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 graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. (24) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?Romans 11:22-24
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God”
Paul is describing here the response of God that flows out of His nature. Those who reject Christ and choose to follow their own way, in this context describing the unbelieving jews, would be dealt with in God’s “severity”. This is speaking of the righteous judgement and wrath of God on the unbelieving. To those who believe, in this context the gentiles to which Paul is writing as part of the local body of believers in Rome, God’s goodness in salvation is expressed. God’s response is to the faith of the individual. Those who are truly regenerate are saved. Those who reject, if they were to repent and believe, will be graffed back in to the tree. All who reject, jew and gentile, will endure the severity of the Lord.
These two traits seem at first glance to be incompatible. God is able to be holy and loving at the same time. He is gracious and just. He deals with severity and goodness. These are not incompatible for an infinite being.
The most obvious and necessary response to this passage is for both groups- the unbelieving and the believing. We must choose to respond understanding the severity of God. If you don’t know Christ, let this cause you to pause and consider the state of your soul, and your eternal destiny. If you know Christ as Savior, may it cause you to ramp up your evangelistic activity, for “how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Today, I’m going to ask God to give me an opportunity to share the gospel!