God's Goodness and Severity
A Sermon on Romans 11:18-22
do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (ESV)
In previous passages, Paul has explained that because of the Jews’ unbelief, the Gentiles were granted belief through Christ. In Romans 11:18-22, Paul now warns the Gentiles against any boasting because of their new standing and salvation. There is no place for pridefulness in a Christian’s life, and Paul warns that any such feelings would cause one to suffer. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the best corrective against pride is to know God, and to know the truth and character of God. Our greatest lack would be our lack of the knowledge of God. This lack would show in our doctrine, our view of sin, and would lead to a lack of fear of the Lord. In his closing, Dr. Lloyd-Jones also pauses to reflect on the goodness and severity of God in Romans 11:22. God is true in all of his characteristics and he is fully known in each of those character traits. You cannot say that God is good without acknowledging his severity. You cannot dwell only on the wrath of God without showing the love of God. The truest example of this is Christ on the cross. May we never boast in ourselves, but instead boast in Christ and all that he has done for us.
About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.