gdemetz, the Book of Romans is replete with references to salvation by grace alone. It would be a good place for you to start in your understanding.
I love the book of Romans. I have detailed a part of the book that deals with faith and works. I will post that here for all to see how I interpret the passages. Maybe you can do the same so we can compare how we read scripture. But I will not hold my breath waiting.
A Commentary on Romans 10 and 11
One of the ways some people view scripture is to take the promises given to the Jews and give them to the Christian Church. This is called Replacement Theology. This commentary opposes this view of scripture.
This Commentary is my opinion and each of us can follow our own heart and follow our own interpretation. Now I believe that what Paul wrote was inspired by God, every word of it. So when I say Paul wrote I actually mean the Spirit of God wrote through Paul. I do not believe that these words need to be looked at through some ancient word filter. I think the Words are timeless just like God. The book of Romans was written for; Rom 1:7 “To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:” So for our purposes he is writing this for the believing Christian.
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Here Paul is describing his desire to have his fellow Jews come to the knowledge of Christ so they may worship God in the fullness of Christ and the Holy Ghost. The Jews still have a zeal for God but Paul wishes them to obtain the mercy and love of Christ that Paul knows. Notice that Israel refers to Jews and no one else. Notice that the word saved is separate from a zeal for God. So one can believe in God yet not be “saved”. Saved is a formal term that applies to knowledge of Christ and accepting Him by faith. The Jews can still believe in Christ but they know Him by Yahweh. They are righteous in their knowledge of Yahweh but not righteous by their knowledge of Christ. Yet they are still righteous and still faithful to God. In their own knowledge and own belief.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Here Paul is saying that the law of righteousness is now ended for all those who believe in Christ. Notice he does not say the law is ended.
5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Here we see a difference between faith and the law. Moses taught the law and the Jews were to live by the law. But with the knowledge of Christ then faith leads to being saved. Notice it does not say that the Jews following the law are damned. It does indicate that the Jews who follow the law will be ashamed at some time for missing the message. And of course it states that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. And what are the names of the Lord? Yahweh, Redeemer (Job 19:25), Seed of the Woman (Gen 3:15), Messiah (Dan 9:25), He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (Rev 2:1), The Creator (Ecc 12 :1), and of course many others. Faith in God and knowledge of Jesus are two different things. Faith and knowledge of Jesus leads to confession and then being saved. Faith in God alone is righteousness.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
People will be called to preach the Gospel. And they will put on the armor of God which includes the feet which are shod with the Gospel of peace (Eph 6:15). This is great but it implies a question. What is to happen to those who do not hear the Gospel? They may have faith but no knowledge, does their faith keep them from being grouped with nonbelievers? I think it does. Knowledge or the lack of knowledge does not save. It is faith that saves. To call upon the Creator is to call Christ. When Paul said that the Greeks worshipped Christ as the unknown God was he lying to them or did he in fact declare the faith of the Greeks valid? I think he was in support of their quest to know God. So did the Greeks worship Christ without knowledge?
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias (Isaiah) saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20 But 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.
21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
Here Paul is saying that some will receive the report (knowledge) and some will not. Some will take the knowledge of Christ and believe, then confess and then be saved. But others will not see the knowledge as truth so they will stay with their zeal for the God of Abraham. They will remain in the law of Moses. They will reject the knowledge even after being told by Moses they would suffer jealousy from a foolish nation. It was the lack of faith that made God angry. It was idol worship that made God angry. Yet in the time of Christ it was the religious Jews who rejected the knowledge of Christ. So did God harden their hearts so they would not see the truth of the knowledge of Christ? Was this a judgment on earth due to their fathers who worshipped idols? I can not say but the words of Moses seem like a judgment. (Deu 32:21) But the Jews were punished because they were not ready for the Messiah when He came. This seems to me to indicate that the Jews were not hardened by God but made them self hardened with self righteousness.
Romans 11 (King James Version)
1 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.
2 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,
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 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.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Here Paul is setting the stage for what follows. He is describing a time in which Israel was worshipping idols and killing its prophets. So faith in the true God fell to the side and the world for that moment held Israel. But God had a remnant of seven thousand which would be the seed for the future. The OT is full of times in which Israel followed God and other times in which they did not. But God always had a plan to save Israel. I believe this is true today and was true when Paul was writing the Book of Romans. The first sentence in this section tells us that God has not cast away Israel. These verses that follow in Romans are the details of that plan to save the Jews (Israel).
