Romans 11:16-21

The Nurseryman's Choice!

The Nurseryman's Choice! Rom. 11:16-22, 1/21/01 - RealAudio version

Read Rom. 11:16-22

16, For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17, And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19, You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20, Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21, For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22, Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.

illus: Explain the grafting Process... I have in my hands two sections of young tree branches to illustrate the grafting process. The bottom branch represents the root stock and the upper branch represents the scion stock or the "unnatural" branch. Grafting techniques have been used for many years for a number of reasons. In modern times, grafting is used for bringing the vegetative and fruit bearing strengths of various fruit trees together. In New England, most of our apple trees are grafted trees, that take advantage of winter hardy root systems. Nursery workers will graft on to these root stocks a number unnatural branches that produce apples that would normally not grow this far North, or they graft on dwarf varieties. Most of the Tea Roses that the ladies (and some men) have in their garden are grafted Rose bushes. These are just a few examples of modern grafting. The grafting process produces some wonderful results that could not be produced any other way. However, the union of the two types never results in removal of the distinction between the two originals. The root stock and the unnatural graft never become genetically the same. The distinction, even to the point of the graft joint, always remains. Yet, the unnatural stock certainly benefits from the root stock as it draws from it's resource to survive, to grow and to produce fruit.

This morning as we approach Romans 11:16-22, Paul uses the analogy of grafting to explain what God has done with National Israel during the Church Age. Paul explains that the "setting aside" of National Israel is like a nurse man cutting off natural branches to allow for the grafting in of unnatural branches. The unnatural branch is the Church! This passage with the illustration of the grafting, makes it Theologically clear that Israel and the Church are not the same. They have Clear distinctions, even though the Church is drawing from and benefiting from the blessings of God's chosen people, Israel. This Dispensational distinction is not fabricated by the student of God's Word, but rather God's Word demands the dispensational distinction between the Nation of Israel and the Church in God's plan.

Rom. 11:16... "and if the root is holy, so are the branches."

The root here refers to the Patriarchs, the ones with whom God originally established His Covenants. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob... These men were:

1. Called,

2. Consecrated.

God did the choosing and the calling. We should not understand the phase "root is holy" to mean that National Israel, beginning with the Patriarchs lived a perfectly Holy life. Holy can also mean set apart for a purpose or consecrated. Certainly God provides through faith a way for men to become holy. However, in this passage, set apart probably refers to being set apart for Blessing. The covenant blessings flowed through the roots, beginning with Abraham and continued to flow out to the branches in the believing lineage of Abraham. Now in the Church age, the blessings of "Salvation" (see v. 11) is flowing to the Gentiles that are grafted in through the church. v. 18 "and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree."

Rom. 11:16... "and if the root is holy, so are the branches."

illus: What do roots do? They Support! They Supply!

illus: the vision of the Tree in Dan. 4.

The Jewish lineage grew out from the Roots/Patriarchs. The believing lineage are the branches. They also were Consecrated for the Lord. They were the Lord's people with the Lord's privileges and blessings. Out of this lineage came Messiah (Gen. 12:3 "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed"). Concerning the Salvation of mankind, the Jewish nation, supports all others, as a root system supports the branches. Certainly, present day Jews may individual come to Christ and become part of the Body of Christ, but when the 70th week of Daniel begins to unfold, God will once again be using Israel to preach salvation through Messiah (see Rev. 7:4-8, 144,000 Jewish evangelist/servants of God).

Now in v. 17, Paul begins to use as an analogy, Picturing:

1. a Cultivate Olive tree,
2. a Wild Olive tree,
3. and an implied Nurseryman (Who Must be the Lord in the Context).

Side note: Rom. 9, gave us the picture of God as the Potter, now in Rom. 11 we see God as the Nurseryman. In both analogies, God has absolute power and privilege over the use and destiny of man. He is the possessor and creator of all men. Some will reject this interpretation, but those individuals need to honestly ask themselves if they have done justice to God's Word and God's character as described by God Himself! Paul himself admits that these truths are "past finding out" (Rom. 11:33). However, let us not question what God has said about Himself and His plans for mankind.

17, And if some of the branches were broken off,

The context is so clear, no one should miss this! The "some branches broken off" represent Present Israel being set aside by God. Not all the branches are broken off. Remember, Rom. 11:5... there's always a remnant... Always.

In this analogy of God as the Nurseryman, why is it necessary for Him to break off branches?

illus: In Palestine, Olive trees can live for hundreds of years. As the tree ages, some of the branches stop producing fruit. At this point, historically, it was customary for the Nurseryman to cut off the unproductive branches and graft into their place Wild olive branches. The New branch would soon produce fruit, but it Would never be the same stock as the original. The wild branch draws life and nutrition from the cultivated olive tree: living off, benefiting from, but it is NEVER the Same as the Root Stock or the original branches.

Remember, in the context of Romans, the benefit of being grafted in to Israel's blessings is limited to Salvation. Some, who interpret the church as becoming "spiritual Israel" have ignored these important truths in God's Word. Others say that God's plan for salvation and spiritual ministry begins with Israel and then simple draws the church into a continued program for mankind in general, like some type of rolling snow ball effect that gathers more and more substance as it moves ahead. I believe these two views ignore the truths in God's Word that speak of the Clear Distinctions between Israel and the Church. The analogy of the wild branch (the church) being grafted into the cultivated olive tree (believing Israel with it's blessings), perfectly shows the Distinction of National Israel and the Church in God's program. The church DOES NOT partake of all the covenant promises given to National Israel (land forever, kingdom forever, lineage forever, throne forever). The church does however, receive wonderful blessings as a result of God blessing Israel through Her covenants.

