The Gifts and Calling of God
Romans 11:25-12:8

A. Light in the Church
1. How many Church members does it take to change a light bulb?
a) Charismatics/Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.
b) Presbyterians: None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.
c) Roman Catholic: None. Candles only.
d) Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change.
e) Episcopalians: Two. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks.
f) Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.
g) Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.
h) Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Church wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring bulb of your choice and a covered dish.
i) Lutherans: None. Lutherans don’t believe in change.
j) Amish: What’s a light bulb?
k) Any church that is over 30 years old: Ten: One to actually change the bulb, and nine to say how much they liked the old one.
2. The good news in today’s passage is that the character and the plans of God do not change, regardless of the way human beings behave.
a) A great illustration of this in the Bible is Jonah.
b) God called him to go to Nineveh and preach repentance, but Jonah rebelled against God and tried to run away from God.
c) But God redirects Jonah by having him cast off a ship in a storm and being swallowed by a great fish.
d) Then Jonah ends up preaching a message that brings the wicked city of Nineveh to repentance.
e) God never changed Jonah’s gift of preaching or his calling for Jonah.
f) Even though Jonah was sinful, God still used him in a powerful way when he repented of his sin.

I. God’s Character and Plans
A. Set Aside for a Time (Romans 11:25-26)
1. Anyone who studies Romans 11 carefully will see that verses 28 32 are a summary of what Paul has been teaching for three chapters.
a) He has been asking why Jewish people seem to have been rejected by God, why they have turned their backs on the Messiah, and he has answered that it has been for the sake of Gentile salvation.
b) Using the image of a cultivated olive tree and branches from a wild tree, he argued that Jewish branches have been broken off so those wild branches, which represent Gentiles, might be grafted in.
2. The Jewish people have been set aside for a time so that salvation might be extended to all the people of the world.
a) But this setting aside is only temporary, for once “the full number of the Gentiles has come in … all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25 26).
b) There will be a time at the end of the age, when widespread Jewish conversions will take place just before the final judgment.
3. God chose the Jews to be his special people, and nothing that has happened since, or will happen, can change that choice or relationship.
a) Because God’s character does not change, His plans do not change.
b) His plans for the Jews are unchanging, and His call for them to tell all the world who He is has not changed – it is irrevocable.
c) His plans and calling for you have not changed!
d) His plans and calling for The Lighthouse have not changed!
e) They are irrevocable!
4. In what ways does God not change?

B. God Does not Change
1. God’s life does not change.
a) Created things have a beginning and an end, but God does not.
b) His life is a constant.
c) God does not grow old or mature or weaken or grow stronger.
d) God cannot change for the better, because he is already perfect, and he certainly cannot change for the worse.
2. God’s character does not change.
a) One of the most repeated passages in the Bible is Exodus 34:6 7, in which God reveals himself to Moses, saying, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”
b) That is what God was like in the days of the exodus, and that is what he is like today.
c) He can be counted on to be as kind, gracious, forgiving (and holy) as he always was, because His character does not change.
3. God’s truth does not change.
a) This means that the truths of the Bible do not change.
b) What we read in the pages of Holy Scripture is as right and true today as ever.
4. God’s ways do not change.
a) He continues to act towards sinful men in the way that he does in the Bible.
b) He still shows his sovereignty and lordship over everything in creation
c) He still blesses those on whom he sets his love in a way that humbles them, so that all the glory may be his alone.
d) He still hates the sins of his people, and uses the consequences of their sin to turn their hearts away from disobedience and back to Himself.
5. God’s purposes do not change.
a) The ups and downs of history do not frustrate God or cause him to change what he has determined beforehand to do.
b) Ester 4:13-14
13 And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.
14 for if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
c) What God does in time he has planned in eternity and what he has planned in eternity is carried out in time.
6. God’s Son does not change.
a) Perhaps most blessed of all for Christian people, the Lord Jesus Christ does not change.
b) He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), and it remains true that
c) “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him. “ (Hebrews 7:25).

II. God’s Gifts and Calling
Paul gives two examples of God’s faithfulness: God’s gifts and God’s call. What do these words refer to?
A. God’s Gifts (Romans 12:6-8)
1. Some commentators think that God’s gifts are linked to the words call and covenant, which means that Paul is thinking of the specific gifts given to the covenant people as part of that relationship.
2. The listing of the gifts given to Israel is in Romans 9:4-5.
3. This means that the closing verses of this middle section of Romans take us back to the beginning:
a) “4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” (Romans 9:4 5).
4. These gifts are “God’s gracious gifts” and they also refer to the gifts of God’s grace in Romans 12:6-8.
a) We call them Spiritual gifts and the fruit of these gifts are faith, hope, love, peace, life everlasting, etc.
b) All of these are the gifts that God gives to His people.
(1) One of the most important things you need to know in your Christian life is what are the gifts that God has given you!
c) What is the purpose of these gifts? That is a part of God’s calling for each of us.

B. God’s Call (Romans 11:30-12:4)
1. Our first instinct is to think of it as the call of the Holy Spirit that leads the person receiving it to faith.
a) The word was used this way in Romans 8, where Paul wrote, “And those he predestined, he also called” (v. 30).
b) However, this is probably not the right meaning here.
2. In this verse “call” refers to God’s call in our life serve God and His Kingdom.
a) It means that God has chosen the nation of Israel to be a special nation for His purposes.
b) He will not and cannot, abandon that choice just because Israel has rejected the Messiah.
3. The purpose of our gifts – vv. 30-31 – 12:1-4
a) God has gifted us for the same calling that He gifted Israel
b) We are to show His mercy and who He is to all the lost world so that they might know Him.