6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
This does not say that works were ended for Israel. I think what it is saying is that some Jews came to Christ and through grace were saved and no longer lived in works. But those who were not elected were blinded and remain under works. They were blinded to the Gospel so they would not be held accountable. Those that through faith believed in the God of Abraham were and are still part of the olive tree. This tree of faith that has its roots with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The olive tree is the faithful Jews.
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
12 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 fulness?
Here it continues with the theme that the Jews have been blocked from understanding. In verse 11 it asks the question. “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” And the answer is “God forbid” Then it continues describing the fall of the Jews and how that opens up an avenue for the Gentiles. So the Gospel was given to the Gentiles with all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But verse 12 ends by saying that the Jews obtained a fulness because of the opportunity given to the Gentiles. A fulness is not being broken off the tree.
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.
15 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?
16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Obviously Paul would prefer to have the Jews come to Christ and not be blinded; in verse 14 I think this is clear. Now in verse 15 it asks a question, it does not say the Jews are cast away from the tree of faith but cast away in the sense that they would not accept the Gospel. This nonbelief in the Gospel is what allowed the “reconciling of the world”. The second part of verse 15 asks what will be the result if they are brought back, the obvious answer that they are saved from spiritual death. But how can this be done? By their blindness. They are brought back to the tree of faith by their faith in God not the Gospel. When this tree is viewed as a tree of faith then the root, first fruits, the lump, and branches are Holy. Some by the Gospel and some by faith in the God of Abraham. Remember that the root was there before Christ came to the earth as man.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
This is a warning by God not to get to full of ourselves. We (Gentiles) are only here because God allowed us to be grafted in. Remember we are not a new tree. The root is still the faithful Fathers. It is the Jewish tree of faith that we are attached to. The fallen branches are those who do not believe in God or they worship idols. But God says that if they turn that around they will be reattached. We are not to boast against the natural branches. But replacement theology is the ultimate boast, it replaces Israel. It takes away the tree, the root, the history and makes the olive tree the Church.
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
Now Paul is announcing in clear terms that a mystery is being revealed so pay attention. He also tells us who will not get the message. Those who consider themselves wise and are full of conceits. The message is that the blindness on Israel will stay until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. So in verse 7 and again here in verse 25 the blindness is highlighted. I would suspect that this is important. Now when is the fullness of the Gentiles over? See Luke 21:24, it is over when Gentiles no longer walk around Jerusalem. This obviously means that the blindness continues to this day. Notice that the term Israel is being used for the blinded Jews (in part). So the term Israel is for the elect and the blinded Jews.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
All Israel will be saved is a bold statement. I have to assume it has to do with the prior verses and the blindness cast on them. If they did not know better then they could be saved is the message. Obviously taking away their sins, which is Christ choice clears the way for all of them to be saved. This is not the Church, the reference to Jacob is clear and Israel is Israel. But how can the Deliverer save them if they are blind to the Deliverer? That mystery is revealed.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
So the blindness of the Gospel makes the Jews (they) disagree with “your” Church. But they are to be loved because of the special relationship He has with them. To make sure that there is no misunderstanding Paul says that the promises (gifts) and the “calling” will not be taken away.
30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
We obtained mercy because the Jews rejected the Gospel. This defines the unbelief as rejection of the Gospel. Scripture tells us that we obtain mercy when we give it to others. It is not too much to ask that we give mercy to blind Jews concerning the Gospel. It seems that the act somehow in God’s mind allows the Jews to obtain mercy. The Church acts as a conduit to the Deliverer so that they can be saved, they can have their sins taken away. This allows the Jews to have their sins taken away even though they don’t have a Temple and are not sacrificing animals. But we read that the Temple will be rebuilt and the sacrifices will resume. I suspect that when the Church is raptured the Temple will be standing. Without the Church the conduit is removed so the Jews will have to follow their historical rites. This view explains the restarting of the sacrifices.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
The blindness to the Gospel causes unbelief in the Gospel. But through the Church asking for mercy for the Jews they obtain mercy and have their sins taken away by Christ the Deliverer. The Bible has a few examples of a third party acting as a bridge of faith to another. A good one is Dan 9.
Verse 33 tells us that we will not know the depth of God’s wisdom concerning this matter. So I just accept it that all Jews will receive mercy. At least the ones still on the olive tree that do not have belief in the Gospel but a belief in God.