.
I have always thought that I want to have meaningful encounters rather than fleeting relationships.
By having meaningful relationships, we can influence each other deeply.
I think this era is a flood of encounter.
Too many contacts.
Social psychologists say that nowadays people have "weak connection". (ppt)
In the flood of encounter, people try to make a good first impression but they do not know how to learn from each other.
They are immature in communicating and interacting each other.
I think it is a problem.
We have many different means of encountering with others but the principle of knowing each other is missing in our relationships.
It is hard for us to get into a mature relationship at times when we are surrounded by “weak connections”.
Some psychologists say, "Life with only weak connections is to be isolated ..."
What a man need is a strong connection.
That is how it keeps us healthy and strong.
Some people enjoy weak connections.
There is a benefit of this kind of relationship.
You may be friends with people from all over the world through the social network system such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on.
By encountering many people on the surface level, you may experience many different things without being obligated in the relationship.
We live in Hawaii but we are updated with whatever is going on in the other side of the world.
Yes, it surely helps us broaden our perspective.
However, there is something missing this kind of relationship.
You may connect with thousands of people from all over the world to share your interests and useful information but you cannot show your love and gain trust from them.
You cannot truly touch the person’s heart deeply.
I hope that you may richly experience different encounters and relationships.
I hope we will open our eyes to the new world through the many encounters in our lives, even though we may not be able to stay there.
We will continue to make the relationship strong and meaningful.
Encounter with many people expands the horizon of life, but it can not bring about a fundamental and lasting change of life.
This is only obtained through having meaningful relationships.
So, what is the criteria for a meaningful relationship?
It is that whether we allow this relationship to affect my life or not. (ppt)
If you want to improve the relationship to be meaningful, you must permit that person to influence your life.
It's really hard.
It's often inconvenient to have someone come into my life.
However, it is the crucial part of a relationship.
You need to be willing to be open.
You need to show yourself.
And it is not easy.
In weak connections, there is only exchange of information.
But a meaningful relationship has sharing of emotion.
Instead of giving and receiving facts, you are sharing feelings.
From this perspective, we can also understand the changes of Jesus' disciples.
There was no change in the beginning of the disciples who followed Jesus.
They encountered with Jesus, but there was no change.
John and James, whose temper was wild, were still wild.
Peter still was short-tempered.
Those without wisdom ... There was still no wisdom.
The ones who used only petty tricks, they were still fools.
There was no change.
They had Jesus on their side but they kept their old behaviors.
They did not receive Jesus into their lives yet.
They did not allow Jesus to influence their lives. (ppt)
However, Jesus appeared to his disciples again after he died on the cross and resurrected.
During this 40 days, the lives of his disciples were completely changed.
The disciples welcomed Jesus.
They have allowed Jesus in their lives.
The change began to emerge.
I think this is a true change, a principle of true maturity in relationship.
I want you to have a deeper relationship with Jesus.
When you first come to church and encounter with Jesus, you see a new world.
You will discover a new and beautiful world that you have not seen before.
It is so different from this hard and complicated world we live in.
But it does not end here.
In order to live and experience the new world, you must know Jesus.
You must truly meet Jesus.
There must be a real genuine encounter.
You have to let the Lord come into your life.
Paul is talking about grafting in Romans 11 today.
The content is simple.
Israel was the branches, but they have been broken off, and the Gentile was not the original branches but they have been grafted.
If so, why did Israel get broken off and why the Gentiles have been grafted?
Think of it in the same context.
Now, why did the disciples of Jesus not change?
Because they did not truly accepted Jesus.
But why have they changed with the resurrected Lord?
Because they truly knew Jesus by accepting him.
Why was Israel broken off?
Because Israel did not truly know God.
They were broken off because of unbelief.
Why did the Gentiles get attached?
They stood by faith.
In other words, meaningful encounter brings change. (ppt)
Isarel was the branches but they have been broken off because they did not accept Jesus.
They did not allow Jesus in their lives.
Therefore, no change has occurred in their lives and they have been broken off.
However, the Gentiles hoped to be attached to Jesus even though they were not original ones.
There was a real, fundamental, and continuous change in their lives that resembled Jesus Christ.
Therefore, they have been grafted.
They have been attached.
Israel was broken off because they could not bear fruit.
What fruit is this?
It is to resemble the image of Christ.
It is the fruit of change.
We often think the fruit as the number of people whom are added to the congregation.
But the real fruit is a change that resembles the image of the Son of God. (ppt)
Without this change, we can not help but be broken off.
This is the lesson we should learn from today's scripture.
I can almost feel Jesus’ heart in these words.
Jesus never intended to cut off anyone.
Jesus never compared who is better than the other to be amongst his followers.
What is the true intention of this story?
It is that Jesus wants us to bear fruit.
Therefore, he could have cut off Israel and grafted Gentiles.
Jesus wants us to change from our foolishness to the image of the Son of God, a beautiful being.
This is the true heart of Jesus.
I hope that we have wisdom to know this.
This is the mystery of God and the wisdom of God.
People do not seem to know this.
To imitate the image of the Son... To be transformed into a true person ...
Because of this purpose, Israel was cut off, and the church in Rome is now attached.
But in this passage, there is also a warning.
