Title: God the Master Gardener
Focus: In this passage Paul shows us that we are not a separate or new people of God, but are a continuation of his people. That means that Old Testament history is also our history. This history teaches us two things about personal responsiblity. It teaches us humility, because being God’s people is a matter of God’s choice and invitation and not our inherent goodness. It also teaches us the need for humble faith in a God who forgives and allows us to stand.
Function: To get the hearers to understand their place in God’s plan so they can respond to God with a humble heart.
Text: Rom 11:11-24
Intro: 1. As a prepared this sermon, thought about trees a. My grandmother had huge 100 yr old cottonwoods b. Offered shade, cooled the breeze down c. Many good times in the shade of cottonwood 2. In this morning’s text, Paul speaks of another type of tree God working with 3. He has been working on this tree for thousands of years 4. The tree is God’s people a. When Israel rejected God, God not start with new tree b. Replacement theology is not taught in Bible (v.11-16) c. Paul moves from Israel to our place in the tree I. We have been grafted into the tree (v.16-18) A. We were grafted into what what already there 1. Text not say God rejected the whole tree 2. It doesn’t say God started with a new tree B. I’m not a green thumb 1. But I remember talking about tree grafts in school a. Graft a cultivated branch onto a regular tree b. Fruit branch continue to produce fruit 2. Paul’s analogy seems to be backwards a. You don’t graft wild branch on cultivated tree b. If you did do this, you wouldn’t expect fruit c. (v.24) Paul says this contrary to nature 3. Paul’s point? a. We not put self in tree, gardener did - Bible sometimes calls this adoption b. We bear fruit, not because of inherent goodness - We were a “wild” branch - The root supports us, not vice-versa c. What is the root, trunk, etc? - Root = Partriarchs - Tree = Israel - Branches = God’s people currently 4. We now share in a rich root (rich heritage) C. ILL: Like becoming a U.S. citizen 1. Mom had to do this a. Spent long hours studying & took test b. Probably knew more about American than natural ones 2. When sworn in, she became an American Citizen 3. We asked her why she not teach more Korean a. We Americans, so she raised us American b. ILL: New York Archaeology - Lots of Americanna with immigrants - They truly became Americans (melting pot) 4. She did the same thing a. American history is her history too b. She was “grafted” into America D. Same for us as Christians 1. Can see this in the very name “Christian” a. Greek - Christianos - “Of the party of Christ” b. Christos - “Annointed one” c. Hebrew - “Messiah” d. Christianos = “Messianic Congregation” 2. We grafted in - and now share Israel’s Messianic hope 3. Israel’s heritage is our heritage 4. We not a new people, but a continuation of people of God a. Need to know history b. Not know history, doomed to repeat it Paul applies this history to us with 2 lessons on personal responsiblity II. Personal Responsiblity - Humilty A. This passage tells us we have good reason to be humble B. Reasons for humility 1. We are not grafted in due to inherent goodness or ability a. We “were” a wild olive tree b. We were grafted in “contrary to nature” c. Ability to be fruitful due to root, not us, the branch 2. Branches were not broken off to make room for us a. Not as if we better, so we replaced other branches b. They broken off for unbelief - Greek - “apistis” means unbelief, or unfaithful - Israel believed, but were unfaithful/untrusting 3. When Israel exalted self, God became opposed to them a. God opposed to proud, grace to humble - Jas 4:6 b. Mt 5:3 - Blessed poor in Spirit - Theirs is the kingdom c. Mk 10 - Wanted to sit on left and right - Had to undergo a baptism & drink cup - Phil 2 - Humiliation and Exaltation of Christ d. Mk 10:43 - Greatest is the least in the kingdom e. Way into kingdom narrow? It short too, can only get in by kneeling 4. Human arrogance is repulsive C. ILL: Little Billy at the parade - Couldn’t see over tall people 1. Father put him on shoulders - now he taller than everyone 2. Better view - started to get arrogant to others and Dad 3. I can see way better than you Daddy 4. He forget he sitting on someone else’s shoulders D. We sit on shoulders of others 1. Patriarchs, Israel, and ultimately God 2. We stand not on own merit, but on God’s 3. Response - Humility 4. I convinced humiliy a prerequisite for next point II. Personal Responsiblity - Faith A. Faith and humility go hand in hand 1. When humility goes, faith soon follows 2. Israel became prideful and arrogant a. Arrogant about possession of the Temple b. Arrogant about possession of Torah c. Believed they inherently better than others 3. Pride led to lack of trust in God - Only paid God lip service 4. Pride will eventually cancel out faith B. So a call for humility is also a call for faith 1. Israel was nether faithful nor humble a. God cut off the natural branches (Israel) b. If God cut off natural, he can cut off unatural c. We stand by our faith, not inherent goodness 2. (v.22-24) - God has 2 sides a. Severity - to those who fell - How did they fall? - Pride goes before the fall b. Kindness for - Those who continue in his kindness 3. Unexpected use of words a. Expect - “if you continue in faith” or “obedience” b. Paul says HIS kindness (grace, goodness) c. Power of salvation is in God’s work not ours 4. Usually wind up in a discussion of grace v.s. works a. If have to have faithfulness, how can it be grace? b. How can grace be grace if something required of us? C. ILL: Like a party 1. Used to have birthday parties - Involved invitations 2. Some places can’t get in without an invitation 3. I invited freinds, why? Inherent goodness? No, chose to 4. Showing up is meaningless without an invitation D. Faith is meaningless without God’s invitation 1. God has invited us to his tree 2. If we will respond in humble trust, will graft us into his tree Concl: 1. This morning’s lesson in two words - Humility and Faithfulness 2. Need to be faithful, but cannot without humility a. ILL: Like Robert, had a huge 15 foot long picnic table b. To much pride to ask for help, pulled out back c. Bedridden for days 3. Like the Cheryl, who addicted to alcohol a. Wouldn’t ask for help, kept it secret b. Thought could stop on his own 4. Andy, made good life for self. Was proud. What need God for? a. Couldn’t see need for savior b. What blinded him to his need? Pride 5. This world is a sinking ship a. Satan, the captain says - help self to all you want b. Get comfortable in ship, it will pull you down, and that will be it c. Jesus has provided a lifeboat, and calls you to come in d. Can get in lifeboat, but have to come in kneeling - way is narrow and is narrow and low 6. Get in, trust him a. Baptism b. If baptize, confess sin in humility. Amazed at power of confession