“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.” (Romans 11:22)
Right at the heart of a discourse on the subject of God’s “right” to use both Jew and Gentile to accomplish his will, Paul again reminds the people of God about their calling to actually be the people of God.
Being the beneficiary of God’s goodness has its benefit, no doubt or discounting that – it grafts us into the body of God’s elect! But this election by grace also carries with it a responsibility to live by grace…which is a little different from the way many people in the religious world tend to view grace when it comes to our initial start in the race of faith and our finishing the course (Titus 2:11-12, 2 Timothy 4:6-8).
With that consideration in mind, it is important to see that being the elect of God has nothing to do with being once saved always saved, for in the middle of his discussion of the Jewish people’s election (or as one might say, “God’s original elect” – barring individual examples like Abel, Enoch and Noah, of course), Paul warns the gentile members of the church at Rome that if they were to forsake their calling, and ultimately the goodness/grace of God, then the same pruning knife that removed the original branches would also remove the branches that had been grafted in. And one does not have to be a professional arborist to get that picture.
We should never forget about the power of God’s grace to begin and finish our salvation. I know Paul, a Jew and the chief of sinners, refused to let that point slip by him as he considered his own people in the flesh. But neither should we forget about the destructive power of sin and the consequences of certain behaviors as we consider our self and our own people in the spirit. I know this a much-needed daily lesson for me.