And if by grace - And let this very remnant of pious Jews, who have believed in Christ Jesus, know that they are brought in, precisely in the same way as God has brought in the Gentiles; the one having no more worthiness to plead than the other; both being brought in, and continued in by God's free grace, and not by any observance of the Mosaic law.
And this is done according to the election of grace, or the rule of choosing any persons to be the people of God upon the footing of grace; which takes in all that believe in his Son Jesus Christ: some of the Jewish people did so believe; therefore those believing Jews are a remnant according to the election of grace. They are saved in that way in which alone God will save mankind.
And if by grace - Then let these very persons remember, that their election and interest in the covenant of God has no connection with their old Jewish works; for were it of works, grace would lose its proper nature, and cease to be what it is - a free undeserved gift.
But if it be of works - On the other hand, could it be made to appear that they are invested in these privileges of the kingdom of Christ only by the observance of the law of Moses, then Grace would be quite set aside; and if it were not, work, or the merit of obedience, would lose its proper nature, which excludes favor and free gift. But it is not, and cannot be, of Works; for those very Jews who now believe, and are happy in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, are so according to the election of grace, which does not mean a particular act of God's sovereignty, which has singled out some of the Jews who deserved to have been cast off as well as the rest; but it is that general scheme of grace, according to which God purposed to take into his Church and kingdom any, among either Jews or Gentiles, who should believe on Christ. And the remnant here mentioned were not selected from their countrymen by such a sovereign act of God's grace as might have taken in the whole if it had so pleased; but they were admitted into and received the privileges of the Messiah's kingdom, because they believed on the Lord Jesus, and received him as their only Savior; and thus came into that scheme of election which God had appointed. And we may observe, farther, that out of this election they as well as the others would have been excluded, had they like the rest remained in unbelief; and into this election of grace all the Jews, to a man, notwithstanding they were all sinners, would have been taken, had they believed in Christ Jesus. This is the true notion of the election of grace. See Taylor.
And if grace - If the fact that any are reserved be by grace, or favor, then it cannot be as a reward of merit. Paul thus takes occasion incidentally to combat a favorite notion of the Jews, that we are justified by obedience to the Law. He reminds them that in the time of Elijah it was because God had reserved them; that the same was the case now; and therefore their doctrine of merit could not be true; see Romans 4:4-5; Galatians 5:4; Ephesians 2:8-9.
Otherwise grace - If people are justified by their works, it could not be a matter of favor, but was a debt. If it could be that the doctrine of justification by grace could be held and yet at the same time that the Jewish doctrine of merit was true, then it would follow that grace had changed its nature, or was a different thing from what the word properly signified. The idea of being saved by merit contradicts the very idea of grace. If a man owes me a debt, and pays it, it cannot be said to be done by favor, or by grace. I have a claim on him for it, and there is no favor in his paying his just dues.
But if it be of works - “Works” here mean conformity to the Law; and to be saved by works would be to be saved by such conformity as the meritorious cause. Of course there could be no grace or favor in giving what was due: if there was favor, or grace, then works would lose their essential characteristic, and cease to be the meritorious cause of procuring the blessings. What is paid as a debt is not conferred as a favor.
And from this it follows that salvation cannot be partly by grace and partly by works. It is not because people can advance any claims to the favor of God; but from his mere unmerited grace. He that is not willing to obtain eternal life in that way, cannot obtain it at all. The doctrines of election, and of salvation by mere grace, cannot be more explicitly stated than they are in this passage.
The gospel message is far from being opposed to true knowledge and intellectual attainments. It is itself true science, true intellectual knowledge. True wisdom is infinitely above the comprehension of the worldly wise. The hidden wisdom, which is Christ formed within, the hope of glory, is a wisdom high as heaven. The deep principles of godliness are sublime and eternal. A Christian experience alone can help us to understand this problem, and obtain the treasures of knowledge which have been hidden in the counsels of God, but are now made known to all who have a vital connection with Christ. All who will may know of the doctrine (The Review and Herald, July 18, 1899). 6BC 1114.1
4, 5, 11 (Romans 8:29, 30; 1 Peter 1:2). God's Predestination—The Father sets His love upon His elect people who live in the midst of men. These are the people whom Christ has redeemed by the price of His own blood; and because they respond to the drawing of Christ, through the sovereign mercy of God, they are elected to be saved as His obedient children. Upon them is manifested the free grace of God, the love wherewith He hath loved them. Everyone who will humble himself as a little child, who will receive and obey the Word of God with a child's simplicity, will be among the elect of God.... 6BC 1114.3Read in context »
The prophet Isaiah, looking down through the centuries and witnessing the rejection of prophet after prophet and finally of the Son of God, was inspired to write concerning the acceptance of the Redeemer by those who had never before been numbered among the children of Israel. Referring to this prophecy, Paul declares: “Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me. But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” AA 375.1
Even though Israel rejected His Son, God did not reject them. Listen to Paul as he continues the argument: “I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” AA 375.2
Israel had stumbled and fallen, but this did not make it impossible for them to rise again. In answer to the question, “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” the apostle replies: “God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” AA 375.3Read in context »