Thursday, June 10, 2010

Receiving Gifts

Romans 11:35 "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

35 ἢ τίς προέδωκεν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀνταποδοθήσεται αὐτῷ; 36  ὅτι ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ δι᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα· αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.

I am finding that blogging through Romans a chapter at a time is nearly impossible.  Therefore, I find myself focusing on the final verse in some chapters.  This is one of them.  Chapter 11 has been about how there is a native root and vine (Israel) into which wild branches (Gentiles) have been grafted.  Basically, Paul is telling the Jews how salvation in Christ works.  While this chapter is addressed primarily to Jews, as a Gentile it fills me with awe.

Look back at the Old Testament and you will see why I react this way.  The Old Testament tells the sad story of God's unfaithful people.  He set them apart to be His and put them in situations where it was clearly only by His grace that they survived and thrived.  Yet they missed Messiah when He came to earth the first time and now Paul is explaining their need for Him.  Meanwhile, as a Gentile who has come to know Messiah as my Lord, I am amazed that God would look to someone such as me for salvation.  This would have been pretty much unthinkable in first-century Palestine because everyone knew that the Jews were the people of God and the Gentiles were uncircumcised heathens.

This is why I focus on these two verses.  If you know Christ you have been given a gift that you can never repay.  Some focus on works as a way of paying God back.  You can't do that so don't try.  We do works out of gratitude for our salvation, not as a means of recompense.  It is a gift.  It is a gift that even a first-semester Greek student should be able to understand: ὅτι ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ δι᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα.  Everything is from Him.  What is the proper response?  αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.  He deserves all the glory.

Where are you?  Are you a wild branch rejoicing at being grafted onto the true Vine?  Or are you a wild branch still on your own tree?  Are you cut off from the true Vine?  Come to the Vinedresser and He will take care of you.

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