Grafted into God’s Family

Title: Grafted into God's Family

Bible Book: Romans 11 : 16-32

Author: Jerry N. Watts

Subject: God, Family of; Body of Christ; Grafted; Church



In the medical world the word graft is a common word. Physicians use grafts to repair damaged skin, they graft to repair a damaged heart, and literally they use graft to repair damage. In Botany, grafting is used for a number of reasons ranging from cosmetic to practical. That means everything from wanting the plants to look better to “better fruitfulness.”

In the Spiritual realm, when we are saved God literally grafts us into His family. And the reasons are varied. While it is true that our text teaches about Israel once again, as I have prayed & studied, I have sought to discover the message from our text which God has for each of us. Let us consider three thoughts which may help us clearly understand this process.

I. Remember the Principles

In his inspiration, Paul uses 3 pieces of imagery to help us understand how this process happens. He leans on a little history and common knowledge to make it clear. He uses a loaf, a root, and a tree. Watch how these fit together.

A. A Loaf

Most of us already have a mental picture of a loaf. Look at verse 16 and read about the ‘First fruits’ and the lump. As a general rule, the first fruits which were offered consisted of the first part of the harvest from the land. No one was to partake of the harvest until God was given His part. After the first fruits we given to Him, then He would bless the rest. Here, first fruits are followed by the word “lump” it gives the indication that it is talking about a loaf. The lump is what you get when you mix a solid with a liquid. This application of this one sentence could become our entire message. Just as when the harvest was gathered the first fruits had to be given, it is required that when a loaf was made, they were to pinch off the first part and give it to God. In both cases when God accepts His part, He then sanctifies the whole.

For just a moment apply this to your life. First fruits are His and not ours. If they are HIS, then all we do is “RETURN THEM.” It is only after we return to HIM what HE IS due, that He sanctifies what we have left. And it is only after we return His part that we have a right to control our part. This speaks directly to our life and our resources. If you are not giving Him the first fruits of your life, He is under no obligation to bless the rest of your life. In the matter of resources (that would be money), you and I have no spiritual right to take His money and designate it for our pet project (no matter how good it is). The Bible teaches us that the tithe is Holy to the Lord and should simply be brought into the store house and laid at His feet. It is not until we’ve done this that we actually give anything to Him. It begins with returning what is His.

B. A Root

The root is the most important part of any plant. It is the foundation, the strength, and the stability. Before anything can grow up, it better grow down. Remember this, the deeper the root—the sweeter the fruit. For the Jewish people, they considered Abraham their root. He was the one whom they saw made them righteous. Remember He believed God and was saved by his own faith. And it was the faith of Abraham which gave his descendants, the Jews, such assurance about their status before God. While Abraham is a root for the Jews, Jesus is THE root for all. Consider the implication of God himself being our root.

C. A Tree

All through the Bible the Olive tree is symbolic of Israel. But notice the two types of Olive trees which are mentioned here, a wild tree and a cultivated. These terms should be understandable as the wild tree is not under a human’s care and just grows and produces as nature would have it while a cultivated tree had been tended to, trimmed back, and taken from. Know what the interesting thing is about limbs being grafted in? Generally, a wild olive branch is not grafted into a cultivated olive tree UNLESS the tree becomes fruitless or barren. The very reason for this is for the wild olive branch to impact the rest of the tree into becoming fruitful and useful once again.

Let me be clear, from the Call of Abram, in Genesis 12, God always planned for His gospel to reach to both Jews and Gentiles. In the Covenant with Abraham God did not say, “only your descendants will be blessed”, but rather “all people” will be blessed. However, it was when the Jewish people rejected the gospel that ‘us’ gentiles were, through faith, grafted into God’s family. But let us never forget why the wild bunch (that would be us) was grafted into the cultivated bunch (that would be the Jews). God’s plan has always been for His gospel to be preached so that we can reach, teach, baptize, and make disciples. That is the responsibility of being grafted into God’s family.

II. Recognize the Power

When we think about the power it takes to fuse limbs together to complete the grafting process, our minds are boggled. I submit that there is a tendency to downplay the power God has and uses in this process. Somehow we have lost the awe of God’s power. I offer three classes of power.

A. To Inspect

God has the power to inspect your (my) life. Although He knows the beginning from the end and every issue in our hearts, I’ll submit that there are 2 things which He inspects very carefully. The first is our attitude. In verse 20 we find the warning “Do not be arrogant (I.E conceited, High-minded, etc) because God still resists the proud. He sees in the deep recesses of our hearts and knows our attitude.

Additionally, we are told not to ‘brag (boast)’ and if we do, we better keep things in perspective. God also inspects our fruitfulness. There is a false doctrine being taught today. It is, “You are only commanded to be faithful, not fruitful.” While this might sound appealing, it isn’t God’s word. In our text today, we discover that a wild olive branch was grafted in because the cultivated tree didn’t produce fruit. Jesus cursed the barren tree, & then gave us a sobering truth about fruit in John 15.