17, "...and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them,"

"you, being a wild olive tree" points back to v. 13, "For I speak to you Gentiles." God had cultivated and selected for Himself (Called & Consecrated) a Special Root, a set apart tree called the Nation of Israel. But at an appointed time, He chose to cut off "some branches" (Present National Israel) and graft into the Cultivated Olive tree, a Wild "olive" [tree is not in the Greek, branch is better.]

What is the result of this special union we see in Rom. 11? The Church saints tap into and draw from God's special People Israel.

... v. 17, "and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree"

Again, this is a perfect Picture to show the Distinction of Israel from the Church...

1. We are partakers, Not the Source!
2. We are associated with, but never Identical to...
3. We are not the Natural branch, but unnatural...

illus: Even today, any plant or tree that is grafted, clearly shows the grafting point... they Never become the same Stock. A trained nurseryman can find the place of grafting.

illus: For years now, nurserymen have used a technique called "vegetative propagation to propagate new young trees from existing trees. They simply take cuttings from the original tree (stock tree) and place the cuttings in some type of soil medium until they produce roots of their own. This always produces a perfect clone of the parent tree. Now let's use this principle to show the permanent distinction in the church. A grafted tree may produce sprouts at the base of the tree, if they are vegetatively propagated, they will always produce stock identical to the parent or root stock. However, if you took a cutting from the grafted branch, is will reproduce itself after the it's parent stock or the unnatural stock it was cut from. By analogy, the church can never produce the nation of Israel. And Israel, in a way, has not produced the Church, it merely supplied what the Church needed to produce fruit for the moment. God's program for the Church and Israel have a vital connection, but they are not the same program.

1. The grafted wild branch can only have life by drawing from the natural.
2. The wild branch grafted can only produce fruit through the roots system.

You can imagine how some Christians in Paul's day may have been tempted to boast a little! Some may have thought, "Well we Gentiles are Special to God, because He's saving us now and has set the Jews aside." Paul gives a warning against this kind of Thinking in v. 18.

18, "do not boast against the branches..."

To understand this in the context of the day, would be to see the branches being boasted against, as being, the unbelieving Jews at that time. Paul's heart for the unbelieving Jews has already been expressed.
He wants to see them get saved! He'd trade places if he could! (Rom. 10:1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.")

Even today, Christians can haughtily say, "Those Jewish people, why don't they see it... why don't they Understand that Jesus is the Messiah?

Paul has told us why! It was God's plan and purpose to cut off some branches in order to usher in the church age, the Body of Christ. God did not allow National Israel to respond positively to the Messiah in this present age. If He did, there would be no church age, no grand moment for millions of Gentiles to come to Christ. We, the Church, would still be a wild branch connected to a wild branch, with no opportunity like the Church has today, to come to Christ for Salvation. These truths should humble all Christians in all ages. There's no room for boasting. Christian, your salvation is of God's doing from start to finish. And if you believe that you're saved because you're a bit more spiritual than your unsaved neighbor, if you think that you're saved because you, all on your own, started to hunger for God's truth more than your neighbor, or that you some how gained some superior spiritual insight that caused you to choose Christ, or anything else that puts "you" as the cause of your salvation... Quite bluntly, you don't understand God's Word. Start reading from Genesis to the book of Revelation and in between and you'll find that you owe your salvation to God in every single aspect. Don't boast for one second about how "you did it." No, rather with Humility and great Fear admit what God's Word says, "God did it, from start to finish, my salvation is all God's doing!"

... v. 18... "But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you."

Some reasons not to boast against the Present day Jews:

1. Their root stock supports you...(Gentiles)
2. They had to be broken off in order for you (Gentiles) to be saved.

That should produce:
1. Compassion for the Jews...
2. And an Incredible FEAR of God...

19, You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." 20, Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.

The very fact that God would choose to break off natural branches to graft in church age Gentiles should cause a Reverential Fear in all of us.

... Why couldn't the Jews Presently believe...
1. Not Elect, 2. Set aside purposefully, 3. Blinded, Hardened by God's choice...

Why Can Gentiles believe today? Because God elects, Calls, illum...
Then we are able to Have faith!

Now the warning reminds us that the God of absolute Sovereignty can:
...Open the eyes of whomever.... And set aside whomever...

21, For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.

Keep in mind, Paul is talking to Gentiles at the moment...
- He cannot be saying that saved Gentiles will be cut off...
- He is saying that unfaithful Gentiles will be cut off, just as God cut off unfaithful Israel.. Gentiles in General have nothing to boast of...

Recall the illustration of the Potter and the Clay that Paul used in Rom. 9 and compare it with the analogy of God being the Nurseryman in Rom. 11. In both illustrations, God uses His absolute Sovereignty just as He pleases. Clay vessels or branches are at the Mercy of the Creator and Possessor of all Created beings. The Nurseryman has decided to cut off National Israel at this present time and to graft in His program for the church to draw from the blessings of His Chosen People Israel. Let us never forget that the Nurseryman will once again bring new vitality to His Olive tree, Israel. The blessings He promised to the Roots, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will come to pass.


Theological land mark... See the Graft marks... The distinction between...

Point of Compassion of unsaved Israel... and Pray for the Remnant...

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