C. Some Questions for God
1. But God!
a) When you chose Abraham to be the father of a special people, didn’t you know that he would be weak in faith himself?
b) Didn’t you know that he would step aside from his high calling and go down to Egypt, where he would be willing even to sacrifice the honor of his wife to save his own skin?
c) “Yes,” says God, “I knew that. But I called him anyway, and my gifts to him and my calling of him were irrevocable.”
2. But God!
a) Surely you knew that the people who came along in the line of Abraham would be unfaithful.
b) You gave them the law through Moses. But even Moses, great as he was, dishonored you by taking your glory to himself.
c) You even kept him from entering the Promised Land as a result.
d) Did you really take all that into account when you called the Jews to be a special people?
e) “Yes, “ God replies, “I knew what Moses would do. But my gifts and my call are irrevocable.”
3. But God!
a) What about David?
b) David committed adultery with Bathsheba and even had her husband, Uriah, killed to escape detection.
c) Certainly, if you had known what David would be like, you would have done things differently.
d) Did you really consider David’s sin when you set your electing love upon this people?
e) “Yes,” God answers, “I did, and my call is irrevocable.”
4. But God!
a) What about the kings who followed David?
b) And the people who copied the immorality of those kings?
c) How could you have set upon such people an eternal love, expressed in an irrevocable covenant?
d) “Your ways are not my ways,” says God. “I knew the people would be wicked. Everyone is wicked. ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.’ I wrote that, remember. Still I have fixed my covenant love upon these people, and my call is irrevocable. My will for them has not changed.”
5. But God!
a) Surely your call must change in light of the way these people treated Jesus Christ.
b) Jesus was loving and compassionate.
c) His greatest offense was to be holy and to speak the truth.
d) Yet they rejected him.
e) They secured his execution on a cross between two thieves.
f) If you had foreseen that, you would never have made the promises you did.
g) Surely you are going to cast them off forever!
h) “No,” God replies. “I know the end from the beginning. I knew how it would all turn out. Yet, in spite of what they did, my gifts and calling of them are irrevocable!”

III. God’s Faithfulness
How does this passage affect Gentiles? How does it affect you and me? Paul based his conclusions on the character of God so His gifts to you and his calling of you are irrevocable. You can see this at work clearly in God’s faithfulness to His people. In what ways is God faithful?

A. God is faithful in preserving his people. (Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20)
1. To put it in the language we have been using: The followers of Jesus Christ will be faithful to him because he is faithful to them.
a) God said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5; cf. Deut. 31:6).
b) Jesus told his disciples, “Surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
2. There are 3 New Testament texts that, more than any others, teach the preserving of the saints.
a) John 6:37 40: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away… And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
b) John 10:27 30: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
c) Philippians 1:6. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
d) These texts all assure us that the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.

B. God is faithful in disciplining his people. (Hebrews 12:6; Philippians 4:19)
1. God has called us to be like Jesus Christ, which means that he will do whatever is necessary to conform us to that image.
a) Instruction? Encouragement? Of course. But also discipline.
b) The Bible says, “The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews 12:6).
2. Harry Ironside tells of something that happened early in his ministry.
a) He had been preaching in Fresno, California, and the day came, surprisingly to him, when he was entirely out of money.
(1) He had to check out of his hotel, leaving his suitcase at a drugstore to be picked up later.
(2) That evening, hungry, having had no supper, he settled himself under a tree on the lawn of the courthouse for the night.
(3) He thought of Philippians 4:19, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
(4) He complained. Why doesn’t God do it, then? Why isn’t he faithful to his promise?
b) As Ironside prayed that night, God brought to his mind things about which he had grown careless, and in his meditation God brought him to a spiritual awakening.
(1) And, of course, God did provide for his needs.
(2) Old friends appeared to provide housing.
(3) The meetings went well, and at the end the people took up a collection that helped him get home.
(4) But here is the interesting thing.
c) As he left Fresno, Ironside stopped by the post office, where he found a letter from his father.
(1) He wasn’t expecting it, so it surprised him. In it his father had written, “God spoke to me through Philippians 4:19 today. He has promised to supply all our need. Some day he may see I need a starving, and if he does, he will supply that.”
(2) Ironside saw then that God had been putting him through a time of deprivation for discipline, to bring him closer to himself.
3. God is faithful in what he withholds no less than in what he gives: He is faithful in sending sorrow as well as in giving joy.
a) God never allows affliction without a reason, because He is always faithful in preserving His people.

C. God is faithful in glorifying his people. (Romans 8:29-30)
1. This truth takes us back to Romans 8:verses 29 and 30: “For those God fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
2. Just as the Jews are not cast off, you will not be cast off, either.
3. You have been foreknown by God, predestined, called, and justified, and you can know that you will certainly be glorified as well.

D. Rock of Ages
1. Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher who lived in Ephesus 2,600 years ago.
a) He said, “It is impossible to step into the same river twice.”
b) He meant that life is in a state of constant change.
c) You can step into a river once, step out, and then step in a second time.
d) But, by the time you have stepped back in the water has flowed on and the river is no longer the same.
e) All of life seems like that – everything is changing all the time.
f) “But if that is so,” Heraclitus asked, “how is it that things are not in a state of constant chaos?”
g) He answered that life is not chaos because the change we see is an ordered change and the reason it is ordered and not random is that the mind, reason, or order of God stands behind it.
2. What Heraclitus meant was that God never changes!
a) “You can’t step into the same river twice,” said Heraclitus.
b) But you can anchor your boat to the faithfulness of God Almighty.
c) You can plant your feet on the Rock that nothing in heaven or earth will ever shake.
d) When you do, you will find that God is never changes!
e) You will never find Him withdrawing His gifts because of some failure in your life.
f) You will never find Him changing his calling of you, once you have come to Jesus Christ.
g) “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”