Please make no mistake about this; God inspects our hearts for sin. He inspects our hearts about our attitudes and He inspects our lives for fruit. He is the original IG (Inspector General)!

B. To Reject

Candidly, we don’t like to think that God will do this, EVER!!

Yet, the branches were broken off by unbelief. In the same way we must recognize the power of God we need to recognize the power of unbelief. It was unbelief that kept the Children of Israel from entering Canaan, it was unbelief that kept Jesus from doing miracles in Nazareth, it was unbelief that cause Jesus, in Mark 16 to rebuke his disciples in the aftermath of the resurrection, and it was unbelief that prompted God to ‘Break off the limb’ of Israel from the Cultivated Olive tree. This was a symbol of His rejection of them. It will be unbelief in you and me that will cause God to reject us. Unbelief is a powerful thing. Make no mistake God rejects based on unbelief, unfaithfulness, and unfruitfulness. But His power to reject is not His first choice, it is His last step.

C. To Connect

Picture the grafting of two plants. First, you must make a cut on the existing plant. This makes a direct path into the heart of its life. Next, take the branch which you want to graft, place its exposed heart directly onto the heart of the living tree, and then bind the two together tightly. The result is this; over time the two become one so that it is difficult to see the point of the grafting. The two become one.

Can you now see the parallel? Remember, the reason for grafting in a “Wild Olive Branch” is to return the tree to being “FRUITFUL.” So, let’s make the application; in our natural, fleshly, and normal conditions we, like Israel, have become fruitless. Left to our own we will remain spiritually fruitless and either dry up and die or be cursed and die (like the tree in Matthew 21). However upon hearing the gospel, the Sword of the Spirit (The Holy Spirit) will lance or prick the very core of our being (our hearts). Once our hearts are pricked, sensitive, and tender, God places His sensitive heart on ours, and tightly wraps them with His Holy Spirit and the grafting process begins. Oh it’s true, that we are in His family at the beginning of the process, but make no mistake, our Heavenly Father’s goal is to change us from what we have been (a non-producing, dried up vine) into a beautiful, fruit-bearing plant.

Do you have this kind of connection to the Lord? Do you remember what it was like to have your heart pricked by the Holy Spirit? If you cannot remember this point in your life, the scripture prompts us.

III. Recall the Past

There is nothing that will humble an individual like close scrutiny of his or her past. Every one of us has things in our past which we would like to erase, delete, or white out. There is not person alive who will be glad when God starts making your thoughts and deeds known. At the very least it will be embarrassing and more likely, will be humiliating. Let’s take an extremely personal look at this scripture and consider our own personal past. Let’s put this in first person as we see our need to be grafted in to God’s family.

A. I was Distant

Look at verse 20 with me, “True enough, they were (the branches) broken off by unbelief.” There has never been a person who was born a “believer”. Everyone of us was distant to God because of our unbelief and because our unbelief was in and of itself sin. What’s more our unbelief in Christ led us to sin against Almighty God. You want to put a name on sin? We can. It could be lust, gossip, adultery, anger, wrath, adultery or other immorality, or any other of a multitude of names we give sin. Sin is all about displeasing God. The Bible says, “To Him who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, they sin.” It is our sin which separates us from Holy God. It is sin which keeps us from God. When we follow our Lord at a distance, we will sin. It happened to Peter in the courtyard. It’ll happen to us in the churchyard. Consider this; are you still at a distance from God?

B. I was Distracted

Too many of us were & are distracted from the things of God, even today. Please think about this; exactly where do God and His work rank on your life of priorities. Truthfully, God has heard every excuse in the book (and probably a few that are not in the book). I wonder if we truly believe the God who gave His Son for our “souls’ salvation” will accept our excuses for putting Him 2nd, 3rd, or worse in our lives. Possibly, we have been duped into thinking that God would never do anything to me, I’m good – I stand by faith and all is well. Go back to verse 20 and follow. Those words jump off the page at me, “Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.” Here’s why: “If God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.” My fear is that we have become distracted by the things of this world and are allowing to things of God to go undone. Think about standing before God like this. It’ll sober you.

C. I was Disobedient

Verse 30-32 leave us little room to deny our stubborn and selfish way of living. The Jews? Disobedient. Gentiles? Disobedient. Me? Disobedient. You? Disobedient. All of us? Unfruitful and living under the curse of sin deserving eternal death and punishment.

It is in this condition that God finds us. We are distracted by the things of this world because we are distant from God and with God so far away we live like we want and disobedience is our middle name. But what He wants to do is not simply get your focus, your obedience, or your presence. He literally wants to graft you into His spiritual family.


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