The Bible Baptist Church, Glasgow. > Romans 11:6
WERE SAVED BY WORKS IN THE PAST?
Romans 11:1-6. “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 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, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 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. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
Does this verse mean that people are now saved by grace but there was a time when they were saved by works?
To say that is true and that people were saved by works in the past is very shoddy bible reading and interpretation. To understand any passage of the scriptures you must take the context into consideration. This is the error of most if not all cults, taking one scripture out of context and making a doctrine of it. The grace mentioned in this passage is the grace of God in choosing the nation of Israel and not saving grace.
Romans chapter 11 deals with Israel and its place before God.
The passage has Israel is called the elect of God. This passage is not about believers or believing it is about God selecting the nation of Israel to be His people by grace! It is not about people being saved in the Old testament by works but now we are saved by grace. It has to do with the position of Israel as the elect of God
There can never be a faith-works system, because grace and works can never mix in any dispensation.
If you have grace then there is no more works, if you have works then there is no more grace. This verse shows that in the Old Testament there was no such things as faith and works for salvation. They are mutually exclusive, you cannot have them both together for salvation.
Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
The problem that Israel had was that they thought that THEIR works would bring them salvation but works and grace can never be mixed.
Romans 10:1-3 “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 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.”
It is either Grace or works, you can’t mix them, you can’t be saved by faith AND works. Only faith can please God because:
Isaiah 64:6. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses”
Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Who is the Elect talked about in this passage?
Isaiah 41:8-9. “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.”
Isaiah 42:1 “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”
Isaiah 45:4 “For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”
Isaiah 65:9 “And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.”
Isaiah 65:22 “They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.”
In this passage of scripture, we are told how the nation of Israel persecuted God’s prophets and thought that their relation to God was secure because they had the law and the temple. Many times, God complained to them that they kept the law, but their heart was far from God.
Isaiah 29:13 “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”
Jeremiah 7:4 Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these.
Jeremiah 7:22-26 “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.
The problem with Israel was their pride and they believed that God could not reject them.
Even Jeremiah, warned Israel of their terrible pride that convinced them that as God's elect they could do as they wished with impunity; their swollen ego led them to believed that no harm would ever befall them; that their land and temple were inviolate; that no conqueror would subdue them! They felt that their works justified their relationship with God and that He could never reject them no matter how they behaved. God chose the gentiles to show Israel what His grace could do and to make them jealous of the relationship the gentiles had with God.
Jeremiah 7:1-12. “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD'S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.”
Paul reminds us that God did not chose Israel because of their works, their size or anything else. God’s chose Israel by Grace and not their works; this is the context of Romans 11. In like manner God did not chose the gentiles over Israel because of their works but by His Grace. This is the clear context of Romans 11.
How did God find and chose Israel?
Ezekiel 16:1-6. “Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.
God’s choice of Israel was by Grace, God’s chose the gentiles also was by Grace and not works.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Isaiah 44:1 “Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:”
Isaiah 44:2 “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.”
The context of Romans 11 is that God will bring back Israel to himself by His grace and mercy and that the gentiles should not think that God is finished with Israel.
Isaiah 54:7-10. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
Romans chapter 11 teaches us that God’s choice of Israel was not because of their works but by His Grace. Just as even we today are not saved by our works but by the grace and mercy of God, we by faith receive the righteousness of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Now, no one was ever saved by keeping the law, period!
Romans 3:20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Galatians 3:11 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”
Galatians 2:21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”