In verse 21, Paul says,
“For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.” (ppt)
In other words, "It is certain that God has mercy on you, but it is also clear that he is a righteous God.” (ppt)
He can cut off his original branches.
God's justice and God's mercy... it is on the cross.
Without that enlightenment, this word can not be understood either.
Paul also speaks to the people in Roman church.
Let’s read verse 22.
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off…” (ppt)
If there is no change in your life that resembles Jesus Christ, and if the fruit of the Spirit is not produced, then you too will be cut off.
As people read the book of Romans, they only think of it as an introduction to the doctrine of salvation.
If they just believe in Jesus Christ they will earn salvation.
But as you know, what Romans taught us is that the love of God that helps us become like the image of Jesus Christ by believing in Jesus. (ppt)
This is what the Romans really teach us.
Let us see now.
Why does God come into us and gives us grace?
Why does God transform us into the image of the Son and help us to follow?
What is the purpose of God to cut, graft, and change us?
To save me only?
No, it is not.
The heart of God transforms me so Israel can be saved through me. (ppt)
We had a question from Romans chapter 9.
The question was, “was Israel abandoned by God?”.
The answer to the question is no.
Israel will be restored and saved by the Gentiles.
For that reason, they were saved and transformed into the beautiful image of the Son.
God wants to open our eyes to the lost world and use our meaningful relationship to grow to be like the Son of God.
Let’s look at the verse 14.
“In the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them…” (ppt)
In verse 24,
“After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!” (ppt)
In verse 25,
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,” (ppt)
The beginning part of the verse 26,
“…and in this way all Israel will be saved.” (ppt)
The verse 31 says,
“So they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.” (ppt)
These words are so good to hear.
They too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you..."
Brothers and sisters, we were all an olive tree that is wild by nature.
And now we are grafted into a cultivated olive tree by grace of God.
It does not end here.
There is a mission given for you and I.
What is the mission?
It is a mission to bring Israel back to God. (ppt)
It is a mission to let Israel know Jesus through us.
So today I meditate on two things.
First one is that we now know what Jesus really wants.
Another one is that we need to know what is required for us to bring what God wants.
I thought this was the conclusion of Romans 1 to 11.
First, what does Jesus really want?
What Jesus really wants is revealed in today's scripture.
Jesus is more interested in the fruit of the Spirit in us than how big the size of a church can get.
Also, Jesus wants us truly receive the glory of salvation and bring him into our lives.
Can I speak a little more plainly?
Jesus' true heart is not to increase the size of the church.
It is not our mission to grow the size of the church.
That is not what God wants from us.
What does God want?
Each person is grafted onto a true olive tree to restore the beautiful image of God. (ppt)
By doing so we will be beautifully transformed.
People seem to feel free when they think about the faith in Jesus.
But do not be mistaken.
Does believing in Jesus mean that the burden of action is lost?
Is it that you are saved if you confess that you believe in Jesus Christ, so that you are completely free from your actions and responsibilities?
We have read and meditated on the book of Romans so far, now we will never be able to say that.
People who believe in Jesus confess their belief with their lips.
But moreover, you must receive Jesus.
With meaningful encounter with Jesus, your life will be transformed. (ppt)
It is not that you have faith in place of action, but that you have faith for action.
What does the Holy Spirit do?
Is He strengthening our faith without action? No.
It protects our deficiencies and fragile acts from the attack of Satan, and transforms and shapes us.
It is that what we have read through Romans so far.
The Holy Spirit helps us and work with us to make us become more like Jesus. (ppt)
We should not take this fact lightly.
I’ll wrap it up.
Brothers and sisters, the purpose of the existence of the church is not to grow up in size.
God wants each person to stand strong before God.
God is pleased with the changes that occurred within us.
It is not the extension of the church, it is our transformation that God pleases with. (ppt)
I am not opposing the growth of our church.
Our church must grow.
We must revive but not just outside, but inside as well.
I am less nterested in the increasing in size of the church.
I’d rather hope in greater revival in our hearts.
Then what do we need to do?
What God wants is to change us so then what do we need to bring that change?
Let’s look at the verse 14 again.
“In the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” (ppt)
I do not know how this sounds to you.
“arouse people to envy…”
Some people may misconstrue.
However, I think it is true.
We make the people of the world to envy us.
Many people criticize Christians to be disgusting due to our lack of integrity and character.
We need to be beautiful, charming, radiant, and orderly Christians in the world.
We need to transform inside so that the world would see our beauty and envy us. (ppt)
Brothers and sisters, once again I tell you that if we have something that is against the common sense of the world, ill-mannered, and uncomfortable we should abandon them.
I hope we become more honest.
I hope that we will be revealed so that we sort out what is not godly within us and cast them away.
I would like us to remember that this God’s mission: that he has entrusted to us as we build our church community together.
The church is the people who hold higher values than the world.
I would like us to live on a higher standard than the world, with a mirror to look at ourselves honestly.
We are not ashamed before God, nor ashamed in the sight of the world, because we are growing to become like Jesus through the words of God.
May God bless us to have many encounters with people to show the kingdom of God to the world.
Also, may God bless us to have meaningful relationships to touch hearts and encourage them to follow Jesus.
I pray that we are all to be used for the Lord to bring the world to Him.
I pray that we fulfill the will of God in His name. Amen.