“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” ~ Rom 11:29
A person can still operate in the gifts and callings of God without repentance from sin. How often have you heard this spoken to explain Romans 11:29? Does this make sense to you? It never did to me.
How can a believer live in sin, yet be able to operate as though they weren't? Why would God allow this? According to His Word, He wouldn't! See Ephesians 4.
The Gifts of the Spirit?
When we think of gifts in the Bible, we often think of 1 Corinthians 12:8-10:
“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:”
Is this what Paul was referring to while speaking to the Gentile believers in Rome? If we look at the context, we get a better understanding of the message Paul was delivering.
The Olive Tree
Paul was talking to the church about being considerate of the Jews. The Gentiles thought the Jews lost out on salvation because of their rejection of Jesus. Yet God wanted to give an incentive to the Jews to turn Christ. He did not want them lost.
“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” ~Romans 11:11
Paul reminded the gathering at Rome that it is because of them that salvation came. He used the olive tree to show this point. They are the natural branches. God grafted the Gentiles into the tree. Now they could partake of the fruit, the results of Christ's sacrifice as well.
The Gifts of God
So what were the gifts of which Paul spoke? The context would be an open door for the grace of God to the Jews if they accepted Christ as Savior. Where would gifts of the spirit come in? The gifts are not the focus here as Paul is not addressing the issue of people walking in sin.
The gifts of God have to do with what the work of Christ provided for humanity. Paul already mentioned some in earlier chapters:
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~ Romans 6:23
“For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)” ~ Romans 5:17
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” ~ Ephesians 2:8
As you can see, the gifts of God are righteousness, salvation, and eternal life. The righteousness of Christ is key to salvation. Salvation means one is saved from the penalty of sin. That penalty is eternal separation from God, which is the second death. Eternal life is the result of salvation.
The Calling of God
It is easy to believe that the calling of God relates to ministry:
“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:20
Is every man called to the ministry? Everyone's called to the ministry of reconciliation. But we know most people are thinking of the pulpit. The Bible does reference the call to preach, teach, etc. But there is an even higher calling. It is the highest calling of all.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:14
What is the calling to which Paul is referring? It is the reason Christ died for humanity. The call is to salvation and reconciliation!
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” ~ 2 Timothy 1:9
The Gift Without Repentance
The Gentile nations did nothing to merit God's gift of salvation. The Gentiles did not consider repentance before being offered redemption. They worshiped false gods before the gospel came. It was God's plan to include all people; Jews and Gentiles alike. So the gifts of salvation, righteousness, and eternal life, which is through Christ Jesus, is without repentance. And so is the calling of God, which is reconciliation.
But now here's the rub. The repentance being spoken of is not man's repentance, but God's! Let me explain. Despite all God did for Israel, they rebelled, even to the point of offering up Christ. Yet God still held out His staff, as King Ahasuerus did to Esther in Esther 8:4.
God holds it out to them and everyone else to this day.
Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. ~ Romans 11:31-32
This explanation made so much more sense to me. God turned from Israel because of their unrighteousness. Yet He will not repent for having called them as a nation and offering them the gift of salvation. As He mercifully grafted the Gentiles in, so they continue to have a way in as do we, through Christ.
I pray this post is helpful to you. Thank you for visiting!