SPOKEN PRAYER: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
What Does "All Israel will be saved" Mean?
by Dave Mann
Romans 11 is a favorite chapter for those who hold to the teaching that God has predestined who will be saved. Obviously, a topic such as the tension between predestination and human free will cannot be settled in a short devotional writing. Perhaps the question in the title of this piece should be revised to: What does “Israel” mean? This word actually has multiple meanings.
The historic patriarch, the son of Abraham
The descendants who trace their lineage to the historic patriarch
The biblical political nation comprised largely of those who are descendants of the patriarch
All who believe in the promises of God, i.e., those who are adopted into the people of God by faith in Jesus Christ
I believe that this passage is best interpreted when we understand “Israel” to mean all to whom the Holy Spirit has given the gift of faith in Jesus, no matter what their ethnicity. The main point of this passage is that all of us – Jew, Gentile, 1st World, 3rd World, rich, poor, educated, illiterate, et al. – are disobedient to God. We are all rebels. None of us is ushered into the kingdom of God based on our genetics. None of us merit life eternal because we are naturally good people. There is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:1). When we sing God’s praises in heaven, we will be celebrating the mercy of God. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Everyone who gathers around the throne – from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages (Revelation 7:9-10) – will glorify God for his grace.
Despite the ability of the religious people to parrot the doctrines of grace, we still tend to harbor deep in our subconscious the belief that good people go to heaven. But our own goodness is not the basis for our entry ticket. It is faith in the mercy of God. Only the undeserving will enter the pearly gates – the undeserving who know that they are such and therefore must throw themselves before the mercy of God. The undeserving, the unworthy, the disobedient – all who have received the gift of faith from the Holy Spirit – will fall down with the four living creatures and the elders and worship the only One who is worthy (Revelation 5:11-14). Let’s start practicing even now doing just that.
O Holy Spirit, save me from believing that I am one of the few obedient ones whom you are privileged to have in your kingdom. No, Lord, do not let me bow before my own presumed righteousness. By your grace, give me eyes to see my heart as you see it – disobedient and unholy. Thank you for the gift of faith. By your mercy, allow me to be part of that full and complete throng who worship the only One who is worthy, even Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.